vendor or partner

Vendor or Partner

When your customers think about your textile rental service company, do they see you as just another vendor rather than as a valued partner who brings solutions to their challenges? Do they see your route service reps as delivery boys or true service providers? Analyzing your relationships with your customers is a key step in improving your business.

When your customers see you strictly as a vendor, they become focused on a checklist of what you do rather than truly understanding the value that you bring. When it comes to achieving a renewal, a vendor-based relationship means customers see your services as a commodity and base their decision strictly on price without considering the true value. Our business is not about the transactions – it’s about relationships. To foster those relationships, we must start presenting ourselves as partners, rather than just vendors.

1. Clearly Share the Value You Bring

To be seen as a true partner, rather than a vendor, we must help our customers understand the value that we bring. One way to do this is to make sure that your route reps are conveying your company’s value with every customer interaction. Route reps should focus on building loyalty and confidence with every interaction. This can be done through simply articulating the value already given to customers that they may not be aware of and also by increasing the value opportunities. The goal is to always go above and beyond and be sure to acknowledge the successes already brought to the customer.

2. Take a Genuine Interest in Helping the Customer Meet Their Goals

It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes helping a customer more effectively manage their budget can have a positive impact on your business. If you have a strong partnership with a customer and are engaging them in ongoing conversations, you can discover ways to benefit both of you.

For example, if a RSR sees that a customer is paying for a product that is of little value to the customer, they should recommend removing that item and replacing it with something that brings more value. There is always the risk of the customer saying “no” and just removing an item, but the customer loyalty you receive is more than worth the risk.

Plus, this approach shows your integrity as a company and will make further recommendations easier. Once a customer trusts you, it becomes increasingly comfortable to suggest additional services. For example, explaining to a customer how you can provide soap for their dispenser at the same value as a mass retailer with added convenience.

Your objective as a true partner should be to help customers meet their goals. Another way of doing this is to think of other customers that you have that you could refer as new business. Imagine the value a customer would see in your company knowing you are helping them grow, practically in today’s economy.

3. Institute Changes with Clarity

Honest and open communications go a long way in building strong relationships. Sadly, in our industry it is a common practice to make significant changes to invoices or begin a new program during a holiday week. This is often done with the hope that customers won’t notice in the midst of the holiday rush. By teaching our route reps to clearly communicate the upcoming changes and why they are happening, customers are more willing to accept the changes while strengthening their trust. It’s the personal introduction of that change that makes a difference and drives higher participation rates.

Clearly communicating your company’s value, taking a genuine interest in helping your customers meet their goals and instituting changes with clarity are just three ways to shift your relationship from being a vendor to being a true partner. These changes take little effort but result in customer loyalty, increased renewals and stronger relationships.


Troy Lovins, Performance Matters Troy Lovins, CEO, Performance Matters. Performance Matters is a Universal Unilink Preferred Supplier. Call (803) 897-0044 for special discounts on training and consulting services.