“Who are the key stakeholders in your business?” my mentor queered at our initial meeting. “My staff, my customers and my bank” I answered. “You are forgetting one, Dave” Hugh responded, “your suppliers”.
Hugh went on to tell me the story of growing his resin company from a small two-man operation to one of the largest in Canada. It’s a great story, a roller coaster ride, and all the way through his suppliers stuck by and extended him credit when nobody else was willing.
Hugh’s story gave me pause. I have always valued my suppliers but until recently, I have never seen them as key stakeholders.
Wolfgang is growing fast and that means a cash burn. At certain times of the year, our cash flow is tight and I rely heavily on credit. When it’s tight, our main supplier, Dulux Paints, understands. My relationship with Dulux is years in the making, based on trust and a mutual belief in win/win. When I make a promise to Dulux, I deliver, every time, and in return I get some flexibility.
So, yes, my suppliers are stakeholders, moreover; they are partners. I always look to the big picture when we are negotiating, Are a few cents on a pail paint worth “punching holes” in a key relationship? Probably not! If my suppliers don’t feel bleed dry on pricing, they are more likely to be there when I really need them.
Thanks Hugh, great lesson.