Suppliers should be partners. Historically, suppliers were looked at in one of two ways. On the one hand, suppliers were looked at with skepticism and distrust, almost as the enemy, because they were always trying to sell something. Veterinarians or their purchasing agents didn't trust suppliers and often avoided contact with them until they needed something. They wouldn't share information that might have helped to improve the effectiveness of the relationship.
On the other extreme, some veterinarians (or their agents) became friends with a sales rep based upon mutual interests or even based upon gifts that the representative brought for the veterinarian or purchasing agent. In these circumstances, the personal gain of the veterinarian or agent outweighed any evaluation of the actual 'deal' that may or may not have been provided by the sales rep. To be clear, one person often made purchasing decisions based upon personal gain rather than upon the value delivered to the practice by the relationship.
Today, it is more common and necessary for veterinary practices to develop supplier relationships that are optimized for the practice. Our suppliers can and will provide access to the right products for your practice. They can also provide access to professional resources to which many veterinarians may not have access. For example, your distributor is in the business of managing and moving inventory. They will have resources that can help you improve your inventory management as well. Many suppliers have access to professional trainers who work with personnel development in the areas of leadership and communications. These resources can be very helpful to veterinary practices in helping to build their teams. Other resources that might be helpful are customer service training and education, human resource managment education, finanical education, sales training, and many others.
Develop your relationships with your suppliers and optimize them to provide you the best products at predictable prices. And be loyal. When you demonstrate loyalty and are willing to move market share to a supplier, they will be more willing to help you in other ways. Along the way, track the outcome of the relationship using tools such as the IMPH Financial Dashboard to monitor inventory costs. In this manner, you will become more effective at managing high cost areas of your practice in a manner that improves and optimizes profitability. That should be the result of making suppliers your 'partners'.