Implement Intentional Vendor Relationship Building
Understand the purchasing and procurement department’s capacity for vendor support and relationships
How long does it take for the purchasing department to respond to new vendor inquiries? How long does it take for a small business to get paid? Both the process and the published information around vendor on-boarding should be transparent, with reasonable expectations that a small business can meet and live with.
Generate successes one vendor at a time.
When there is a match between a purchasing need and a local or diversity vendor, take the time to introduce that vendor to all relevant staff and departments to encourage them to work with that vendor for their purchasing.
Explore limited contracting with local vendors to support their volume.
Smaller businesses are sometimes caught between needing capital to do the expansion they need to serve a large institution, and not having a guaranteed volume that would be required to secure the necessary loans. Try a limited-contract option with a new vendor – without making promises – as an introductory period. If the vendor performs well, consider broader institution-wide contracting. Progressively stepping up levels of contracting can allow a vendor to build their internal capacity such that they can adequately meet the institution’s needs as well as integrate into electronic purchasing systems. Vendor contracting has the added advantage of competitive volume pricing and substantial savings to the institution.
Be aware of how contract terms work in your institution and be sure to have a contract management system in place.
Such a system can alert you to expiring contracts that represent opportunities for local vendors. Avoid bringing new vendors on board for a particular type of goods or services well ahead of when existing purchase contracts have expired; this prevents a new vendor from gaining a foothold. Use the timing of expiring contracts to build new vendor relationships.