In the final article of our series on scaling up your business, Anne Timpany, Director at On Tap Plumbers, explains how important it is to develop strong relationships with your supply chain to help build your business.

If you want to scale up your business successfully, you must never underestimate the value of your supply chain. You need suppliers who provide prompt deliveries, have the stock that you need, are reliable, and able to respond in an emergency. It’s essential to develop good relationships with your suppliers as they can offer you so much more.

Credit is important. Set up an account with a nationwide distributor – at On Tap Plumbers we are still working with a supplier who has been with us from the very beginning. With a regular supplier, you can negotiate good discounts and payment terms which can really help your cash flow.

It’s also obviously important that you pay on time – merchants can have cash flow problems too. As a valued customer, you can get rebates, which some suppliers offer when you spend a substantial amount with them, and they give you a financial payback at the end of the year.

Get to know the salespeople in your supply chain too, as they can recommend you to their customers. Our suppliers have helped us this way by introducing us to new clients.

There are also some companies which offer you rewards. Suppliers are working in a very competitive marketplace and will be willing to negotiate with you, but don’t take the first offer. Some have reward and membership schemes, and one company we work with has given us a free vacuum cleaner among other items.

Social media platforms can also help you to scale up, especially LinkedIn. Over 90% of UK business people are on LinkedIn, and it’s a great way to find suppliers. A water softener company recently contacted me on LinkedIn and we are now working together.

It’s also so important to get out to meet providers at exhibitions like PHEX, and see what’s new on the market. We’ve met a number of new suppliers in this way and developed mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Loyalty is of great value to plumbing merchants and it’s likely that you will recommend them to other people if you are happy with their service.

Make them part of your network and they can really help you to grow your business.