CWS 3.0: May 31, 2011 - Vol.3.13

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Because You Asked: Client-Supplier Relationship

I have a great relationship with my primary staffing supplier. But we just implemented a VMS. Will that affect my relationship with my vendor?

-- Apprehensive in Austin, Texas

Dear Apprehensive,

We understand you don’t want to upset the applecart. After all, it’s not every day a customer can say they have a great relationship with their supplier. But you are not alone. The recent Staffing Industry Analysts 2010 Contingent Buyer Survey revealed that that there are two groups of happy clients. But they differ in they way they maintain the relationship with their supplier.

One group communicates exclusively through their managed service provider (MSP) and their VMS tool. This group does not talk directly to its suppliers but is content to let the MSP handle communications. The MSP is doing its job right; the suppliers are getting what they need and are providing quality talent at competitive prices. Staffing suppliers aren’t moaning about the fact they don’t have a direct link to the customer.

The other client group polled is quite different but just as happy — if not happier. Regardless of the VMS, they communicate frequently with their suppliers. This group had great personal ties with their suppliers, enjoyed the camaraderie, communicated frequently and not on an as-needed basis. They enjoyed working together: in short they had a good relationship.

But what is interesting is the least happy ones are those who didn’t use VMS/MSP and also didn’t directly communicate with their suppliers. If you just put out a job order and expect it to be filled, you are not going to get either a high quality worker or a gratified supplier. A job description may not cover all the nuances. What’s worse is that you as the end user of contingent labor are not going to be pleased either. So, open your mouth and let the supplier know your expectations.

As one writer said, “Talking is easy; communication, which means an exchange or communion with another, requires greater skill. 

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