Why You Should Visit Your Provider
If you’re thinking about hiring a vendor, or any other type of service provider for your company, you should meet them first.
Jul 2019 - 4 minutes read
In 2019, this may not seem like a revolutionary idea, but for many companies it is. There are lots of companies that are satisfied with a few emails and the occasional video conference making up the bulk of their relationship with important partners and vendors.
Instead of relying on impersonal email and chat programs like Slack, we believe that cultivating relationships with providers and partners is worth a bit of effort. Depending on where they’re situated, this might mean devoting an afternoon to touring their office, or flying halfway around the globe to spend a few days on-site. Regardless of where they’re located, the results you’ll get from even one brief meeting makes the effort worthwhile.
The Benefits of Visiting Your Provider
This approach to creating personal relationships can seem counter-intuitive if your company is focused entirely on the bottom line. Without looking at the big picture, spending time and money cultivating relationships with providers doesn’t always feel worth the effort.
However, when you look at the larger picture, you’ll see that the benefits of visiting your provider definitely outweigh the cost. Here are some reasons why it’s a great practice to visit your provider on a regular basis.
It Creates a Rapport
The ultimate reason to visit your provider is to create a rapport. Sure, you can make a connection sending quick messages back and forth on email, or hopping on the occasional phone call, but these methods lack real human connection. Video conferencing technology has come a long way, but even that is often robotic when you’re sitting at conference tables and following a pre-written meeting agenda.
If you’re able to go and visit your provider in person, it gives you a chance to make a personal connection with the team that will be working with you. When you meet with staff, they’ll be able to get a sense of your personality, and how you work. Being more familiar with your approach and style will allow them to create a better product and offer better service.
Meeting your provider in person creates a better working relationship, but it can also lead to positive personal relationships as well. When you’re visiting, ask questions about their work history, hobbies, and interests. You don’t need to pry into their personal life too deeply, but having a personal connection will only help you become better colleagues, even from afar.
It Encourages Staff to Form Personal Connections
If you’re in charge of managing your remote provider, one of the best ways to make your job easier is to introduce your staff to the vendor or provider. Not only does it give them a chance to make their own relationships with the outside company, it also gives them a better sense of how the provider works.
The next time you visit your provider, extend an offer for any relevant staff members to tag along with you. The more your marketing department, creatives, and leadership are able to connect with the outside company, the better the relationship between the two companies will be overall.
It Gives You A Chance to Meet Their Team
In addition to motivating your own staff, meeting the provider, especially on their home turf, is a great chance to get to know their team. Stepping into their office gives you a better understanding of what the company is like, and how they run their business. You’ll immediately get a sense of whether it’s a good place to work, and how the executives and managers treat junior employees.
Another great reason to visit the provider at their office is so you can meet a wider variety of staff. Your first few meetings will likely be with client-facing departments like marketing and sales. Their focused experience doesn’t necessarily give them a complete understanding of the complexities of your project.
Meeting with on-the-ground staff and cultivating a rapport with them is a great way to ensure the success of your project. The more your vendor’s staff know about your company, the better they’ll be able to tailor their work to suit your needs. Plus, if they have a personal connection with you, communication will be easier.
When Should You Go?
If you’ve decided to make visiting your provider a priority, you’ll need to work around their schedule, and find a time that’s mutually agreeable. Ideally, you’d be able to make your first visit before the contracts are signed. This gives you the chance to scope out the company for yourself, and start your working relationship off on the right foot.
If your project lasts more than a few months, or if it’s an ongoing partnership, get in the habit of making visits a few times a year. It gives you the chance to meet new members of the team if there’s been turnover, and get an update on the project in person.
If you’re working with a company that’s too far away to visit, or if you’re met with resistance when you suggest a visit, you may want to rethink your partnership. Any vendor or service provider who won’t welcome you into their offices may have something to hide. If they take your partnership seriously, they should want to encourage a personal connection as well.
Think About Making a Visit to Your Provider
Even if you’ve been working with a remote provider for years, it’s never too late to organize a first visit. Meeting in person is critical to your rapport, and it helps both companies learn how to work with each other more effectively.
Do you have a great relationship with your provider? If not, spend some time today thinking about whether visiting them more often can help.