How to Effectively Communicate with your Contractors & Suppliers

Author: Nick Moyes

Supplier Communication

Contractors and suppliers: you love them, you rely on them, and the better your relationship is with them, the smoother your business continues to run. So when it comes to conveying your safety and sustainability standards, communicating expectations effectively is a critical aspect of ensuring that business continuity. 
When communicating expectations with your contractors and suppliers, they may feel as though you’re attempting to micromanage their safety and quality. However, if you can effectively communicate your sustainability motives, you will be seen in a much better light. These motives may include:

  • Safer execution of work orders
  • Quality of deliverables and timely arrival
  • Expectations for maintaining your business relationship

You will no longer be seen as a stand-in-OSHA/MSHA enforcer or quality control taskmaster, but rather as an ally who genuinely cares about their safety and maximizing everyone's sustainability. So how do you effectively communicate that?

Establish who your contractors and suppliers are.  
Seems simple enough, but all too often when new customers join Avetta they come to us with an incomplete contractor and supplier list that lacks accurate contact info and typically needs to be combined with other lists from multiple departments (and geographies) scattered across their organization.

Try creating a centralized database of your contractors and suppliers with complete contact info and monitor it. Give the appropriate people within your organization access to it including editing rights to ensure contractor and supplier contact information stays current, no matter who in your organization comes and goes. For these same reasons you should strive to have more than one point of contact for each contractor and supplier you hire.  
Now you know who they are, do they know who you are?  
From the moment your contractors and suppliers are hired, communicate via a phone call, an email, or even a shared doc, who their appropriate contacts are within your organization. Someday you will go on vacation and your contractor or supplier may need more than just an out-of-office autoreply; so be sure to share more contacts’ info than just your own! Then make sure the chain-of-command is clear for when you are in the office, so that your manager isn’t receiving phone calls when they should have been directed to you first.  
Now that communication lines are open, how to effectively use them?  
When sharing your safety updates and sustainability motives via email, track them with “delivered/read receipts” so there is a paper trail for when they are received and read. Then, schedule regular update calls so that if all other efforts to reach each other fail, communication will still succeed on those recurring dates. It’s a safety net for both you and the contractor – the key being to consistently attend scheduled calls. Be sure to emphasize that they should reach out to you at any time regarding urgent matters, but to use the regular update calls for general process improvements.

Finally, don’t forget to listen. You created these open communication channels, now utilize them in both directions. Reassure contractors and suppliers that their concerns are your concerns, especially when it comes to safety improvement and quality control. By effectively communicating your safety and quality expectations with the contractors and suppliers you hire, you will increase supply chain sustainability and help ensure everyone’s business continuity.

How is your organization handling it?

We're taking steps internally to ensure we can support you during this crisis by:

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Maintain a current Business Continuity Plan

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Promote a safe, clean and sanitized work environment

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Enable employees to work remotely

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Institute Office Distancing policies

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No visitors to the office

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Encourage employees to self-educate using online resources (WHO)

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Restrict travel—all non-essential travel is forbidden

To learn more, we encourage you to visit our COVID-19 Resource Library.

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