Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Saying goodbye--leaving a vendor relationship

It happens. The trade show supplier you worked with for so long has changed--maybe they have new owners or a new account executive. Perhaps their pricing policies have changed or they don't understand your new business strategy. Whatever the reason, you've chosen to move on.

As with any relationship, a business divorce doesn't have to be ugly or bitter. Actually, it can work out quite nicely, if done professionally and clearly. Consider these items when you've finally decided to move on:

  1. Move quickly.
  2. Make your intentions known in writing.
  3. Depart with dignity.

By moving quickly, you save both you and the exhibit company you are leaving time and money. Don't waste their time and be fair in how you tell them. Moving your goods when most of them are at a show seems to be the most efficient--the goods don't have to go back into their warehouse just to turn around and go back out. This reduces handling and shipping costs.

Write a clear communication--preferably a letter sent registered or via e-mail and fax (or all three). Describe in detail what you are going to do, when and what you expect in return. Be prepared not to receive any of your properties without having paid your final bill. Be sure and ask for not just your trade show booth and crates, but all that is yours--product, computer, graphics, set-up drawings, electronic files. Don't leave empty handed (I have an example letter should anyone want or need one). Anything you bought and paid for belongs to your company.

Depart with dignity. Be classy--in the trade show business as in most other close-knit communities--you never know who you will work with or for in the future. Remember the old saw--be careful to look because you may be standing on the bridge you are burning.

Lesson learned: be classy, clear but covet what belongs to your company.


No comments: