Tuesday 19 October 2010

Name and no shame - in praise of great suppliers

Yesterday I met up with Craig Dearden-Phillips for the first time.  Craig is embarking on a new venture - Stepping Out - and you can follow his entrepreneurial journey on his blog here.

We discussed the pros and cons of working with other people - the pleasure of finding those with real talent and commitment, and the challenges of creating incentive structures that align the interests of all the people involved in a project.

This set me thinking about some of the most rewarding relationships I have experienced with suppliers (in the broad sense - people or organisations that supply resources, labour or capital).  Over the years I've been lucky enough to deal with some very impressive people, and I set myself the test to work out what shared characteristics they have.  Here's my list so far:
  1. Great passion for what they do
  2. Curiosity about how they can help
  3. Willingness to share risk
  4. Sense of humour
This list may not be complete, so please suggest any additions or amendments, but for me it is a pretty good guide.

Here are some examples that stand out for me - people who've really gone above and beyond the call of duty:

Bellamy Studio

Paul Bellamy designed the branding and layouts of Bmycharity and Giftshare, and as we developed our services we came to look on him as the third member of our team.  He is a creative designer who coordinates seamlessly both with technologists and marketeers, and sets himself and his team exacting standards.  Although I've worked with Paul for several years I've never met him in person - but I have no hesitation in recommending him.  He is a pleasure to work with, and he really delivers.

Richardsons Chartered Accountants

Simon Husband and his team are the most entertaining accountants I know.  After discovering that our original accountants were overcharging, I approached Richardsons and they demonstrated that they could deliver more for less.  Simon's jokes about VAT on carrots are funny, but they also belie a deep knowledge of his subject and an imaginative streak that promises to find the best way to achieve bottom line results.

Capital SCF

James Clark and his team at Capital SCF advised us on our corporate strategy as we prepared to sell Bmycharity.  James introduced me to the expression "skin in the game" - and he joined us in the risks as well as the rewards of what we were doing.  James's knowledge of technology and business strategy is exceptional and I'll want him on my side of the table next time around!

Do you have any suppliers you think merit a mention?  Or can you think of other characteristics of great suppliers?  Please share your ideas here!

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