Why amazing suppliers make creative agencies tick. Suppliers: a lifeline for creative start-ups.
One of the key things I’ve learnt in my time running SandisonPay is the importance of having amazing suppliers. Since the company’s inception way back when, they have been as important to me as my clients — I can’t pay them a greater tribute. And my advice to anybody breaking into this industry? Treat them as an integral part of your own team.
In the early days my whole business was me. I sat at the centre of a high-energy whirlwind. Circling around me were suppliers, freelancers, developers, SEO experts, printers, photographers, illustrators, video experts — anybody who allowed me to offer full agency services. It enabled me to arrange the shoots, deliver on the larger projects and still supply a decent service to my new clients. A special mention here for the freelancers; they too are a big part of any agency development and until today we are very fortunate to be able to tap into a talented pool of creatives who are willing to work in this way. It supports us no end.
Back to the growth. It wouldn’t be uncommon to find myself managing projects with up to a dozen individual suppliers. In many respects, they were the project. It pays to remember this. When professional people demonstrate a willingness to play their part in your vision, the old religious ethic of reciprocity comes to mind: one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. While respect and appreciation go a long way, paying them – and on time – will help them help you, and keep that support lifeline flowing.
In short, suppliers fix things (and yes, we all make mistakes). Great suppliers fix things quickly. There’s every chance you’ve had instances where clients have made an inordinate amount of changes and amendments that can complicate projects and compromise deadlines, or where jobs haven’t been printed 100% correctly, or even where jobs have gone missing. Resolving these challenges in a satisfactory manner can often be a life saver.
That said, some suppliers have less interest than others buying into the idea of a long-term relationship. So should you be interested, I’m going to link you here to suppliers with whom we’ve enjoyed healthy, durable relationships. Each comes highly recommended by the team at SandisonPay, and by me personally.
One final point worth remembering. If you are using 3rd party suppliers, exercise complete transparency with your clients. Let them know how your business is structured and give them the option of making contact with people in your network themselves, should they wish to. Long gone are the days when clients would pay you a visit and you felt obligated to ask freelancers to sit at desks to burgeon your numbers. Working models are flexible now, and honesty has always been an endearing policy. Once the trust has gone, the client will follow suit.
I hope there’s some ethical food for thought there. But the bottom line is this: when you find someone great, treasure them.
Derek White – Print – a3designandprint.co.uk
Ben Read – SEO – needtoknow-digital.co.uk
Bob Wheeler – Photographer – bobwheeler.co.uk
Neil Waddington – Video Production – 44-16.com
Gary Cottington – Web Development – garycottington.co.uk
Rachel Hartwell – Design – rachelhartwelldesign.com