In August, Vendors – Hidden Risks discussed how carefully crafting business relationships can avoid misunderstandings and nasty surprises.
Once the basic vendor agreements are in place, there’s lots of opportunity to explore valuable business input with your trusted service providers.  Learning from others is easy if we listen.

Vendors are valuable resources

Yes, your consultants and vendors can give you unique insight in many areas. But do you know how you to ask them?  Here are some risks and possible questions.


– What risks can you see that I should be paying attention to and trying to prevent? What surprises or traps could we be falling into?


– What safety areas might we be neglecting? How can we better protect employees – yours and ours – while on our site?


– Do you see any ways we could be more productive or get things done more efficiently? Where might we be wasting time or money?


– We want to provide high quality products and services – can you see areas where we can improve?


– (Adapt to your concern.) How can we improve our packaging for shipments? What’s lighter, stronger, faster to work with?

New risks

– What new hazards or risks do you see out there that we can plan, or get ready for, so we’re prepared?

Legal trends

– Regulations seem to be changing all the time – what new ones have you seen that could cause us a problem?

Keep it simple

Be respectful of their time – ask one or two simple, open-ended questions. Focus on just one area per conversation. Be sure to write notes to show you are truly interested!
You might also want to ask, “How else should you be helping me and my business?” You don’t have to agree to anything they offer, this is simply a way to open the door for possible suggestions you may not know about.
Thank them sincerely, and ask if it’s okay to ask other questions at another time. They’ll be pleased to welcome your inquiries.

Get a new perspective 

A second set of eyes can give you a perspective you hadn’t noticed. Most people will be delighted to offer ideas from their experience if you show genuine appreciation. And you might have an enlightenment that can be very valuable.

What techniques have you used to get valuable input? Add your thoughts