Partnerships, Consultants and Vendors: Helping Others Help You

Best Practices in Dealing with Partners, Vendors and Consultants

Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration,

wonderful things can be achieved.

—Mattie Stepanek

Success never happens in a vacuum. If your law firm is going to succeed, you must have help from other people. I’m not just talking about your employees and/or your clients, although both are critical to your success in their own right. I’m also talking about external partnerships and alliances you’ll create along the way, including:

  • Vendors who supply goods and services for your firm;
  • Consultants who help refine processes and increase profits;
  • Joint-venture partners—other firms and related businesses that refer you clients, and vice-versa; and
  • Anyone else who does something that you can’t do yourself.

If you don’t nurture these partnerships properly, you’re wasting valuable growth opportunities at best, and generating bad blood at worst. Let’s explore some best practices in working with these allies—ways to help them help you, so you can both make the most of the collaboration.

Always Aim for a Win-Win Arrangement

Happy partners are the best partners, so negotiate your agreements in a way that meets the needs of both sides. This article in The Balance puts it best: “Vendor management is not negotiating the lowest price possible but constantly working with your vendors to come to agreements that will mutually benefit both companies.”

Sometimes it’s better to pay a little more, especially if you’re working with someone who is good at what they do—and your ROI will almost always exceed what you’d get with the lowest-priced vendor, anyway.

Resolve Potential Conflicts Proactively

Different companies function differently, which means every alliance has the potential for disagreement, as companies bump against each other. When you identify potential friction points with a vendor or business collaborator, don’t make the mistake of avoidance: “We’ll figure out later.” Figure it out now. Decide up front how each side will accommodate the other, and save yourselves the headaches later. Harvard Business Review notes that with joint venture partnerships, especially, there’s no such thing as “too much detail” during the deal making phase.

Treat All Partnerships as Long-Term

Some business relationships last only a short time, while others may be symbiotic for decades. However, the short-term partnerships will end naturally without your help. If you start with the assumption that every business partnership is a long-term relationship, you’ll make smarter choices with your dealings with that partner and breed goodwill for the future—no matter how long you work together.

The relationships you develop with collaborators and vendors can help you grow your company exponentially. Treat these partnerships like the assets they are and watch your law firm flourish as a result.

Richard James

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