Suppliers and Demands

Complaints are not a common occurrence here at Venture. Though mistakes occasionally happen, I am of the opinion that it’s the measure of a company as to how the mistake is rectified, and so we bend over backwards to resolve any issue that arises.

Last week, one of our customers complained of poor customer service, which immediately triggered me as a Director getting involved. The complaint was centred around the fact that we had rescinded his credit account. After some initial investigation, it turns out that this particular customer had a very poor payment history with us, which at one point, after months of us being actively ignored by this customer, resulted in us (as a complete last resort) threatening court proceedings to recover an outstanding debt.

None of our numerous and varied attempts at contact looked unreasonable to me, and yet here was someone screaming ‘poor customer service’ because we had rescinded his credit account and ultimately his trade access, which is a matter of company policy following the threat of court action.

His argument was that his customer hadn’t paid him. My response was that you can’t make YOUR cash flow issues MY cash flow issues. He then said he couldn’t badger the customer for the money, as they were a really good customer of his. To which I had to disagree again. Customers who don’t pay their bills, you can get anywhere.

The whole sorry scenario caused me to think back to when I first started in large-format print, working from my spare room outsourcing banners and roller banners to a multi-million pound company in Leeds. I was putting through a reasonable volume of work to them, but I was always acutely aware that without them, I had no business whatsoever.

Understanding this, I always paid my account on the day it was due, even if I hadn’t been paid, and that meant using my own personal credit card. In fact, I distinctly remember in the early days a time when I duly cleared my supplier account and a couple of hours later my wife phoned from Asda saying our card had been declined at the checkout. Supplier: happy. Wife: not so much.

Eight years on, and my opinion hasn’t changed one iota. As a company we have evolved with several million pounds worth of kit ourselves and of course our suppliers have changed with that evolution but they are as much the lifeblood of the company as the customers, and are treated as such.

A good supplier should be treated like a good customer, because when you find someone who does exactly what they say they will do and provides a good service and a good product, they are worth their weight in gold.