Here’s a piece of advice that, if followed, will make you a better purchasing professional: adopt the philosophy “If it’s the vendor’s fault, it’s really my fault.”

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You pick your vendors. You manage your vendors. So you need to be responsible for your vendors.

It is a pet peeve of mine when companies blame their vendors when they fail to fulfill their obligations to their customers. As if they totally absolve themselves of responsibility.

In the last 10 days, I’ve had two experiences like this that I thought were interesting and/or funny enough to share.

First, I decided to take my kids to a Pittsburgh Pirates’ baseball game. One of the factors in choosing the day that they went was their promotion for that day: a slick looking Freddy Sanchez jersey for kids 12 and under.

When we got to the game, a Pirates representative handed my kids a cheap looking Freddy Sanchez t-shirt along with this card:

An image of a card that says a vendor issue means no promotional items for this baseball game

Note the first line: “Due to a delay on the part of our vendor…” Finger-pointing at its finest. Or worst.

Then, today…I was planning on working through lunch. Walking distance from our office is a Unimart that serves surprisingly good pizza. So I decided to go there.

I walk up to the counter where their pizza display is and…no pizza. I ask if they have pizza and they tell me there will be no pizza today.

OK, I’ll get one of their cheeseburgers instead. There are mustard packets but no ketchup. I’ll ask about that later.

Then I go to their beverage coolers. Not a single bottle of water.

OK, Sprite will work.

So I go to check out. I ask about the ketchup. The cashier says that they have ketchup packets and excuses herself to go find them. She returns and says they have no ketchup.

I start a joking rant about them having nothing. The cashier interrupts me to say “We don’t have any bags, is that OK?”

At this point, I am laughing quite hysterically. The manager comes out and says “We don’t have anything, but it’s not our fault.” I ask what he means and he says “Such-and-Such Company (I don’t recall the name) hasn’t delivered in four weeks. I have their customer service number, do you want to call them?”

I said that that’s his problem, not mine, but he may want to talk to the people across the street (Next Level Purchasing) about getting some training about how to manage their vendors…

Again, if it’s the vendor’s fault, it’s really your fault.

Treat your work like this and your vendors will perform better. You will be inspired to defend your pride to yourself.

Don’t take the “Unimart Manager” approach to vendor management.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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