I have had several posts about good vendor company relationships and how a good vendor is a partner instead just some company that provides a service. A vendor that reaches the point of being a valued partner is only one half of the relationship. As the customer, are you a good customer that deals with your partners in a fair way? I have seen companies and worked for people in the past who beat up their vendors and constantly challenge them on price (If they are a good partner you are already getting a fair price), always demand things for free and generally are high maintenance and abusive with their vendor companies. In every case where that existed those same people never seemed to satisfied with their vendors and regularly changed the companies they dealt with, only to find they had issues with the new company.
In my experience dealing with a vendor in a fair and reasonable manner builds goodwill on both sides of the equation and on the occasion when you may need someone to go the extra mile or throw in a little extra effort they are more than willing to go that extra mile for you.
Part of this relationship is being generous with the referrals. If you have a great car washing guy and you see someone with a dirty car, send them his way. It helps them out and it builds goodwill in your relationship with him. Especially these days with social media bad experiences can travel very fast, but if you make an effort to call out the good efforts once in a while also you can help the companies that provide great service or products to grow and prosper. Over a period of time if you do things right you will build a stable of great partners that you can count on delivering when you need them and hopefully they are looking out for you as well in the referral dept. As with any good working relationship it is a two way street. One thing to keep in mind also, just because you are the customer, don't think you are not being evaluated as well. One of my friends who is in sales, Bil Moore, just posted a blog about when to fire your customers http://bilmoore.com/2012/03/22/fire-your-customer/ so trust me, you are not the only one in a position to make a change if a vendor/customer relationship is not working out for both sides. I think these are important things to think about when running a business for the long haul.
Justin Himebaugh leads the accounting department at HRU, (or The Necessary Evil Group as he calls it). A Graduate of the Haworth school of business at Western Michigan University, Justin has specialized in systems implementations and streamlining the accounting function for the companies he has worked with. Besides having a well rounded skill set when it comes to accounting he can still hold his own in the pool if a game of water polo breaks out. You can follow him on Twitter, @necssryevil