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How to get the least from a client-supplier relationship

Jane Priest, Teaching Fellow

Faculty Blog

Meeting room

Meeting room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Flexible’, ‘reliable’, ‘attentive’, ‘trustworthy’. Those are some of the words that spring to mind when asked to describe an exceptional supplier. Good client-supplier relationships hinge on mutual cooperation and trust, which develops, of course, between individuals. Anyone who has had the satisfaction of working in such a relationship will understand its importance to organisational efficiency and effectiveness. Anyone who has had the unpleasant experience of such a relationship ‘breaking down’ will know it is not something to be taken for granted.

I read an amusing, thought provoking article by Jeremy Bullmore, an MRS Patron and former ad agency chairman who couldn’t have made this clearer when he flipped convention on its head with his “Ten Tried-and Trusted Ways to Get the Least from your Advertising Agency”.

Here are some of them:

-        Keep them feeling insecure

-        Employ at least one incompetent, underworked junior

-        Never admit to a mistake

-        Change your main contact with the agency at least once a year

-        Install a highly complex, hierarchical approval system.

Clients’ responses were equally insightful (you can see them here). How to infuriate your client… My favourite?

-        Explain the absence of the expected group of directors by saying: “Yes, I know they were on the pitch team but they’ve got another one this afternoon”.

Supplier-side or client side, what would you add?