Dealing with Trouble Vendors

As I mentioned in a recent post on preparing for opening day, I started a business this year promoting and planning fun parties in Denver.  Now that the fun is over, the accounting and money management are in full gear. Right now, I am dealing with a difficult vendor and have to work hard to ensure an equitable result.

 

What Went Wrong?

To make a long story short, almost everything. The vendor in question did not perform to our standards, invoiced us for more than the agreed on amount, demanded immediate payment in cash, and resisted our attempts to get a W9 for payment verification.

Despite his attitude and performance, we are still working to pay him for our original agreement and to come to an equitable solution. We made a big mistake by not getting a signed contract, so we have to deal with him and the fallout now.

Obviously, we will get written contracts in the future and not work with this specific vendor again, but we have to take this specific issue to conclusion.

 

Get a Contract

To stop problems before they start, get a contract. We learned this the hard way. A signed contract ensures both parties know what is expected of them and that everything runs smoothly without any room for argument or conflict.

Even a very basic contract is fine in most circumstances. Just outline what each party is responsible for, payment method and timing, and any needed terms for your specific situation.

 

Try to Work Together

Even if the vendor becomes argumentative or difficult, maintain your composure and negotiate in good faith. Try to find a mutually agreeable solution to any argument. Be professional and get everything in writing.  In the bigger picture, a legal dispute will probably cost both parties more time and money than just working together.

However, in the event of a legal dispute, having written records will help your case. Even copies of emails may support you in court or a settlement.

 

Be Consistent

Another mistake we made was having multiple points of contact for this vendor. My partners handled all negotiations with the vendor prior to the event and I have been dealing with him since. As I don’t have a contract, I am working off of old emails and word of mouth for the follow-up.

Be consistent and maintain one point of contact from start to finish for each relationship.

 

Stick to Your Guns

When working together, don’t be a pushover. Hold to your original terms and don’t let the vendor bully you. In this case, the vendor is being very unpleasant, but we are not giving in to his ridiculous demands.

Hold firm and remember that you are the customer. While the customer is not always right (we are in this case), the customer does hold the check book.

 

Be Reflective and Hold to Your End of the Deal

Look back and try to find any areas where a miscommunication was possible. Try to understand the situation from the vendor’s point of view. If you can come to an equitable solution that both parties agree to, that is the best outcome.

Even if the vendor offends you or bothers you, as long as they do not break the law, hold to your end of the deal. Pay them what you agreed and try to move forward.

About Eric Rosenberg

Eric is a finance blogger at Narrow Bridge Finance and a serial entrepreneur. He runs a media company, flash mob company, and DJ business from his hometown in Denver, Colorado. You can read more about his finance background and connect with him around the web.

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