Ask the expert: How can I get the most from my meetings with my suppliers?
The regular "Ask the experts" feature in Professional Beauty magazine talks to Charlie Thompson, Chairman of the UK Spa Association, on how get the most from a meeting with your suppliers.
Always consider your suppliers as if they were partners in your business because they should want you to expand and not simply hold more stock. By thinking like this, you will be able to gain their support far more effectively and identify whether they are the right partner for you.
Meetings are the most important part in this relationship and I strongly recommend setting yearly measureable treatment and retail targets for each supplier’s product group, with a short review every six months to see how well you are doing. You need to be asking your supplier partners for help with this if you are not familiar with marketing. Plan ahead as no one can support you at short notice.
I always hear from suppliers how they love to have a plan for their meetings sent to them beforehand. Usually this can be a short list of topics on an email so they can plan product or event support before they arrive. You could be discussing the sales plans in your meetings, not trying to do this in follow up emails and phone calls, which will never be as productive and wastes your valuable time.
I recommend sending meeting topics three or four days in advance to get things started, and then be absolutely certain to follow up afterwards with accurate numbers on how the support worked.
Finally, share your sales numbers if you can – when suppliers know the benefits of their work they will continue to support you. Never start a meeting with the words “I think”, and always remember your business will be stronger working together.
Charlie Thompson is chairman of the newly formed UK Spa Association, combining BISA and Spa Business Association, which is focused on providing education, accreditation, and market intelligence for its members. He is also head of health and beauty for Virgin Active’s 81 UK Spas.
The Ask the Expert features can be found in Professional Beauty Magazine, the monthly magazine for beauty and spa professionals. The June issue is out now. Subscribe for just €44 a year here or download the digital app on itunes for just €11.66.