From suppliers to partners

Over 30 years in business, Sewell Facilities Management has worked with many suppliers, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. In our experience, we’ve found that building a long-term relationship with suppliers is beneficial to everyone – and with some of our suppliers having worked with us for almost twenty years, we’ve got plenty of knowledge in the subject! Taking the time and effort to build enduring partnerships with suppliers is well worth it, bringing benefits for everyone in the supply chain.

Here are some of the advantages of taking the time to build a partnership:

• Quality
If you’ve been working with a supplier for years, the chances are it’s because they do good work. You’ll become accustomed to the standards of their work over the long term, and you’ll be able to quickly identify if standards start to slip. Of course, it’s inevitable that sometimes things go wrong – but if you’re a valued partner, it’s likely your supplier will drop everything to put things right quickly.

• Understanding
Building a working relationship with a supplier means they understand your business. They’ll become an extension of your team, understanding your building and assets as well as you do, and pre-empting issues before they become problems.
Recently, one of our long-term suppliers noticed that a particular specialist part was going out of stock as it was being replaced by a different model. He knew we had lots of buildings that needed that specific part, so arranged to buy and store a batch of the parts for us, meaning we always have quick access to these parts when needed.

• The bottom line
Long-standing relationships lead to better rates. If your supplier knows you’re committed to the relationship with them, it gives them stability and security, and allows them to plan ahead, investing in staff and equipment, growing, and providing you with a better service.
It’s important not to become complacent. We always ensure we benchmark and market test in all our supply chains, ensuring we’re getting value for money so we can pass these savings on to our clients.

• Going the extra mile
Having an honest, candid relationship with suppliers can often prove beneficial. We can have frank, informal conversations with them, taking alternative, innovative approaches to problems which would be impossible with a company we didn’t know so well. If you have a close partnership where you can just pick up the phone to a supplier, it means you can get things done quicker, without going through the formal channels you’d have to with a new contractor.

• Investment
When you know and trust a company, there’s the opportunity to invest in their development, to the advantage of both. For example, if a long term partner has ambitions to be more sustainable, but needs investment to do so, it’s mutually beneficial to both of us if we can help them achieve their aims. Equally, in the past we’ve helped suppliers buy equipment to develop into a new service area, and then we’ve benefitted from priority access to their new services.

Sewell Facilities Management’s longest standing supplier is Kingston Cleaning Services, who have been working with the company for 18 years. Managing Director Sean Carrison says that becoming partners with companies such as Sewell Facilities Management has helped his business grow.

“In the past couple of decades, we’ve had a major expansion, from employing a handful of cleaners, to now delivering cleaning to more than 1,000 buildings nationally, and our partnership with organization such as Sewell Facilities Management has been a huge driver in that.

“The team at Sewell FM know that they can pick up the phone at any time with an urgent request, and we’ll do everything we can to make it happen. In return, we know they’ll call on us first when they have new work.

“Dealing with Sewell FM is more than a supplier-client relationship, it’s a partnership, and the trust they have in us has allowed us to expand what we offer, giving us the stability to train staff in new skills, in the knowledge that we have a consistent pipeline of work coming through.”

Katie Crosby, Business Manager at Sewell Facilities Management, has been working for the company for 15 years, and has seen partnerships with suppliers that have spanned that whole period.

“Working with Kingston Cleaning Services feels like we’re working with an in-house team,” she said. “Recently, we had a client contact us, wanting an urgent deep clean for a large new building they’d just taken over. Sean and his team rearranged their entire week’s schedule to get cleaners over to us in time. Working with supplier partners like this takes it from a purely transactional connection, to a deeper collaboration where we’re working to the benefit of both companies, with the end goal of delighting our clients.”