Robert sat in the reception area of his top prospective client, and took another look at his watch.

His prospect was 20 minutes late for their meeting.

They had set up the meeting to review the engagement letter Robert had submitted to him 3 weeks ago.

Mr. Prospect had been largely unavailable and had left 2 of Robert’s emails unanswered after their last meeting with Robert even though he had said he was ready to move forward and approve the engagement letter.

He told Robert he was “sorry” but he was so busy at this time of year. Robert felt “lucky” to get this face to face meeting with Mr. Prospect. But now, here he was, waiting and worrying that Mr. Prospect would rush him through their discussion once he finally got into the conversation.

Fast forward 18 months.

Mr. Prospect calls Robert. He has been released from his firm and is looking for a new position. Perhaps Robert can keep him in mind for any positions that may cross his path? After all, he is working with many of Mr. Prospect’s former competitors so he will probably be the first to hear of any openings and opportunities.

How eager do you think Robert will be to help Mr. Prospect in his new job search?

The word “vendor” may have 6 letters but it is often spoken like a four-letter word among professionals.

Most business owners and professionals think long and hard about how they treat their clients.

But… 

When was the last time you thought about how you  treat your vendors? 

Have you been naughty or nice to them this past year?

When I was in my corporate management role, I was admittedly thoughtless about my vendors and learned a painful but oh-so-valuable lesson.

My boss found out about my leaving vendors waiting for long periods of time, not returning their phone calls promptly, and leaving their quotes and proposals dangling.

Rightfully, she gave me a lesson I never forgot. You see, she made me feel how my vendors felt when I dissed them.

Now, that I’m a vendor to my clients I can tell you how wonderful it is when they honor and respect me, and conversely how unpleasant it is when they are thoughtless, unavailable, uncommunicative, deceitful, and downright rude. It isn’t personal, true, but unpleasant nonetheless.

Here are some top ways you can easily fall into the trap of under-valuing your vendors, and the cost to you and your practice or business:

1. You don’t return their phone calls.

2. You leave them waiting for appointments or cancel repeatedly.

3. You don’t give them valuable information that can help them provide the best service and pricing for you.

4. You aren’t straightforward with them. You leave them thinking you do want to do business with them when you really don’t.

5. You pit one vendor against another simply to reduce pricing. I’m not talking about  fair and square price negotiating. I mean you just kick the tires of one vendor to help you reduce the fees from another.

6. You ask for proposals you have little or no intention of reading thoroughly or considering.

7. You bring unexpected and unannounced attendees into meetings with them and thoughtlessly throw an entire new dynamic into the conversation.

8. You are not the real decision maker but lead them to believe you are.

If you (or any of your staff) have engaged in any, or perhaps several of these practices, consider this:

 How it would be for you (or them) to experience this kind of behavior?

 And the cost to you?

Well it may seem like no skin off your nose – now. After all, you really are busy, or distracted, or don’t  need them at the moment.

But vendors have a way of changing roles and positions, as professionals do these days.

Your vendor today could wind up being your prospective client tomorrow, or your new boss, or the owner of a company you really do need services from, or someone who can tell others about your bad behavior that could damage your business or your career.

People may not remember what you tell them but they will always remember how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou

‘Tis the season to think about whether you’ve been naughty or nice.

You’ve got a terrific opportunity to make things right (or “righter”) with them in 2015.