By Steve Moran
In the course of just a couple of days, I heard two stories that left me scratching my head.
Story 1 — Senior Living Providers Are the Worst
I have a good friend who works as a field vendor rep that services restaurants, bars, schools, and senior living communities. A couple of weeks ago we went hiking and he started telling how senior living communities are his least favorite places to call on and service. That is not quite right . . . the words he used were “they are the worst”.
After hearing his story, I tend to agree.
Story 2 – Vendor to Vendor
Just a few days later, I was talking to another vendor who does business both with senior living providers and with other senior living vendors. He told me about what a “pain in the a**” one of the vendors is. They are demanding and never happy. It is a curious thing because I know the vendor he was having problems with and they would hate being treated that way by their senior living customers.
Are We Cannibals?
I know many of you have amazing vendor relationships and so you can skip all of this if you like . . . except for one thing . . . further down the article.
I find myself wondering if we are really just some sort of sophisticated kind of cannibalistic tribe. We abuse the vendors we need to do a great job of serving residents, families, and team members. And then when vendors abuse vendors, honestly it is simply a head shaker. They do the very thing that they would hate having done to them.
You Have No Idea
The abuse seems to mostly be happening at the property level, so maybe you are thinking, that is not me, that its not my organization, when, in fact, you may have executive directors, food service directors, maintenance directors, housekeeping directors who are doing this very thing and you simply don’t know it is happening.
It seems to happen for a couple of reasons. Power is Fun — Fun is maybe not quite the right word. Maybe it should be that power is like a drug and drugs are addictive and feel really good in the moment. The problem is that ultimately power and drugs, when misused, can be powerfully destructive.
- Power is Fun — Fun is maybe not quite the right word, maybe it should be that power is like a drug and drugs are addictive and feel really good in the moment. The problem is that ultimately power and drugs, when misused, can be powerfully destructive.
- I Need Someone to Blame — If things are going wrong — low census, high turnover, rising costs, vendors become a favorite target. They can’t really fight back and, in fact, oftentimes the one being abused has very little power to make things better or to fight back.
In the moment, the abuser will likely get what they want, but over the longer term, it always creates a suboptimal relationship. That vendor that is being abused will never give you the very best deal. They will never refer a friend to move into your community, they will help your team members find new jobs and you will never know.
It is rare if ever that you have a perfect vendor relationship. There will be times when every single one of them will annoy you. And, yes you will annoy them. When you as a leader approach problems as opportunities for solutions you will get a ton more from your vendors . . . treat them well and then don’t be afraid to ask them nicely for favors.
You will be amazed at what will happen.