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Business-To-Business Etiquette


There comes a time in the running of a business when you have to hire another business. It’s usually a sign of something positive; you have a new innovation or are going through an expansion that you require assistance with.

Nevertheless, it can be a trying time, especially if you have been in charge of employees for so long. Your usual techniques and etiquette for dealing with others may be curated around how to speak to - for want of a better word - underlings. When it comes to dealing with another company, you have to entirely change the way that you operate, or you risk causing offence. And that’s just the best case scenario: if you get a reputation for being difficult to deal with, then you might find your business out in the cold.

Etiquette #1: Treat Other Businesses As Equals

Just because you are hiring another business does not give you the position of being the one who is in charge, or the de facto “boss”.

As an example, let’s say you’re bringing in a company like Analogue Electrics Ltd because your office needs some wiring work. You’re the one paying the bill, so you’re the one in charge… is exactly how you shouldn’t approach that situation.

Instead, think of what’s really happening: you (or your company) is lacking in expertise, so you are having to consult someone who knows what they are doing. That’s a good thing - fiddling around with electricity when you’re a novice is a surefire way to a nightmare. So you have to respect this expertise rather than assuming the role of being ‘in charge’. You need help because your company is lacking in some way, so it makes sense to be respectful instead of overbearing.

Etiquette #2: Keep It Professional

If you find yourself dealing with another business owner, then there is a sense of kinship that is inevitable when you discuss the work. You’re both at the top of the mountain - so a little bonding over bad employees and annoying suppliers isn’t going to do any harm, is it?

It might not in the moment, but a reputation for being loose-lipped and gossiping isn’t going to do you any favours. Keep your venting to like-minded people online, where you can indulge in forums and - most importantly - keep it anonymous. You don’t want other companies making bad assumptions about how you handle business.

Etiquette #3: Be Prompt With Payment

This should go without saying, but sadly, that’s not always the case.

You should understand better than anyone the costs that can be involved in running a business - and how difficult it can be to overcome late payments. It’s important to have reliable businesses you can contact for any work you need doing, so don’t scorch a contact by being late with a payment. Treat the invoices that you receive as bills and pay them.

If you’re wavering over this, then keep this in mind: say you needed an electrician as you did with the above example. You have the work done, get the invoice, but your outgoings are tight this month so you delay on payment. In the mean time, you have an unrelated electrical problem. Do you think that company is going to come back out to fix your issue, if you’ve not paid your bill? Of course not, so you’re left with another gamble on a company you don’t know, when you could have used a trusted supplier.

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