Communication, trust and respect are just a few signifiers you might use to describe a quality and functional customer service relationship. However, those attributes extend far beyond the customer service realm and can also be used to describe foundational characteristics of a valuable vendor relations framework.
Just as customers may rely on a managed waste service provider to deliver quality, timely and cost-effective services to tackle their waste and recycling needs, those providers also rely on their trusted networks of vendors and suppliers to uphold those same principles to achieve maximum success and efficiency for customers’ waste and recycling programs. While Waste Harmonics isn’t a national hauler with its own fleet of trucks or a recycling machinery manufacturer, the company engages a dedicated nationwide network of more than 5,000 independent hauler and recycling partners who can service front load and roll-off, as well as other waste and recycling removal requirements for customers.
In this Q&A, Waste Harmonics Vice President of Equipment and Vendor Relations Brian Leonard provides a glimpse at the Waste Harmonics vendor relations process and shares a few considerations for building fruitful partnerships with service providers.
Who is considered a Waste Harmonics vendor partner?
The biggest sector of our company is by far the haulers or the actual rolling equipment that goes out and picks up the garbage for our customers. They’re our partners to provide that necessary service. But we also have vendors on the equipment side who we rely on and have great relationships with who provide essential repairs, fixes or installations on waste and recycling equipment to keep our customers’ waste and recycling operations running smoothly. There’s nothing more upsetting to a customer than when one of their compactors goes down and gridlocks a production line, so whether it’s an emergency or planned maintenance, those partners are the ones who help to “put the fire out” and get operations back on track.
What attributes does Waste Harmonics look for in a successful vendor relationship?
We constantly look for new partners out in the marketplace and our team is very in tune with what’s going on in the industry — we’re dialed in and work with a network of around 5,000-plus vendors and partners.
First and foremost with any partner is safety (e.g., Are they taking the waste stream or recycling materials to the proper facilities?). We need to trust that they’re going to be good environmental stewards on behalf of our customers.
Quality of service is also important. While we seek the most cost-effective programs for our customers, we’re not looking to nickel and dime our partners — that’s not what our model has ever been based on. However, we do understand there is a cost for quality service, and when we agree to that cost with our partners, that’s what we ultimately expect.
Integrity and follow-through are equally important. Quite simply, do they do what they say they’re going to do and when they promised to do it? When we look at our partners, the ones who show up to support us and our customers are the ones who stand out.
How does a successful vendor relationship ultimately benefit customers?
As a testament to the strength of our relationships, when customers get in a pinch, our partners are willing to go the extra mile for us. It’s the relationship and the partnership that’s developed through phone calls, meetings and networking, all led by our tenured team who have been in the industry for a collective 100 years and who truly know how to build relationships.
What’s the Waste Harmonics difference when it comes to vendor relationships?
We respect and treat our partners in the same fashion we would any of our customers. We’re not a broker and they’re not a commodity — it’s a true partnership and a long-term investment in that relationship.
When we go to tradeshows, it’s rewarding to hear from our partners who enjoy doing business with us because we don’t nickel and dime them, we pick up the phone and answer their calls, or we’re willing to reach out and have a conversation or meet face-to-face in today’s virtual world. We’re willing to go that extra mile and make sure that the “handshake” is still a quality that shows who we are.
What we also can provide our partners with is a willingness to help them grow their business. As we bring on new business and grow Waste Harmonics, we’re willing to sit down with our partners and help them grow in a new market and flourish. We’re willing to understand what our partners’ growth strategy is and help them achieve that growth alongside us. If they’re successful, we’re successful.
Don’t work with us yet? If you’re looking to have a true partner in your business’ growth, consider reaching out to our team today.