The Value of Face-to-Face Meetings with Your Staffing Suppliers

The human capital business is all about people. So why would you de-humanize the process of supplier management when your success is based on the positive relationships you foster with all stakeholders — from talent to staffing suppliers and everyone in between? The best, most successful managed services programs (MSPs) enjoy true partnerships between the program team and the staffing suppliers supporting the program’s needs.

Modern technology is a double-edged sword. It has made us more efficient by allowing us to supplant live meetings with emails, calls and Skype conferences. Yet nothing is ever as effective as in-person, face-to-face interaction with the supplier partners who sustain your business. Here are some things that you (or your MSP provider) should consider the next time you are planning a supplier meeting.

Nonverbal Communication is Incredibly Insightful

Meeting a staffing supplier in person affords you a much deeper understanding of their style and personality. The cues you can pick up from body language alone will be more valuable than what you’ll learn through a large volume of phone conversations. It’s also important to remember that while first impressions are critical, you must remain open-minded and avoid making hasty judgements right out of the gate. After all, the value of in-person meetings is to gain more than just a superficial impression of your supplier partner.

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But Time is Money

Yes, time is money and face-to-face meetings expend more of both. But remember, although live meetings require a greater investment of time, they allow you to assess the level of dedication and willingness to serve that your supplier partner is inclined to deliver. Plus, the human interaction provides a higher level of confidence to both sides and helps establish stronger bonds of trust — a crucial element in any successful partnership.

How Long Should These Meetings Be?

Meetings don’t have to be long, drawn-out events. They may be brief, introductory meet-and-greets of approximately 10 to 15 minutes. They can have specific agendas or simply be casual and unstructured, allowing conversation to unfold as needed. More than anything, the get-together is an opportunity to learn about one another’s companies, business models and philosophies and to share best practices. Further, personal meetings allow more candid conversations, affording both parties to speak more freely. Most people love to talk about themselves, share knowledge, stories, life lessons. Learning as much as possible about the person you’re doing business with will only be an asset to your partnership and your business.

Where Should We Meet?

The location for meetings may vary based on many factors. Inviting suppliers to your office will help demonstrate the investment you’re prepared to make to strengthen your partnership. Meeting at the staffing supplier’s location will tell you a lot about their company, such as the nature of their organizational culture or the level of professionalism of their company and personnel. Neutral environments are an advantage when negotiations are imminent, helping both parties to feel more at ease. A neutral environment is always a better option when there is a challenging or difficult situation to address (like an issue with a worker or when you’re looking for some atypical support). Mealtime meetings like coffee or lunch get-togethers provide a bonding experience which is conducive to a deeper view into a supplier’s personality. Conversations over food and drink often lead to relevant knowledge not as easily captured otherwise.

Overall, your supplier partners will be more willing to work harder to support your business — and encourage their teams to work harder — if they have engaged with you on a more personal level. And face-to-face meetings are a critical component for cultivating that positive association between you and your supplier partners.

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Ronnie Kihlstadius
Ronnie Kihlstadius is marketing director of nextSource Inc., a New York City-based MSP/VMS provider.