Whether you had an easy or difficult time sourcing your Chinese supplier, it’s likely not going to be that easy to sever ties with your China supplier. You did your due diligence, sent emails, requested samples, took a trip to tour the manufacturing facility or meet with the supplier–it was certainly a serious investment. You don’t want to burn a bridge that you may need to cross again in the future, and you don’t want to be on the radar of other potential suppliers as a terrible customer.
There are many reasons why you may need to cut ties with your supplier. Perhaps they’ve been routinely late with your product, or maybe you’re rebranding and have different needs. Maybe you’ve found someone cheaper. Whatever the reason, you want to be kind and professional about the split. Here’s how to go about it.
Start with the good news. You want to bring up all of the success you have had with their help. Highlight the role their contribution has made to the success of your business. Be sure to sincerely thank your supplier for everything they have done for you and your business.
Get into the meat of the situation. Tell the supplier about any challenges, thoughts or concerns you’re having regarding the relationship. Here is where you want to bring up the difference between your needs and their capabilities. You can explain how things are changing for you and your business, make any references to market value or the economy. You don’t have to be entirely specific, but you do need to make note of the main reason you want to part ways.
End with a request to bring the relationship to a formal close. Your supplier will need to develop a plan to sunset the partnership, so be sure to make the request. This may involve the transferring of certain data, technical plans or other files being erased, returned to your or transferred to a new supplier. Be sure to make your request in writing and be patient when waiting for their response.
Typically, there is a signed contract, so before making any break-up communications, it is important to look at that first. See what the terms of cancellation include, any specific timelines or notification information, costs and any other details that will impact you separating from your supplier. If you come across any items that you are not particularly pleased with, be sure to negotiate for better cancellation terms in your next supplier contract. Although, severing ties is not the goal, entering into a business contract with an exit in mind is a great practice. It’s never any fun getting stuck holding the short end of the stick.
Whether you are a business owner or an employee handling the relationship between your company and a supplier, these steps can help you make the break more smoothly and pleasantly. It’s tough saying good-bye sometimes, but when you go about it the right way, the door will still be open to you should you ever need their services again.