Why Customer Relationships Are Key to Business Success

SupplyHub is one of the inaugural CoM X members, using the incubator program to refine and propel their business through connections with Hub Australia, RMIT Activator, and the City of Melbourne.

Founder Chris Marshall shares some of his insights into the balance of managing relationships in the fast-paced Melbourne hospitality industry and how his focus on relationships has helped him reach new business connections and customers.


How did you manage your business relationships as you go between suppliers and customers?

Whenever you talk about marketplaces, you always want to tackle the harder side first.

The customer side of onboarding was probably the tougher of the two, because one of our key learnings was that in a B2B space it’s all about relationships.

Small businesses really value their current suppliers – we thought that if people had the opportunity to see all suppliers and all pricing there’d be a bit more shopping around, but it’s not quite like that.

Most businesses are looking for something.

Because we’d been consulting for years at this place, we knew the really good suppliers in the market. We knew the bad ones too. So we brought them on board first and they loved it.

We had a product to show them and really demonstrate the value, and then on the other side, it was a case of us getting out there and showing businesses SupplyHub and the value that they can get.

We’ve been growing at 20% month-on-month, and we’re doing really good things.

How important is maintaining great business relationships?

Essential! On the customer side there is a big value to the relationship, but what we find is that we do a lot of legwork, so we’ve created a consulting arm too.

Bringing on any customer, we go through a process of showing them not just the efficiency, but the actual cost savings. We do a lot of work with them to say, “What are you spending at the moment? What are you buying, what products, how much per month?”

Then we presented them a case to say, well look, here’s where you might save some money. Here’s a set of suppliers that might suit you, based on what sort of business you are, what you told me, what we understand. And then they trial them and off they go.

So we generally come in, we solve a certain problem, a certain supply-side problem. And then it just builds from there, because as I said, we’ve got great suppliers. We bring on their existing suppliers as well. So the platform grows into a core piece of software for them.

Has Com X helped you reach new business connections?

Com X has been really valuable in some of the industry connections, including offering introductions to big bodies and organizations.

Apart from the support and having the resources there, it’s a great way to connect with some of the well-known people and organisations.

We’ve recently connected with the Restaurant and Catering Association, and it’s great. Their membership base is calling for the type of thing SupplyHub offers, so it was great that we were put in contact with them.

What’s one of your favourite success stories?

SupplyHub worked with a caterer in Melbourne – the business was run by a couple, and they were referred from one of my existing clients.

They got in contact and said ‘we’ve just bought this catering business, we’ve got great plans but we need to look at costs – we know we’re spending too much, but we don’t have visibility over it.”

They had problems with what had happened in the business prior to them purchasing it, so SupplyHub came and looked across all their suppliers.

We analysed spending and value, and compared them to the marketplace of suppliers that we had existing relationships with.

In the end, we helped redevelop their whole supply chain, and saved them about 30% of their cost of goods as well as simplifying the way they ordered.

By having an idea about set menus and what products go into those set menus, we were able to build out saved menu ordering for them.

This means they can just change the number of people in the function, and place an order for all their suppliers with no hassle. They know when it’s going to be delivered, they know how much it costs, and they have the assurance of supply.

I especially like that we’ve not only saved them time and money, but that they were referred to us through someone that was sharing our business with their own connections.

Hub Australia

Hub Australia provides stunning spaces and communities for growing businesses, helping members connect and succeed in their businesses.

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