My team, the Marketing Analytics & Consulting team, recently had our 2nd Annual Partnership Summit at the Chocolate Factory on October 10th. The New York office was buzzing as internal teams from OCHWW, greater Ogilvy & Mather, and clients roamed the halls eating, drinking wine, listening to presentations and meeting with various vendors. It was a wonderful turnout of around 200 total people who all found their way to try and win the door prize of the day, a Google Chromebook. A great and successful event, but also got me thinking. We had 10 total outside vendor partners at our event, in our building, trying to “sell” to our clients and teams. We trust them to sell their services and also not say anything wrong that would deter a plan or strategy from happening.
We were 100% covered for the day as each one of the vendors that attended has an agreement and is an OCHWW-approved vendor, but how many times do we invite vendors to our building, our office, our conference room, or our desks to talk to us, our clients, and our teams without a partnership agreement? What are our expectations? How do we partner with them?
Vendor partnerships have a lot of similarities to dating. They often start out with high expectations and aspirations and a common vision, and can end up in screaming matches over money and ex’s! But there is a way to avoid many of the stresses of a vendor relationship break-up – always have a partnership agreement. Think of it like a pre-nup where you and your partners agree upfront about the reason for your relationship and what will happen if either of you disagree or decide the relationship should end.
Having a partnership agreement in place is essential from the very beginning. Don’t leave these matters to chance or ignore it just because there are no problems at a point in time. You never know what is around the corner.
More than any other reason to have a partnership agreement is liability. If there’s no written agreement outlining specific arrangements, all partners are legally equally responsible for decisions made on behalf of the business, and must share profits and cover losses equally.
While every partnership agreement will be different, depending on the nature of the business, there are certain issues they usually cover, including:
- How much money each partner brings into the partnership
- What the different roles and responsibilities of each are
- How disagreements are solved
- What is to happen if a partner wants out
- What guarantees will departing partners be permitted to have
Make breaking up easier to do. While a partnership agreement won’t cover you against all eventualities, it will go a long way to saving you time and money in the case of a disagreement or split.
All vendor partnerships are different. Sometimes we’re all friends but still have a clear agreement put together upfront. It’s worth spending the time and money.
Our Partnership Summit was successful in educating everyone who joined on different services that external partners provide. But without the peace of mind of a partner agreement, the event would have been very stressful.
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