Med One to One Fall/Winter 2023 ISSUE 77

The Basis of a Good Business Partnership

The Basis of a Good Business Partnership

By Robb Stevens

As a privately held, independent equipment lessor, Med One’s deliberate focus on health care leasing has always been driven by key relationships with equipment manufacturers/distributors, or what we commonly call vendors. As I think about the vendor relationships I’ve worked on during my Med One career, there are many common threads that made them successful, sustainable, and mutually beneficial.

Almost every longstanding vendor relationship that I’ve had any part in working with has originated from a satisfied and engaged hospital customer who thought highly enough of their leasing experience with Med One to seek us out for additional leasing support on other capital acquisition projects. Anytime a customer’s new lease request involves a company we’ve not worked with previously, an opportunity to develop a new vendor relationship has presented itself.

This exact scenario has played out dozens of times over the years. To me, one of the highest compliments any customer can pay us is to bring additional business our way, entrust us with financing their capital needs, and give Med One an opportunity to develop a new vendor partner.

While not all of these exchanges go as well as expected or have long-term staying power, many have grown into excellent partnerships that have been integral to Med One’s ongoing success for many years.

When a buyer comes to us directly for leasing support, there is a high probability of that deal getting done, so those inquiries grab our full attention. As the buyer and user of the equipment, they have direct interest in making it happen, and they see Med One as a means to do it, so customer-direct deals become an immediate priority.

Not surprisingly, our best partnerships have grown with those companies that have a clear understanding and vision of why leasing can enhance their sales efforts.

When a customer introduces us to a supplier or vendor that we’ve not worked with before, we have a golden opportunity to pivot to that new vendor and offer our services to them for their other customers as well. It would be easy to assume that each vendor relationship evolves and functions the same way and can be cultivated in a fairly cookie cutter way. Afterall, its simply one company paying another on behalf of an end user, so what could possibly stand in the way?

The most common challenge that arises is when vendors have an active leasing partner. This could either be a captive lessor (a subsidiary or joint venture with a leasing company to provide direct leasing solutions to customers), a vendor program agreement, or a simple “handshake” agreement. Either way, when such entrenched relationships exist, the incumbent lessors generally get “right of first refusal” on any lease deal that arises. When that is the case, our only way in is to out-perform and out-deliver those we’re competing with and demonstrate why Med One could be a better choice for them.

Good Business Partnerhips

Other challenges exist when an asset a vendor sells is not necessarily a great fit for financing. Perhaps the assets are too specialized or obscure, the useful life of the equipment is too short, or a sales cycle is too long. At times it also becomes quickly apparent that the sales process and organizational structure of some companies is just not accustomed to using financing solutions. This may be due to sales people and sales leadership that don’t think they need customer financing, so they do not embrace it or promote it. I suspect that often, sales people don’t take the time to understand leasing enough to become comfortable discussing it with their customers. When that is the case, the opportunity to promote leasing is limited. Sometimes Senior leadership and accounting teams choose not to accommodate a third party lessor either, despite what a sales person may choose to promote.

Fortunately, the stars do align sometimes. When they do, we’re able to cut through any existing obstacles, and the process evolves smoothly into a new vendor partnership. The ideal vendor scenario is one whose sales process already involves leasing as a sales tool. They actively use it, promote it, and maybe even lead with it. Individual salespeople have prior experience with leasing, understand how it can help them increase their sales, and the company’s AR/AP is open-minded enough to align with Med One as a payor and facilitator of their business. Often, we arrive on the scene at just the right moment when customer and/or vendor is dissatisfied with their existing leasing options.

So, the question is worth asking: Why do some work and others don’t?

Once we identify a good vendor opportunity, there are many things that can be done and must be done to make it a long-term mutually beneficial relationship, but the formula for getting there is simply this:

Step 1:

Close lease deals with active vendor partners and their customers who then become Med One’s customers.

Step 2:

Provide “white glove” service on every single interaction with a customer, building credibility and trust.

Step 3:

A customer’s positive experience with Med One as their lessor will include: simple documents, responsiveness to their needs and expectations, direct access to seasoned lease professionals with their best interest in mind, ease of doing business, and a customer friendly and flexible approach to accounts receivable.

Step 4:

Once a customer has a positive experience with Med One, at some point after a lease commences, a decision maker – often a supply chain professional, remembers their experience with Med One and reaches out for help with another acquisition project.

Step 5:

Embrace the opportunity to pivot from an indirect introduction to a supplier we have not previously worked with, then take the new relationship as far as possible.

Step 6:

Provide white-glove service to the new vendor as well. This is an ideal opportunity to show rather than tell a company how we do business. When we show well, there’s an opportunity to do more.

Not surprisingly, our best partnerships have grown with those companies that have a clear understanding and vision of how leasing can enhance their sales efforts. They correctly see it not as an enhancement to their sales process rather than a hindrance to it. Some companies have this vision well before they meet Med One, so it’s then a matter of showing them what we can do and demonstrating that we can give them something better than they might be getting from another source. When the basic understanding exists, most often an institutional structure also exists at the company to accommodate a 3rd party lessor like Med One.

With this base understanding and efficient collaboration in place between Med One and a vendor, good business partnerships thrive. We have been lucky to foster many good business partnerships since our inception and have continued to build upon those relationships for over thirty years. By providing customers and vendors with positive experiences and white-glove service, key relationships have emerged, and because of that, Med One is able to offer our signature, quality service to good business partners in the future.