The Relationship/Production Paradox
Relationships. It's what makes the world we live in work. There are many relationships we're involved with on a daily basis: husband/wife, parent/child, teacher/student, manager/employee.
But one of the more unrefined and least understood relationships in the graphic arts is the buyer/supplier. Most designers would likely not define themselves as buyers, but they are.
They evaluate and procure goods and services (supplies, photography, illustration, print, media, etc.) for a variety of clients and projects. Even designers with a production staff are often required to provide input on decisions regarding goods or services.
By and large, most designers/buyers rely on the suppliers with whom they have a strong working relationship. These relationships develop over time, because the supplier understands the operations and requirements of the designer/buyer and their organization.
A friendly and comfortable association builds, to where each comprehends the needs and demands of the other, and each knows what expectations can be met. There is certainly nothing wrong with a strong and trusting association that exists for the benefit of both parties, where each gives and takes from the relationship.
A paradox develops, however, when a new supplier provides a unique product or service that's not offered by the current supplier, or when the current supplier can no longer satisfy needs and requirements as they have in the past.
The new supplier might also educate and keep the designer/buyer better informed of changes in products and services, and even changes in their respective industry as a whole. The designer/buyer is then torn between maintaining the existing, comfortable relationship, or losing that investment, and cultivating a new relationship.
But how should a designer/buyer be receptive to new suppliers? Any supplier worth their weight understands the dynamics of the buyer/supplier relationship. It's what all sales professionals strive for in dealing with clients.