Effectively on-board suppliers to avoid the re-board blues.

Fasten your seat belts. Convincing suppliers to accept P-Card or enroll in your Virtual Card program can be turbulent at times. To make the journey smoother, think 3-1-1. Three primary activities—preparation, execution and follow-up per each (one) supplier for the desired (one) type of card program, whether P-Card or Virtual Card. However, before going to the supplier level, your organization needs a clear flight plan in the form of a payment strategy that best fits its business and goals. Refer to the previous blog post on regaining a broad perspective.

Ready for Takeoff?

Take off smoothly and stay out of the turbulence with your supplier enrollment campaign.

Take off smoothly and stay out of the turbulence with your supplier enrollment campaign.

Within your enrollment strategy, incorporate education for the supplier about the benefits of P-Cards or Virtual Cards and how, exactly, the purchase-to-pay (P2P) process will work. You do not want to on-board a supplier only to have that supplier drop out of the program later because they didn’t understand what it entails. Re-boarding a supplier can be tougher than the initial on-boarding.

Additional Strategies

At the IFO Fusion conference in May, supplier enrollment strategies were shared by Matthew Dragiff, Vice President, Product Development, AvantGard Payment Services, SunGard. His session pertained to Virtual Cards, but his tips also apply to P-Cards:

  • Understand the supplier/buyer relationship and determine the best approach or tone to take for each supplier. Will you simply offer, strongly encourage or mandate your card program?
  • Create customized communications (e.g., campaign letters) for each type of tone.  
  • Once a supplier enrolls, do not keep sending a check payment. This is confusing to the supplier (and keeps your program in a holding pattern!).

If a supplier declines participation, document why. Plan to follow up again with the supplier at a designated time (e.g., in nine months) in case something changes. See more on the related webpage

A Smooth Landing

Adding to Matthew’s tips, I suggest more follow up efforts with enrolled suppliers:

  • Adjust your AP system/supplier records accordingly to indicate the preferred payment type.
  • Monitor spend with enrolled suppliers to verify they remain on track. An air pocket drop in monthly spend with a particular supplier could indicate your organization reverted back to another payment method. I learned this lesson firsthand.

The Value of Monitoring Spend

During my time as a program manager, I discovered, through a P-Card spend-by-supplier report, that P-Card volume with a key supplier went from thousands of dollars per month to none. The cause was employee turnover. The new person started using a different P2P process. Her manager did not notice nor did AP, who processed the check request. It required some work to return the supplier to P-Card payments.

Supplier enrollment does not need to be painful, but you do need to prepare for the trip.

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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