Vendor Vs. Thought Partner:
Which Do You Need?

Posted by Sally Nabors - February 25, 2020


About this time last year, I went on the search for a new living room set. Our existing furniture was an eclectic mix of pieces – some from my husband’s single days, some from mine - and they sustained considerable abuse over the years from our dogs. You could say they were dated, bulky, and no longer functional for our needs.

I spent hours reviewing the options available, never quite seeing what felt like us. Not all off-the-shelf options fit every need, and if we were going to invest in something new, we were going to ensure it was right. After all, we need to live in it.

The Custom Experience

Eventually, my husband and I walked into a custom furniture store, interested in the opportunity to have something designed specifically to fit our lifestyle. We realized that sometimes to do big things, you need help to make it happen.

I mean, how many clients do we encounter who are trying to shift their corporate culture, for example. For them, as with us, it can be difficult to see an approach that varies from what you have always been doing. That’s the benefit of a partner - to present a fresh perspective and a plan for implementation utilizing expertise in the task at hand.

So we jumped in. Our designer asked a slew of questions about our needs and tastes and then requested to come to our house to measure the space, see our style and show us some samples and fabrics in the context of our home. My immediate concern was the time this process was going to take – and I know this is often a concern when we offer a custom solution to our clients as well.

At Reflection Software we also design solutions to replace dated, bulky, and no longer functional options. We ask a lot of questions, probe into learning objectives, and take the time to develop strategies that fit our client’s brand and motivate their specific learner audiences. The time utilized is still time well spent, and this was no exception.


Elevated Outcome

What we gained was an elevated outcome. Our designer used fresh eyes to present textures, colors, and orientation options that I wouldn’t have come up with myself, because I couldn’t see beyond how the room had always looked. Some options went beyond my comfort level and some perhaps didn’t push far enough, but the range enabled me to see the solution that best met our needs and looked like us. Her expertise and attention to detail created an environment that we will happily live in for a much longer period of time.


A Place for Both

So, do you need a vendor or a thought-partner? For us and our clients, we’ve found there is a place for both. The same way not every piece of furniture I buy in the future will be custom, every client is also different and their needs will vary. Some clients use Reflection Software as their whole solution, others just as a part of it, and sometimes we even integrate with other vendors to create a joint solution. We work with each client on a per-need basis to craft an outcome they can happily live with for a long period of time.

Partner vs Vendor V2

What types of solutions are you looking for? Would branding an off-the-shelf option work for your needs? Or are you trying to do big things, like shift your company culture? (Check out our eBook on this topic!) In those cases, a custom solution might be the better match. In either case, make sure there is one constant - the level of service and attention that you receive.

Topics: Company Culture, training and development

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