To get the most from your equipment vendors, it's important to lay the groundwork and let them know you are a valuable customer. One way to do that is to make sure you send in the service registration card that comes with the product. Contact the vendor before problems arise to ask for all the relevant telephone and fax numbers so you know what to do if disaster strikes. Maintain contact with the vendor by asking questions as they come up and giving the vendor any comments or ideas that might improve the product. This identifies you as an active user and builds your relationship with the vendor.

Excerpted from Start Your Own Business, 2nd edition: The Only Start-Up Guide You'll Ever Need