How many times have you wondered what makes for a happy business relationship? Well, I don’t know about you, but I am wondering all the time, which made me come up with a few conclusions, based on my so far experience.
1. Firstly, it is a relationship. In my so far experience, whilst working in a company of progressive thinkers, I have realized that clients are no different from other people in my life. With some, I was on first name basis from the get go (thank you Forrest of Moroso Construction, you are a delight to work with). Some are very private people, so I try to give them enough breathing space, yet I retain a presence in their life so they always know they can count on me. With some it’s strictly business. And that’s OK too. I guess the whole philosophy here is to feel the nuances and to make sure you are not overstepping your boundaries. Everyone likes attention, but at the same time, everyone hates being pestered.
2. Another thing you can do is speak so that everyone can understand you clearly. Not all of us are on the same wavelengths. Not all of us speak the same language for that matter. It is vital to keep your language plain and simple whether you are communicating your intent to your colleagues or trying to “seduce” your current or potential business partners. Here, having a language standard, that is, using terminology that everyone involved is familiar with, can help a lot, especially if your business is on the technical side.
3. Building trust is possible only through complete transparency. In AABCO, we know that long lasting relationships with people we provide our services for can be maintained only if there is complete trust between us. To ensure a high degree of transparency we use things like weekly progress reports, progress charts and log sheets, all of which are updated automatically and at any time give our clients insight about quality and status of their order. We also use these methods to alert our customers about any problems or to avoid errors on our side by synchronizing our work with what’s happening on site. All of this comes with the territory, as we are in the business of rebar detailing and worrying about details is like second nature to us.
4. Putting customers in the driver’s seat will go a long way. Believe it or not, this is the fun part. We all have a natural desire for control. When people you work with realize they are in control, and this is equally true for business partners, customers and coworkers, they will play, take risks, take chances on new products or services and they will give feedback. What’s particularly interesting, by being kept in the loop, that is by having control over what they are buying and having a say as equal partners, they will feel responsible for the outcome of your mutual business exchange. When working with AABCO, customers are able to monitor whatever we do pertaining to their order. This quality of visibility makes them more engaged in the whole process, which means that any business deal between us is no longer just a business deal. It becomes a creative undertaking. The key word here is customization. We do it with our services and products too. For instance when developing new construction software, we leave a lot of room for people to adapt it to their special needs. The fun is in the journey and sharing the driver’s seat, if you know what I mean.
5. Lastly, it is a relationship. Ask yourself, when do you know you’re in a happy relationship? Is it the balance of give and take? Is it respect and security? Is it transparency and equal share in control? Trust and peace of mind?
For me, it’s all that, plus having my needs met before I even have to ask. It’s when your “significant other” delivers even before they promise, as if they are always a few steps ahead in anticipating your deepest wishes and aspirations. Well, that’s the sort of partner I want, and that’s the kind of partner I strive to be, especially in business relations.
What kind of business partners do you like working with? And what kind of business partner are you?