Guest post contributed by Holly McCarthy
No man is an island, and neither is a business. To survive and grow in the current business environment we must ensure that we maintain strong relationships with not just our customers, but also with our suppliers and other business partners as well. More than the profits we make, it’s the goodwill we earn that’s remembered long after we’re gone and only the business remains. Relationships in a business context are not that different from those we maintain personally or socially – they involve mutual trust and respect. Here’s how you can build business relationships that will stand you in good stead through the ages:
- Offer credit and discounts: When you’ve been in the business for a while, you tend to know instinctively who you can trust and who you cannot. The ones that are trustworthy tend to be more loyal when you offer them trade credits and discounts. Credits allow them to put off paying you immediately for the goods or services you provide while discounts allow them to save money.
- Honor trade credits: Similarly, if you’re at the receiving end of trade credits from your suppliers, pay up according to the promised schedule to avoid unpleasant fallouts and unnecessary altercations and misunderstandings.
- Look inwards: Successful business relationships are not just those that are built with people who are externally connected to your firm; in fact, your most valued relationships should be those that you form with your employees. They are your family at work, and by keeping in touch with their needs, problems and issues, you earn their loyalty and dedication. By staying abreast of the projects they’re working on, their performances, and their general demeanor at work, you have firsthand knowledge of almost all the employees who work for you.
- Stay in touch: What most people who’re aloof or selfish don’t understand is that people don’t like to feel that they’re being used. So if you call someone and keep in touch only as long as they can do something for you, you run the risk of being labeled selfish. Business relationships are not like their social counterparts in that you don’t have to call just to touch base, but there is a way to keep in touch even without the social niceties. If the services of a valued supplier have not been used for a long time because of some reason or the other, it’s best to call and assure them that you will need their services sometime in the near future.
- Build your people management skills: You may be the shrewdest businessman around, but that doesn’t mean you’re the most-liked. It’s a well-known fact that the goodwill you earn is more valuable than the profits you make as a cutthroat shark, so build your people management skills and learn to interact with suppliers, vendors and customers in a gracious manner.
This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of construction management degrees. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com.