I am co-founder and co-owner of all our business ventures and have worked side by side with my husband and business partner, Kym for the past five years. Kym and I are very different, but our knowledge, skills, experience and passion complements each other. Like all of our team members we both have clearly defined roles and responsibilities within our business and we consider ourselves equal partners.
Despite this, it still frustrates me how some of our service providers interact with both Kym and I, when I am the point of contact for particular areas of our businesses and their lack of consideration for the small things that I perceive matter within a client/service provider relationship. In the past two days alone, I have had three of our service providers do things in terms of forward on or send information to other in the business that they probably don’t even give a second thought, but it has highlighted to me just how often it occurs and how much these things irritate me! I know they are all only small things, but it is these same small things that you don’t forget and are the often the first things you remember when you think about that service provider or look to recommend them to others.
If you are working with a client make sure you are building the relationship with that key contact. Don’t try and big note yourself or undermine your client contact by not addressing your emails or replying to the most appropriate person or provide invites to events that are not to the point of contact. Take the time to build a relationship and engage with the client contact who is trying to communicate and work with you. The same applies with phone calls or meetings, speak to your key contact, don’t just use them to fill in time until someone they perceive is more senior or more high profile comes along or is available.
If you are hosting a work related promotional event, take the time to think about who you are inviting and why, also consider who you are not inviting and why. If you are inviting someone to join you for a business related social event, again look at the why, is there a reason? If it is a gender specific event and you are not able to invite your key client contact but would like to invite someone from that company, that is fine but explain this to your key contact first.
Boys clubs are still alive and well, but women are no different as there are just as many (probably more!) of these similar groups. My point is that you need to be aware of how these behaviours can sometimes be perceived by businesses and organisations and the negative impact they can have on ones reputation if they are not handled well.
They are small things, but they do matter and make a difference. Particularly when you are dealing with small businesses as so many of them are owned and run by husband and wife teams where their different strengths are played out in their businesses with the roles they play.
Be respectful, ensure you engage with the right person and build the relationship accordingly. Your current clients will be your greatest advocates. Treat them well and in the right manner and they will refer others. Word of mouth is the most cost effective way to reach new clients, so make sure you take the time to connect and build your relationships wisely.