We have all heard it said and said it ourselves: the construction industry is a relationship business. But what does that mean? Plain and simple no business will survive without relationships. To make a profit, there must be sales of a product or service. To create the product or develop a service, relationships are required with suppliers and investors. To sell the product, there needs to be a relationship of trust built with the customer. To manage the business, company leaders and managers must build a relationship with our teams based on trust, respect and understanding. Our customers, our associates, our investors, our managers, our leaders are all humans. Humans are complex emotional beings. No two people are the same. Everyone has different needs, desires, aspirations, values and expectations.
To create successful relationships it is up to us to discover and leverage these unique variables, build exceptional teams, which create successful companies. It takes building and managing ongoing relationships to unearth, develop and maximize the talent on our teams and the desires of our customers. When we focus on managing relationships, we gain strength, which allows us to move ahead of the competition, serve the needs of our customers and achieve our goals.
Underestimating the importance of business relationships equates to underestimating the importance of solid foundations in a building, and will set your business up to stagnate and eventually crumple.
The following are some guidelines we use at A.H. Harris to maintain focus on relationships.
Go Above and Beyond. Combine top quality service and products with hands-on and attentive service. Make that follow up call. Double check an order. When we show we care, we build a rapport, which in turn should create loyalty and long-lasting relationships.
Make the effort to learn about your customers and your associates. If given the opportunity, break bread together. It’s nice to work with people who you like both professionally and personally, and it helps in creating long-term bonds.
Stay in touch. A relationship requires constant attention, even if there is not a big project in the works. This doesn’t have to be a personal visit, it can be an e-mail, a sharing of an article, a hand written note, a quick call to catch up or a text message. My sisters and I exchange text messages almost daily, most of the time it’s just a word or an emoji but it makes my day to know they are thinking of me.
The more we listen to our customers and our teams and demonstrate that we truly value their opinion, the more they’ll support the mission. Consistently communicate the value of their feedback. When you get feedback, share it with those who need to know! (What do I know? Who needs to know? Have I told them?) Continuous improvement is critical for our growth. When you are at home and a family member (son, daughter, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend) is telling you about their day, listen – put down your phone, newspaper or stop what you are doing and be in the moment.
I find that being willing to bend the rules is important in maintaining relationships. When something goes wrong we can deliver a lot of extra value by being flexible; putting in an extra hour of overtime, going in on a Saturday, answering that Sunday phone call or e-mail. It is typically appreciated and it shows we are there for our customers and team members on multiple levels.
Admit when we are wrong
In order to create long lasting relationships the principles of traditional human relationships still apply. This means admitting when we are wrong and even saying, I am sorry! Sometimes a good old “I am sorry” goes a long way.
Numbers are only part of the equation. If we can’t get the people around us to support us and our strategy, we will not succeed.
Business is personal and relationships matter.
As always I look forward to hearing from you and value your input, firstname.lastname@example.org