5 Business Relationships You Need to Build and Maintain
No business owner can do it alone. Whether you're a small start-up or large global brand, you have to rely on other people for your business to survive. This involves not only building relationships with those you will need to work with, but also keeping these business relationships healthy. At times, this can be difficult. However, with constant communication in the workplace, there is no reason you can’t send emails, schedule meetings, or even speak face to face with your contacts.
Developing relationships is essential to success for any business, no matter the industry. Building relationships help build your team, expand your customer base, negotiate with vendors and network with colleagues. Although the hardest part is getting these relationships established thankfully, maintaining them is a much easier process.
Role of Communication in Business Relationships
Relationships is the key to thriving in the business world today and communication is the foundation of those relationships. Whether it’s internal or external, communication needs to be clear in order to be effective. It should also be concise and correct to capture the attention of employees, customers and business partners.
When it comes to communication, there are 7 principles known as the 7 C’s of Effective Communication. These principles help businesses build and maintain healthy relationships. They are:
When organizations do not utilize these, it can lead to misunderstandings and ultimately ruin relationships. These are certainly not things a company wants to deal with. But when used correctly, the 7 C’s of Effective Communication will allow you to provide plain, clear written and verbal communication in a well-structured manner.
Now that we’ve emphasized the importance of communication in relationships, let’s explore 5 business relationships that are vital in the industry:
One of the most important relationships that need a good amount of time and attention is the employer-employee relationship. It is vital for employers to foster great relationships with their employees. This can involve creating an enjoyable company culture by throwing engaging holiday parties, providing good wages, benefits and more. An employer-employee relationship is important to the growth and efficiency of your business operations.
Now this relationship doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time for it to nurture and grow. But the proper management of this relationship is imperative to business success, as strong relationships can lead to greater employee happiness and even increased productivity.
It’s important to note that employer and employee relationships should be mutually respectful. Some employers keep their employees at a distance while others choose to have a friendlier, or more relaxed relationship, with their employees. Neither method is wrong. But at the end of the day, there needs to be an understanding that the employer-employee relationship is a mutual one. The employer is relying upon the employee to perform his/her job to keep the business running smoothly, and the employee is relying upon the employer to provide payment for services rendered and a work environment that is conducive for the tasks being performed.
When employees have a strong, healthy relationship with their employers, the entire company benefits in multiple ways:
Employee loyalty (and cost savings!)
Employees who don't have good relationships with their employers are more likely to leave. When an employee feels comfortable and appreciated, they're far more likely to remain loyal. And when employees stay, companies can benefit financially as they aren’t spending as much on recruiting, hiring and training new workers.
A calm, peaceful, conflict-free workplace is a great workplace! Conflicts reduce productivity levels, increase disharmony, and create an overall negative vibe in the workplace, making it uncomfortable and unwelcoming for employees. The time and energy many businesses spend dealing with internal conflicts could be better spent working.
As previously mentioned, a positive employer-employee relationship is productive. The more productive employees are, the more revenue your company can potentially generate. Employees that enjoy their job and come to work each day happy with a positive outlook, are more likely to put forth their best effort and maintain a personal stake with the projects they work on.
Businesses cannot survive without customers. Giving your attention to your customers is essential to keeping your business thriving. In today’s competitive business environment, excellent customer service is essential for success. The way you treat your current customers, as well as prospective ones, may be the key to differentiating your business from the competition. And it also makes an impact when it comes to retaining your customers.
Staying in touch and communicating with your customers is such an important action. That all-important follow up from the moment a customer makes contact can go a long way. Honestly, an email, a phone call, a text, even a handwritten note just to say thank you and acknowledge customers for their business leaves a long lasting impression. Forty-four percent of consumers say they will after a personalized shopping experience; 40 percent bought something they hadn’t planned to purchase as a result of personalization. Develop that customer relationship and you could have a customer for life.
Here are 5 suggested customer retention strategies that can apply to any size business. Some may or may not work with your budget and what you can feasibly offer, while some have no monetary value at all and viewed as even more important when building and establishing that customer relationship for the long term:
- Reward your customers. Send them a gift, provide them with a lead, offer a discount for their continued patronage; help them generate business.
- Use your customers’ services and buy their products. There is no better way to build loyalty.
- Return phone calls promptly. Since so many people don’t return calls, you automatically gain an advantage when you do.
- Be accessible. Show customers that you are available and willing to help them whenever there is a problem. Your business should be open to meet the convenience needs of your customers.
- Make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Do things for the customer’s convenience, not yours. The easier you make it for your customer to do business with you, the more business you'll have. Determine all the ways you can eliminate the “hassle factor.”
When it comes to the customer relationship, treating people the way they want to be treated really matters. It really comes down to the fact that good communication and human relations skills equal good customer relations.
For some business structures, lenders, investors, and other stakeholders are key to funding your business. If you don’t have a solid, amicable relationship with these key people, it can lead to financial trouble for your business. Stakeholders are invested in your organization, they have something to gain or lose as a result of how well your business is doing (or in some cases, not doing). Stakeholders' attitudes, decisions, and actions are done for mutual benefit – yours and theirs. They need to gain from the relationship, or they may not be sufficiently motivated to cooperate and can pull funding.
There are a number of ways to keep your company’s stakeholders pleased:
Set clear objectives
Having clear objectives is essential to balance stakeholder requirements because they help you justify any decisions you make. A clear business plan or project scope is the key to success. It clarifies the requirements of the stakeholder(s) and gives them a guide as to what’s happening. This also helps set attainable goals for the business/project and can determine if it is successful or not.
Involve Stakeholders in your business/project.
Promoting your project is also an important part of the stakeholder relationship. Get them involved in the business/project and ask for their help. The more people are aware of your product/service and make a purchase, the more it mutually benefits both of you. In certain scenarios, the more your stakeholders are involved, the more they positively perceive the project and increase their confidence in it. This is an important step to get their buy-in and keep their monetary support.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Again, communication is so important. To avoid misunderstandings and confusion, communicate with stakeholders regularly by hosting meetings to keep them informed on the business/project’s progress. It gives them a heads-up on potential risks and changes to the initial project plan.
Pricing, quality products, and timely orders are the backbone of your logistics and warehouse operations. Maintaining a good relationship with your suppliers (such as paying them on time and otherwise remaining a trustworthy partner) will be critical in getting your products in and out on time, and staying on budget.
Not all suppliers are the same. These relationships can vary and you can’t use a “one approach fits all” attitude. Most of the time, successful supplier relationships require planning and hard work. In order to maximize the value of supplier relationships, it’s vital to:
See a trend here? The inability to convey or receive important information from your suppliers can end up turning your business operation upside down. Businesses have to communicate with their suppliers frequently in order to transmit their requirements effectively and get a better understanding of their suppliers’ capabilities. Many businesses are on the line based on their relationship with their suppliers. Unfortunately, when communication fails, so can the business.
Treat your suppliers the way you want to be treated
You need your suppliers! By treating them as a valuable partner to your business rather than a second-hand thought, you are showing them how much you value them and what they bring to your business. Involve them in key strategic decisions like setting clear objectives, how to get products to customers more effectively, if there are cost-savings measures that benefit both of you. Building this relationship enables you to tap into their expertise and affords you other potential benefits like increased trust and preferential treatment.
If your company utilizes multiple vendors, who in turn all have specific prices/projects/bids, it could be beneficial to employ a vendor management module that can help manage communication with vendors. It’s easy to get confused if you are going from one supplier to another. Incorporating a vendor management tool enables you to keep all of the information on your vendors up-to-date, not letting them fall through the cracks, and making sure they feel valued.
Business Competition Relationships
You’ve probably heard the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Many businesses take that attitude when it comes to the competition. They are all competing for the same customer and it can get pretty cut-throat at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Competitors can actually push a company to do better. Whether your business is there to improve an industry or provide a product/service to better the lives of others, it’s likely that your competition is perhaps feeling the same frustrations or experiencing many of the same issues that you are. By collaborating with your competition, you may gain a better understanding of where your business is going wrong and recreate some of the success other similar businesses have been able to achieve.
In business, it is never good to burn a bridge, mostly because you simply do not know what will happen with your company down the road. Honestly, for all you know the competition might buy you out or could acquire your business! When it comes to the competition, keeping all lines of communication open and friendly is a good policy to practice.
Building business relationships also require a specific set of tools to keep all the various connections and contacts in order. Asset Panda has built a solid business relationship with its customers by providing outstanding customer service and a constantly improving product when it comes to the tracking and management of a company’s assets and inventory.