One of our favourite quotes is from good, old Winston Churchill. He said, ‘When you’re going through hell, keep going.’ It’s a mantra we’ve applied to our business when times are tough, and right now all businesses are going through tough times.
In this blog we’re going to unpick that concept a little bit further and get to grips with what it means for the future prosperity of all our businesses. To throw another quote out there, ‘no man is an island’ and neither is a business. All of our businesses are part of a chain, we rely on clients to keep our cogs oiled and our suppliers rely on us to do the same for them. In these uncertain and unprecedented (sorry, we know it’s overused but it’s true!)times it is more important than ever to invest in our relationships both up and down the chain.
It comes a little more naturally to invest that time with our clients because they are the hand that feeds us. We check in with them, we network with them, we work hard to keep ourselves front and centre of their minds.
Less instinctive, but also crucial, is to invest time into maintaining the relationships with our suppliers. Opendoorz would not be able to function without the suppliers we use, as is likely to be the case for many of your businesses. So, it’s vital we support the businesses we spend our money with and make sure we show them our loyalty and how much we value them.
Here are our top tips for maintaining professional relationships that keep the business flowing.
#1Show a little empathy
The last 6 months have been devastating for some businesses and a frenzy of craziness for others. Either way all have had to adapt and behave differently. It’s been a steep learning curve. Be tolerant of the pressure, anxiety and fear others feel and before you react to mistakes ask yourself if this is out of the ordinary. Cutting a little slack given the current situation will be hugely appreciated and will, no doubt, be repaid going forward.
#2Keep giving business where you can
Fight the urge to cling onto every penny and cease all spending. In the wider context, to get out of recession we need to carefully keep the business wheels turning. At your own business level, if you benefited from the services of suppliers before then chances are you still will. Common areas that get cut are services that promote your business, such as marketing, social media and business networking, or services that keep you focused and moving forwards, such as coaches and trainers, but this can also be the reason your business falters and maybe even fails during these tough times. Keeping the money moving will undoubtedly help more businesses to survive.
#3Pay your invoices on time
Cash flow can make or break small businesses. Ok, so you might be trying to conserve your coffers too but consider what the impact will be to your business if a supplier you rely on goes under? Pay your suppliers on time and keep the good karma going.
#4Acknowledge your responsibilities
As business owners we have a duty to look after our employees but also, our suppliers. They rely on our business and, just like good employees, we rely on them to keep our businesses running smoothly. Taking time to check in with them and ask if they’re okay will pay dividends in the long run.Showing a little bit of care and consideration will ensure your relationship with your supplier remains positive. That’s going to be invaluable when business starts to pick up and you need them to help fulfil your services to your clients. We recently received a bottle of wine from one of our clients with a note saying we were doing a great job and might enjoy a well-deserved glass. You have no idea how loved that made us feel and determined to carry on doing the best we possibly could. It doesn’t have to be a gift though, a simple thank you goes a very long way!
#5Use their expertise
We use suppliers because they are experts in their field. Make use of that knowledge and experience by discussing issues with them. They might be able to offer a quick and inexpensive insight that makes a big difference.
#6Don’t shy away from difficult conversations
Sometimes, there is no choice but to cut back on spending. Our advice is not to avoid having that conversation with your supplier. There may be a solution, a temporary way to keep the cogs turning, or even a short-term solution that allows you to manage without them. But by speaking to them you keep the channels of communication open and maintain a positive relationship. That should help avoid them ditching you and running to a competitor in the meantime!
At Opendoorz, we are acutely aware that many of our suppliers are the hospitality venues we use for our meetings – a sector that has been badly affected. Throughout lockdown, when we were running Zoom meetings, we maintained regular contact with them and engaged them in discussions about how can return to COVID-safe face to face meetings. Now we’ve resumed meetings in person, we continue to speak to them regularly about how we can help them keep us safe and what measures and improvements we can make. It’s something we see ourselves in together and that’s just the way it should be.
Within our Opendoorz groups many of our members are also in client-supplier relationships. We spend a lot of time in our continuous professional development (CPD) sessions talking about the importance of this and how to continually improve it. You can take part in these types of discussions and more by joining us at a guest event.
Get in touch to find out more: https://www.opendoorz.biz/contact