Establishing relationships the key to business success
August 1, 2002
One of life's little pleasures for me involves hitting my local establishment for the occasional beverage. It's not that I owe a particular allegiance to the owner or a fondness for their food - altho...
One of life’s little pleasures for me involves hitting my local establishment for the occasional beverage. It’s not that I owe a particular allegiance to the owner or a fondness for their food – although I hear it’s exceptional – I enjoy the people, from white collar to blue, who make the place what it is.
It truly is a “Cheers” atmosphere where everybody does know your name and yes, we have our versions of Norm and Cliff that attend regularly.
By far, the biggest attraction to the establishment is the staff. Relax guys, it’s not what you think. Yes, they are pleasant to look at but that’s not what I’m getting at. In my eyes, they are the reason for its success.
They not only know our names and what we drink – many restaurants and bars have that going for them – but they represent the establishment as people who do care about us and our lives.
We celebrated together when the Canadians won gold at the Olympics and we watched in horror as the events of September 11th unfolded.
The friendships we have all developed over time have, in my opinion, been the key ingredient to this owner’s success.
There is a real lesson to be learned here. Even if you’re a Harvard grad you’re nothing without good people. Anyone dealing directly with customers should realize their actions reflect directly on the company’s image. Never assume common sense will dictate how one will deal with a problem.
For fleet owners – drivers are your front line – they can and should be encouraged to build relationships with the various receivers they see on a daily basis.
For dispatchers, I have seen training programs that can teach them how to handle the most delicate problem without upsetting (and worse, losing) that valued customer.
I’m not saying that your people need to be every customer’s best friend (think of Christmas) but when push comes to shove, and given a level playing field, the person with the relationship will get the business 99 per cent of the time.
Another interesting observation was when the competition from one of the larger restaurant chains opened up shop directly across the street.
To be honest, we all made the trek across to the “dark side” just to check it out.
The prices were a little more expensive but not outrageous – and they had two new big screen TVs, a pool table and of course “Golden Tee.”
Perhaps we would have continued going to the “dark side” but when they messed up on our tabs it was all the excuse we needed to go back “home.”
Never underestimate the importance of relationships.
– Rob Wilkins is the publisher of Truck News and he can be reached at 416-442-2097.