Building the Shelter of Strong Relationships
By Steve Baie, Southeast Area Manager
When money, services and goods are being exchanged, you’re in a negotiation. Negotiations that don’t treat both parties fairly can build conflicts over time. If you always strive for win/win in your negotiations, you can build long-lasting relationships of trust and friendship that will shelter you through the tough times.
Weathering the Storm
No matter where you live, a natural disaster or emergency situation will force you into “go” mode.
Here in Central Florida we have our share of emergencies. Hurricanes hit every couple of years. When they do, we learn who we can count on. What may have started out as a business relationship can become a strong friendship when you are tested by events.
In the portable sanitation business, a weather-related tragedy is also a business opportunity. If you fail to get your business back on its feet serving customers right away, you can miss out on a lot of good work. One of the first things clean up crews and emergency workers need is sanitation and potable water.
Your Survival Network Plan
Few of us can survive a bad storm without the cooperation of many other people. You need the help of loyal employees. You need good relationships with your customers. You need solid vendor relationships — especially with insurers, bankers and suppliers. And you need friendly relationships with your competitors.
Have a plan in place to get your company mobilized. Be ready to react under any circumstances. A communications plan with your employees is the first step. Know where they are. Make sure their families are safe and that they will be able to work as demands require.
Keep a list of emergency service contacts — customers as well as banks and vendor contacts — to help you get the products you’ll need to respond to all needs. Don’t wait for customers to call you. Be on the spot and be prepared. If you have planned your work and worked your plan, it will show.
Work Your Plan
Strong relationships form the shelter you need to get through tough times. After a storm, I count on my employees to work 16-hour shifts to get restrooms to the companies who need them. I count on customers from areas that weren’t hit by the storm to release equipment to customers who need it in the areas with storm damage.
Roofing contractors and builders count on our industry too. In an emergency, you may suddenly have more work than you can handle. Around here, everyone works cooperatively because we all know that next time it could be our own business that gets smacked down.
While a recession or a downturn in business doesn’t hit all at once like a bad storm, you can still count on the relationships you have built over time to shelter you from the worst of it. When you build relationships and true friendships with employees, customers, vendors and competitors, your business will be able to survive just about anything.
Relationships are Success
It takes communication, time and commitment to develop relationships. I often hear people tell me how they need business “right now” and want to grow overnight. Well, think about growth like farming — you have to till the soil, plant the seeds, provide water and regularly weed out the bad stuff. Only then can you reap the harvest.
When you get in the habit of helping other people and dealing fairly with them, you’ll find that most will want to help you, too. Only after a lot of hard work and persistence do people begin to trust and respect you and want to do business with you.
Every size emergency offers its own unique problems and rewards. Hard work and good communication with all involved is critical. Remember a simple truth: A win-win situation is one that was communicated well and executed properly.
Southeast Area Manager