I was chatting with a friend of mine today and, without disclosing the entirety of our conversation, I felt the topic was worth a blog. The theme was very loosely based around the lines of ‘client loyalty’.
So the story starts – friend ‘A’ has given a friend some business (lets call them project X), quite a lot of business actually, over the past couple of years and to date as been pretty pleased with the service that they have received. Now that A’s company is expanding there is more product development work available within a different area and A’s business partner would like to give this new opportunity to another contact that they know. As you can imagine this has resulted in all sorts of upset and a fair degree of anxiety for A. On top of which Project X are feeling a little betrayed and don’t seem to understand why they haven’t been picked to do this new project – to the detriment in fact of their existing relationship as it appears that they are experiencing a temporary lack of ‘enthusiasm’ for the ongoing project already in existence. Foolish if you ask me.
This, for me, has provoked a whole host of feelings – as a business owner having made it through the recession so far I can fully understand the upset that Project X is feeling, but from where I’m standing I think that project X needs to take a little bit of responsibility for their own actions. Perhaps its time they realised that there are a lot of people out there at the moment all fighting for the same business, in fact competition is rife. It’s a time where client retention is important and that you have to prove yourself and your abilities over and over and over again. Today’s business is about ‘building’ relationships, ‘earning’ trust and going that extra mile. I know this first hand, it’s what we are doing on a daily basis at the moment, negotiating, showing that we care and that we really do value our clients and go that extra mile. What we don’t do is ever ‘assume’ that our business is safe or that our clients are that for the long term – of course long term is what we are striving to achieve but life just aint like that.
I say invest in your client relationships and work hard, but you know what, sometimes you have to keep your options open – it’s a dog eat dog world out there. And as for Project X – my advice is pull your socks up and stop thinking that you’re owed anything – value the business you already have and then if you’re really lucky you might manage to retain your clients….