As business owners we’re always talking about building our business when in reality what we should be talking about building relationships. If we concentrate on building a relationship we don’t just get a customer for one transaction, we get a repeat customer. With each additional transaction there is the opportunity to deepen that relationship and quite possibly over time get referrals from that customer which turn into new customers and the whole relationship building process starts again with the new customer.
I believe the reason that more businesses don’t concentrate on relationship building is because they either don’t know how to do it or feel that it is too time consuming. If done properly relationship building can be an easy process to learn and doesn’t demand much time. Building a relationship with a customer can be as easy as learning the customer’s name and greeting them by name whenever they come into your business.
The best example of building relationships I can think of is my neighborhood grocery store. I’ve live in my neighborhood for over twenty-five years and have been shopping at the same grocery store every week since I moved into my house. On that first visit to the store as I was checking out the cashier was chatting away to me making small talk but also asking questions that forced me to participate in the conversation. Over time these casual chats went from general topics to more personal topics and through the years we’ve learned a lot about each other in my short weekly visits. There have been times that I’ve been unhappy with my grocer but each time that I’ve thought about leaving I change my mind because I feel a loyalty to the grocer and have a comfort knowing that everybody knows me when I enter the store.
While working on my Master degree I took several courses dealing with international business and in these courses there was always a section devoted to cultural differences between countries. I noted that in the United States business people will meet and only briefly make small talk before entering into their business conversation. Business people from countries in South America will meet for coffee and drinks spending hours socializing and drink and just briefly before ending their meeting will talk about business. In such countries the process of doing business is like a courtship with it being more important to like the people you are doing business. For them it is about building a relationship.
I encourage you to consider ways that you can build relationships in your business. For me, I’ve found that LinkedIn and networking events have been good ways to meet new people and both sources have made it easy to build relationships. Entering into 2013 I’ve will continue working with LinkedIn and networking events but I would also concentrate some of my efforts towards building better relationships with my approved vendors. By building relationship I’ve discovered that business seems to be a natural evolve from them.
CEO, Employing Broker
Katchen Company, founded in 1962, is an integrated real estate company with its corporate headquarters inLakewood,Colorado. The company offers real estate development, redevelopment, property management, brokerage, consulting services, construction oversight and maintenance services to individual and institutional real estate investors throughout the greater Denver metropolitan area in Denver with satellite offices in Chicago, Las Vegas and Miami market areas.