Whether you are reading this as a technician, a manager, or an operator, this will be a very valuable lesson in your path to success. Today, I will be discussing with you the importance of building relationships.
You will be doing this your entire career, we do not have enough paper or pages to really do it justice. In the history of business, relationships between entities and individuals have shaped the world that we are in. I can say it with one company, and you will all see what I am saying.
Learn from the Best
If you learn the skills of communication and relationship building, you are well on your way to becoming a leader in this industry. To be honest, if you are not trying to be the best in what we do, then why are you doing this anyway?
Technicians do not have much in terms of creating change at higher levels. They will not be the one deciding what products and services that you carry or how your bonus programs are set up.
However, they have the most important job of all in building relationships. They are building them with the customer. That is the most important relationship in this industry. As more and more options pop up for those customers to choose from, you want them to come back to your shop.
If employees treat them professionally, with dignity and honesty, you will have a customer for life. Look at Google and Yelp scores and comments, especially businesses that are failing, and what do you see? Many of them have issues with managers or employees either doing the job right or in how they are treated. They will not return.
Become the Best
When technicians become more talented and move up the ranks into management, they inherit added responsibilities.
They need to build relationships with delivery drivers, parts houses, and local businesses. Do not let them neglect the ones that will end up helping your success the most: your fellow managers.
How many of you have been short of an air filter or an oil filter and called the store closest to you? Before you try to hoard what product that you have for an “if or maybe” sale, soon, think about what will happen when it is your store that needs something.
The one lesson that many managers lose sight of is that the success of the whole is more valuable than the success of one. Think back a paragraph ago to who the most important relationship is with, the customer.
By maintaining those professional relationships, managers are helping maintain the customer relationship as well, even if they are not doing it directly.
For those of us who are in operations or in ownership, building relationships among one another, as well as our vendors, is paramount.
There are some out there that will bounce around like a pinball from one product manufacturer to another based on who is giving the best deal. It is a part of doing business, but what happens when you have run out of options for suppliers, or you try to return to another.
Maybe I look at things differently than some, but I believe that you culture a relationship through loyalty over taking the best deal.
Even when approached by competitors, the relationships that I built with Service Champ, True Brand, EXPone and Ecovolt, for example, are more important to me than getting ten cents cheaper shipping or free signs.
When you help others in their success, you will bear the fruit of that success with more opportunities for your customer. Oh look, there is that word again.
As you can see in my synopsis of how relationships are built and maintained through multiple levels of your business, one thing keeps popping up: the customer.
This is your lifeblood, and no matter what level you are reaching, maintaining that one is paramount to all others.
As a technician, you oversee building that trust with honesty and integrity. As a manager, you are tasked with maintaining the ability to service their needs the first time, every time. As an operator, you are charged with giving your teams the ability to succeed for your customer with quality parts, equipment and more, as well as looking into how those decisions will impact your customer in your facility.
In all these levels, think of what is important to your customer and maintain that foremost, or your competition just might.