Monday, February 8, 2016

Do You Value Partnerships?

Every business has partners.    They could be an advertising firm, a public relations firm, a graphic designer, a payroll service and many more.   If you buy and sell products you probably have a manufacturing partner or a raw materials partner.

How do you view those relationships? Are they integral to your business?  Can you trust them?  Would they go out on a limb for you when you need it?

We take all our relationships very seriously.  Our partnerships include manufacturers and clients.  We pride ourselves on our service and on the relationships we build with our clients.  Are we perfect?  No.  But we work hard to build those relationships and we are very loyal.  Many of our partners have been with us for over 25 years.  I believe that speaks to the way we value and work partnerships.

Sometimes, though, things can really strain those relationships.

So many people underestimate the value of good partnerships.  I will give you two examples.

1.  We have been working on a project and bid on a new 10 x 10 booth for a local company.  We are leading with a product from one of our manufacturing partners.  We have spent hours in meetings, designing and pricing the structure.  We got a call from our partner saying that another of his distributor's was requesting a price on the same project.   This provider is actually on the East coast and not local to the customer.  (That is a story for another post on another day). The customer has also been a customer of ours for many years.  Our manufacturing partner made it very clear that they frowned on bidding wars between their distributors.  He wanted open communication and said, he would be sure that they bid their project and full retail and didn't try to undercut us on price.

I sincerely appreciate this attitude and it shows that they truly value their relationship with their distributors.

2.  On another project we ordered samples, multiple meetings, conference calls and quoted another project for a large trade show booth.

We got the courtesy call from this partner months after we had started working on this deal.  He said that a local competitor of ours was asking for a quote on the exact same project we had been negotiating and working for months.  Our manufacturing partner sent them out a quote for the same project.  If had to guess, it was very little work to change the name on the quote to us to the name of our competitor.

This manufacturing partner was here in our showroom just a few weeks before this, telling us the competitor XYZ (also local here) did very little business with them and that we were a much more active distributor.  As you walk through our showroom there are multiple samples and examples of their products in our showroom.  We bid their products on almost every single deal we quote.  We do not buy similar products from any other competitor.

Our competitor low bid the price (below retail) and got the business.  I expressed my frustration to our mutual manufacturing partner that they did not seem to value our relationship very much, if they just shot the numbers over to a competitor.  I got no response from them.  I know it is just business.  I am not taking it personally, but it think it speaks VOLUMES about their appreciation of our business and our partnership.  I guess it was a win/win for them and a lose/lose for us.

Excellence in customer service?  Is it possible?  Care for your partners and they will stay loyal.  What happens when your bottom line is more important than a long partnership?

What would you do?  What do you think?

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