I learned a long time ago that our success was as much dependent upon my service providers as it was our customers. Imagine having a truck loaded with office furniture getting a flat tire at 10 o’clock at night 30 miles from your base. Then imagine how great it would feel knowing you have a stellar relationship with a tire company that’s on call and provides road service 24/7? In the course of my business, we had situations arise after normal business hours, and I thanked God every time that we had solid relationships with vendors who came to our rescue without hesitation. That’s when you know why it’s important to treat your vendors just like your customers.
I learned this lesson early on from a V.I.P. customer of ours—John Portman & Associates. In the 1970s, Portman developed the internationally famous landmark in downtown Atlanta called Peachtree Center. Whenever they leased office space in their complex or needed to move a tenant from one building to another, they gave us the moving contract. It was my contact in their office, Dara Nicholson, who taught me how to treat service providers. She did it by example: she treated ME as a valued customer instead of nothing more than a vendor.
She always acknowledged that they were not our only customer but did her best to accommodate OUR schedule if we weren’t available on a specific date. Can you imagine? If we ever had a service failure, she told us in a calm and factual way without ruining our relationship. She never yelled or threatened us; she was polite and professional. Her treatment brought the very best out in us; it made us always try harder to render the very best service possible. Her attitude was certainly not the norm at the time, and we rarely see it even today. It was a powerful lesson that stuck with me, and I committed to paying it forward (before that term was even a ‘thing’…).
On top of everything else, John Portman & Associates always paid their bills in a timely manner. (There were times that I fantasized about sending some of our other customers to them for training.)
From our treatment by this V.I.P. client, I learned how to bring the very best out in our service providers. I nurture our relationships by:
- Paying them immediately—upon receipt of invoice
- Clearly defining what my (ever-changing) needs are
- Never threatening or yelling at them—I’m polite and professional
- Treating them with respect and integrity
- Telling them how much I appreciate their service (I really do!)
- Giving them realistic deadlines knowing that I’m not their only customer
If you follow my business model and treat your vendors like your most valued customers, I’ll bet you’ll bring the best out in them and receive superior service.
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For more information on our online office moving training, please visit
www.officemoves.com/training/index.html or call Ed Katz at 404.358.2172.