I was thinking about boating today. It’s springtime, finally. The days are warming up and calling my flowers right out of the ground. The birds we feed all year long are busy, busy, busy making nests and sitting eggs. Our fields are alive with young bunnies, squirrels, lizards and all number of reproducing critters. And as we start to think ahead about a new season at the mountain cabin, Tom will soon be getting his fishing boat tuned up and ready for summer and I hope a cooler full of fresh rainbow trout.
If you’ve ever ridden in a boat, you know that, as it skims through the water, it leaves a wake behind it which is much wider than the boat itself. And, so do we. I don’t think we can even fathom how wide of a wake we leave behind us in the world as we go about our daily lives and work. Every time we speak to, serve, care for, ignore, fight with, appreciate, assist, support or do business with someone, we make an impact which in turn has a ripple effect on what they then do and create. Sometimes we forget that how we treat everyone makes a difference. And one group we often misjudge are the vendors who support our businesses and our work.
This week, we’ll examine the Container Store’s third “Foundation Principle”: Fill the other guy’s basket to the brim. Making money then becomes an easy proposition. It’s the golden rule, really.
It’s been said that the way you do anything is the way you do everything. As a vendor to many healthcare, veterinary, and dental practices over the years as well as speakers, trainers, meeting planners, and corporate executives and work teams, I’ve had mostly good experiences with how well I have been treated, but on a few occasions I’ve been sadly surprised. I’ve also witnessed other vendors being mistreated, ignored, or disregarded or worse, expected to make unrealistic exceptions or “deals.” How we were treated certainly made an impression and had an impact on our feeling about the value exchange between us. It mattered if someone asked us if we knew a dentist or a vet in that city. It mattered when we were given tickets to the ballgame for a few select clients or a few special VIP invitations to an elite event. It mattered when the client asked us for a favor such as a little more time to pay an invoice or an exception to a cancellation policy. You leave a wake with your actions and words, and it matters.
Your vendors can be a tremendous source of information and referrals. They live in your community too. They work in the same industry. They go the extra mile for those clients that they have the best relationships with and who have cared for them as much as the vendor has helped the business. We all have our favorite clients, and it’s usually because we’ve developed a high level of trust and a mutually satisfying relationship where both of us benefit from our exchange.
If you doubt how this can really be done in business, take a minute to watch this video of a vendor that The Container Store team interviewed about the mutual quality of their relationship.
Be sure this week that you know how your teammates are treating, interacting, and communicating with your vendors. Treat all your vendor relationships with the same respect and appreciation as you would a client or an employee. Be certain they always feel your appreciation for their contribution to your business and your work and know how much you value their input, trust and loyalty to your success.
The golden rule of business works… because you never know where your next referral, industry information, or baseball tickets are coming from. Create a wide wake of kindness and thoughtfulness that everyone you do business with will feel. Treat everyone as you would want to be treated and watch how much you reap in return.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
~~ Mark Twain