Regardless of role, relationships must be seamless

Jan. 1, 2020
Business, like our personal lives, is all about building and maintaining relationships.

Business, like our personal lives, is all about building and maintaining relationships. And relationships are all about how people fit together. On one side, they are about wants, needs and expectations, and on the other, they are about one’s need or desire to serve: to meet or exceed those wants, needs and expectations of their counterpart.

Successful from the outside looking in, you are likely to find few relationships that are equal. There will almost certainly be uneven measures of commitment, responsibility, expectations and demands. That is because few “partners” — be they personal or business — have wants, needs and expectations that are perfectly matched. Invariably, there will be one party with an abundance of wants and expectations to satisfy and another filled with a greater desire to serve or fulfill them. And that’s OK as long as the relationship works for both parties.

In most personal relationships, the involved parties can be divided into two distinct categories: “lovers” and those who are “beloved.” Lovers are identified by their need or willingness to satisfy and serve, and those who are beloved can be defined by their desire to have their own wants, needs and expectations served, be they real or contrived.

Business relationships between people can be just as unequal in their distribution of responsibility, commitment, expectations and demands as any personal relationship can be, and while you wouldn’t necessarily describe jobbers as “lovers” or service dealers as their “beloved” without a snicker, you would be foolish not to realize how easy it would be to categorize both groups that way.    

As a student of this industry, I can tell you that the desperate conditions faced by most service dealers today — rising costs, changing technologies, manpower shortages and management paradigms that no longer work — leave them desperate for a relationship or partnership with anyone sensitive to these distinctly challenging wants, needs and expectations.

I would also suggest that warehouse and jobber operations with a genuine desire to serve — recognizing not only what they must do to ensure their relationships survive, but what is necessary for them to succeed — are more likely to see their relationships endure than those who do not.

When these relationships are successful, the result is always an almost perfect, almost seamless fit. No unexpected bumps or ruts. No unseen boils or blemishes. No hidden agendas. And no surprises.

When they aren’t this way, the results can be irreversible and devastating for everyone involved.

Think about the many relationships you share with your service dealer customers. Do you see yourself as the “lover” or “beloved?” To be successful today, new levels of trust and intimacy will be required. And, for a relationship as critical as the one shared with your clients and customers, that may mean a new look at your roles and responsibilities in this most personal of all relationships.

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