I was going to chat about lessons I learned from a movie I recently saw, but in chatting with my wife this evening, I came to a realization that there was a much more relevant topic to speak on this evening from a personal perspective.
It is an expression that you will hear from many people, that “Business is about Relationships.”
It is actually alarming how often then, that companies take this for granted. The most important relationship in many ways is the customer. The goodwill built with an existing customer makes increases the chance of repeat business in a massive way. Trying to win new customers or get clients to return after a bad experience is extremely costly and difficult.
The relationship with the customer is built by sales teams and after sales teams. It is also established and maintained by your actual product to the consumer.
There is a saying that “you are only as good as your last sale”. Think on that. I am in an environment where that often seems to be the case.
Example of Sam
From a consumer perspective, I have had a great experience with customer sales and service recently.
My family, due unforeseen circumstances, have had to return back home to South Africa while I continue to work in Nigeria. Since we had sold our car back home before we moved to Nigeria for my current employment, it became necessary to purchase a used car again.
With the help of my dad, we found a good clean car that was still in our budget. The car is a little Kia which seem to be extremely resilient given what I have seen of them here in Nigeria, but the dealership is a Honda dealership about 30km from where my family currently live. I was a little worried about what the experience would be like, after all, I am buying this car from Nigeria with only my dad seeing.
The salesman, a great guy by the name of Sam, has continued over the past few months, to go above and beyond with this car. It has had an ongoing niggle with the electric windows and on a few occasions has gone back to them while waiting for parts to come to resolve the problems.
Each time, they send a loan car, drive it out to the family 30km away and pick up our car and do it all over again. Again, for the price we paid for this car, I really did not expect this service.
I have yet to meet Sam in person, but I know that between him and this Honda dealership, I will certainly get my upgraded car from them. I am sold on them and not the car we got, and it was not even the brand they regularly deal in.
I have gotten a little sidetracked. The point of the discussion I had with my wife is that your personal network and the quality of those relationships is extremely important in your work life, be that as an entrepreneur or an employee.
As a teen, I walked into a little camera repair center and asked if they would teach me how to repair cameras – didn’t ask for pay though they offered a nominal fee per camera which fed my photography habit. (I must add that my mom helped me get the courage to go ask them to teach me at that young age.)
The owner of that business spoke highly of me to the owner of my favourite camera store in Johannesburg which got me a part-time position working there. That workplace connected me to many industry people which helped me in both the companies I co-founded in the future.
After serving a two-year, volunteer service mission for my church, I applied to a few jobs. I got one with a startup company as a salesman and later the sale manager. That is to date at least, the only job that did not have some link to someone I know or was part of my network.
This is a critical point, and I think many people will find the same is true for them, that their best chances for change and/or success come through people they know.
Business is about people and the relationships you keep with them.
Lastly, there are some relationships that I would hope we never take for granted in the search for our business relationships and that is family.
Those who have worked away from their family for periods of time I think will mostly agree, it can be extremely lonely. That said, I see people all the time who may as well be away from their families they immerse themselves so much in their work and networking. There is always a cost to every choice we make. Try to better understand those costs and make the more right choices more often.
(Catch up on last weeks ‘Work Wednesday’ podcast here.)