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Relationships are hard, and I didn’t realize until this year just how hard. And since we are on the cusp of a new year, and new beginnings, I am going to brand this year the “Year of the Relationship”.

Relationships that matter

That sub-head is a bit misleading in that it denotes there are any relationships that don’t matter.

They all do. Every one of them, and I am going to talk about them briefly here.

Personal relationships

This one is the toughest for me as 2011 saw the end of my 17-year marriage. There were a lot of things that went into the dissolution of that relationship, but we still have a six-year-old to care for and that requires the two of us to carry on as proper, respectable parents who care about their kid and want nothing but the best for her.

How’s Yours?

Most people I talk to will tell you their relationship with their significant other is at best…tepid. At worst, someone keeps a bag packed in the trunk just in case.

If you run a business, you are under even more pressure because there is no steady paycheck, and money always always always seems to be at the root of most arguments couples have. And let’s face it, no matter how much we make, there is never enough, especially in these times.

So, go into next year with a renewed interest in keeping your spouse up to date and in the loop as to how the business is going. It may not always be perfect, but knowing is always better than not knowing, cause not knowing breeds resentment.

Having an open-book policy with your spouse will make your life easier, and you just may get along a bit better.

Employee relationships

If you have a team of people working for you, you fall into one of two camps; you either treat them as equals and look to draw the best out of each and hope to see them grow, which will help your business grow, or you treat them as employees, in that they have a job to do and you expect that job done since you are the one writing the checks.

There are pluses and minuses to each way or treating employees, and this isn’t a post on employee motivation, just on how to relate to people in a way that works for you, cause no matter what you do, you are always going to piss someone off, so it has to work for you first.

Just know that even though it is an employer’s market out there, these people who you count on to help build your business have the ability to either work their butts off for you…even when you are not looking, or just muddle through their day getting the job done cause you are giving them a pay check. If you have a team of the formers, you are doing something right, if your team consists of mostly the later, then we need to talk.

Vendor relationships

If you have relationships with vendors you deal with every day, I don’t have to tell you how important these are to keep up. Everything from better pricing to better product availability to preferential treatment are all the trappings of a solid vendor relationship…so work hard to grow these in the coming year!

Finally…customer relationships

Guys and girls, repeat after me, the customer is always right. The customer is always right. The customer is always right. Know how I know? Because companies that put customers first succeed. Wal-Mart, Sam Walton in his day would have thrown himself down in front of a train to get a better deal for his customers, now they do $3 billion in sales in one day. And if you have another way, only until you are knocking down those types of dollars am I even going to consider listening, so keep it to yourself because I am putting my money on that simple yet effect philosophy.

And the customer is always right comes in many forms and fashions depending on your vertical. If you are a painter and they wanted eggshell and it doesn’t look like eggshell, you better make it friggin’ eggshell.

If you build decks and the screws are coming up 6 months from now, get your butt over there and make Mrs. Smith happy. Swallow some pride and take the short-term hit to keep your good name in the marketplace good, cause we have all seen what bad PR can do to companies, and since most of you trade on your own names just like I do, you fight like hell to protect it from all enemies, foreign and domestic!

In the end, it all comes down to relationships

Relationships are living, breathing entities that take on a life of their own. Ever wonder why you get along with someone right off the bat, yet can’t stand another person for no reason at all?

That’s because there is a deep-rooted, fundamental approach we all have inside of us that wants to be liked, needed, loved, understood and respected. And the more of those feelings we can adopt as well as convey to your loved ones, employees, vendors and customers, the better year we will all have!


8 responses to “Relationships”

  1. Lowell Avatar

    I enjoy reading your articles and always try to make your suggestions a part of my methodologies. Thanks for all you contribute. Happy New Year!!

    1. Darren Avatar

      Lowell, Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Have a happy new year.

  2. Christian Spoerl Avatar
    Christian Spoerl

    The best content marketing blog on the net. Solid work Darren – “KP”

    1. Darren Avatar

      Thanks brother!

  3. nick dunse Avatar
    nick dunse

    Could not agree more I tell fellow contractors this all the time. Best annual painting account I ever had was given to me because I was professional, fully insured etc, but would never had a chance at it for not the relationship I had a someone who gave me the referral in confidence. I say it all the time , its all about relationships now more than ever in this dismal economy. Great article as always Darren.

    1. Darren Avatar

      Hey Nick,

      Good to see you! Hope you have a great 2012! Thanks for commenting!

  4. Bridget Willard Avatar
    Bridget Willard

    Good points, as always.

    1. Darren Avatar

      Thank you!