Last week we talked a little about whether we are a partner or a vendor to our customers. It’s important to state that PQC’s culture has always been to partner with our customers and look for ways to make them better. To understand their mission allows us to be quicker to see opportunity and bring it forward for consideration. We strive with every engagement to give that extra “oomph” to our work. We consider it a differentiator to our competitor, and our customers have always appreciated it. With that said, it doesn’t mean we should go rogue on their organization and tell them everything they do wrong. We should be thoughtful and tactful about the recommendations and use planned discussions for making them.
So how do we go from being a vendor to a partner? It starts with mutual respect. There are many people who can claim to do the job. As a partner, over time, we want to become a key resource to our customer. Someone that will come to know as much about their business as they do and be able to make them aware of their blind spots. We want to be able to support them in ways that other vendors can’t.
Out of respect for the expertise of the people you surround yourself with, offer a selfless generosity in your appreciation of their time and schedules. A few things to keep in mind when transforming your vendors into partners include:
- Ask, don’t order. We all have clients who are demanding, and it can be tempting to pass that experience on directly to your partners. However, the more you can slow down and interact in a calm manner, the more everyone has the space they need to execute at a high level.
- Partnerships are collaborations. Whether it’s an inspector or a stager, people want your very best and the knowledge you bring to the engagement. Be respectful and understand that they have a working plan. We are there to help tweak when we see opportunity. If the customer isn’t open to the tweak, we understand. It’s their operation! Being open to their input will help in future recommendations. The more respect and buy-in you give to their mission, the more they may be willing to share. This leads to great relationships, which opens their network and creates opportunities for you.
- Communication is as important as competence. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, the fact that your working styles align can be even more important than the vendor’s reputation. You have to enjoy genuinely working together and must be able to trust that the other person will communicate with you in the style and time frame that works best.
For PQC, turning from a vendor relationship into a partnership has a real effect and creates an energy that is focused on our mutual success. When we’ve been successful in creating this kind of relationship, it brings long-term success to both organizations. We hope that as you move forward through your daily activities, you’ll remember that our customers are always looking for ways to be more effective and proactively avoid mistakes that can be costly and negatively impact their organization. If you see something, please bring it to the attention of our operations managers. They will include you in all discussions as we move forward in helping our customers.
-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO