The recent lockdown has really reinforced the importance of good client and supplier relationships to the construction industry. Turning information around, working in conditions where health is at risk and needing to work as a team to find a solution (and quickly), is all made so much easier when you're working with people that you can rely on.
And when things get tough, the hard situations are made easier when you've got good communication and trust. In an industry like construction, where we each rely on the other to do their part, our success is often down to the relationships we build and nurture.
Building and maintaining relationships can be very rewarding and beneficial to all involved. A good working relationship allows a person or company to demonstrate professionalism, credibility, and trustworthy qualities. In turn, this experience will influence the reputation passed on from both customers and suppliers.
A positive reputation will encourage word of mouth referrals – the best type of marketing a company can have!
It's not something we commonly talk about in our industry, but relationship building isn't just for after-work drinks and BBQs. To get you started, here are 5 steps that I believe can help anyone start, manage and nurture a professional relationship:
Maintaining relationships is just as important as the initial building of the relationship. Trust is something that needs to be fostered. Keeping in contact, even a more casual than work focused contact, with these clients in between projects will increase the likelihood of more work coming your way and is the most cost-effective form of marketing.
Schedule contact to prompt a call or email where appropriate, offering opportunities for social interaction. Again, ensure to record interactions, this can be referred back to in future communications.
Above all, ongoing communication ensures there are no surprises for the client. It is here that the value of trust comes into it. Where a strong relationship exists, the customer is less likely to push blame and more likely to work positively to find a resolution.
It can take time to build these relationships and certainly required maintenance however it can be a cost-effective process that can massively contribute to efficiency. Misunderstandings cost time and money, a good relationship can often be quicker and easier to provide solutions.
Great customer service is contagious. You may have the perfect product or service but unless you nurture the relationship and provide good and honest service it can lead to a shallow relationship and may not encourage the loyalty to grow. Hearing positive reviews and referrals are a sure sign that you are delivering the whole package.
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Stay safe out there NZ!