As discussed in the last issue, it is vital to ask, ask, ask to find the best and most appropriate resources and service providers to ensure your business success. But, getting the resources and providers is only half the equation, it is building the relationships that really matters now. How do you create a long term business connection? There are just five essentials:
* Craft a Letter of Engagement – This clearly states the terms of how you want to do business, including anticipated lead times for goods and services, professional behavior on both sides, an agreement to the number of changes accepted without additional fees, and payment terms and method.
* Stay in Touch – Even during slow times, I make an effort to stay in touch with regular vendors and service providers. Keeping in contact means that they will be ready to step in and be of service when you need it, rather than reopening the relationship after a long hiatus.
* Demonstrate Thank You – This is more than just a verbal thank you, but means that you send a note or email for a job well done. In some cases a gift of thanks is appropriate. I know that during my busy season, I keep my workroom supplied with random pizza and occasional flowers, and when it really gets tough, I send in Godiva chocolates! This helps my projects to get to the top of the heap when I need a rush job done.
* Pay promptly – Just because your clients might keep you waiting for your invoices doesn’t mean you can keep your suppliers waiting for theirs. When you have a history of paying on time or even early you can garner extra time in the event of a cash crunch, or qualify for discounts on invoices.
* Refer, Refer, Refer – When you are pleased with a service or product refer it to business associates as a valued resource. Feature them in your newsletter or ezine. Or perhaps you want to provide a link to them on your website and if appropriate ask for a reciprocal link.