Repeatedly, we hear, "it's all about relationships" and, yes, they are important. A strong relationship will save a project that is going south. It will help you get in the door for the second or third project. It makes a project easier to complete and more enjoyable to celebrate at the end of the day. So, how does your firm handle relationships?
From observation in the AEC industry over 30+ years, here is my perspective on relationships:
Many firms tout their "repeat client" percentage and we all know it's easier to keep a client than get a client. Yet, if relationships are hard to start, easy to maintain, and hard to re-start, why are more dollars and focus put into new business development than into existing and recent past client relations? Wouldn't a firm want a sufficient financial yield from current and recent past clients so that piles of money are no longer needed to initiate and build new relationships for new work? Maybe it's time to put a greater amount of your BD budget into keeping the good relationships you already have. It sure would be easier and a lot less stressful!
What's does your "best relationship" in business look like? Here's my definition of a great relationship, from the client's viewpoint:
Do you see anything in there that says, "big gifts or expensive outings?" No. Just as employees give, as one of their top reasons for leaving a firm, "it's the way I was treated." It's the same thing with the client – consultant relationship. It's the way they are treated.
We all want to be treated special! We're at all different levels and experiences in this world and we're all doing our best. We all need a pat-on-the-back from somewhere. And, the person who gives that pat-on-the-back is the one who will be remembered. Keep Maya Angelou's well-recognized quote in the back of your mind:
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Take the month of March and make it your firm's time to make sure your clients feel like a big dog!!
If you're looking to develop a client relations program, let me know. email@example.com
Friday Chow is posted weekly, or thereabouts, to provide you with insights and considerations for AEC sales and marketing. Good stuff to feed your revenue engine!
When you're ready to improve your business development, marketing, and client relations programs, contact Red Hound Studios at firstname.lastname@example.org