Happy 2017! What a difference a year makes, and I, for one, am glad to be moving forward.
One resolution that’s big on my list is furthering my role as the public face of our company. This includes visiting good customers and prospects as well as suppliers, and personally thanking them for their loyalty and support after a tumultuous 2016. When you’re an owner or manager, whether of a small or large shop, your interaction in the business world has impact.
One recent visit was to a local, family-owned power-equipment shop we use for vehicle repairs, equipment parts and tools. The owners, who have known us for 20 years, provide an open account, loan us items in a crunch and provide good service. I asked one of the owners how business was going. He said he’d been trying to get in some hunting and fishing, but it was hard to get away because most customers want to see or talk to him personally. Why? Because as the face of his shop, his authority gets things done. The comment reminded me how similar it is for machine shop owners and managers who have customers and suppliers wanting to interface directly with them. I’m the same way, preferring to contact a company’s owner directly, as it frequently winds up being more efficient.
Being the face of your shop isn’t always easy, but the personal visits make a difference. The past year was challenging for our company, but the personal contacts helped us work out more favorable terms and ensured important relationships remained intact. As such, we got through it when many other shops didn’t.
We had a customer that was very busy—and profitable—when the market was booming. I recall the company’s owners having fancy vehicles lined up in the parking lot. However, while orders were coming in week after week, they rarely visited anyone. When business slowed, so did the amount of work they could afford from our shop. After the company went out of business, one owner told me they shouldn’t have been buying fancy cars and leaving work early, they should’ve been nurturing business relationships instead. I heard his message and it spoke volumes.
Whether negotiating more favorable payment terms with a new customer or working a consignment deal with a material supplier, personal interactions can help your shop survive in lean times and thrive in times of prosperity. Perhaps a fishing trip will be interrupted by a business call, but it goes with the territory of your position. Resolve to make 2017 a year to maximize your positive reputation and further your company’s success.