The Most Valuable Commodity – Relationships

During a conference call today I was telling someone a true story that happened to me a few years ago that got me to thinking; first let me share that story with you.  I had a partner that I had brought into my company that was young, inexperienced, but I thought I saw something in him that could be molded into a great business partner, I was wrong.  I know, hard to believe, me wrong, but yep, it does happen from time to time.  So anyway, this new partner didn’t bring in any new business; all of the clients were pre-existing and had relationships with me personally.  So that being said, after a while this new partner of mine having learned how things worked, decided that his portion of the profits of the business that already existed prior to his arrival, well that wasn’t enough, so he started contacting the clients and offering them a much better, less expensive deal, one where he wouldn’t have to share the profits with anyone else.  

Now you would think that if he contacted ten clients that at least one or two would have gone with him especially since he was offering them a substantial savings with this deal of his.  Boy was he wrong.  Every single client that he contacted called me.  Now ask yourself why would they do that?  I mean after all this is just business, and if they can save 25 or 30% on a service why wouldn’t they take advantage of that?  The answer is many would, but in this case they didn’t because they were not buying that service, they were buying me.  Huh?   You heard me… they were buying me… Sure they could have taken him up on that deal and saved money, for sure.  But they could have probably done that at any point had they really wanted to, I never claimed to be the cheapest deal in town…

Let me break it down for you, there are very few if any products or services that are really unique; it is very likely that you have competition selling the same identical product or the very same service that you are selling… So how to compete?… Differentiation is how; making your product or service different that the competitions even when it’s not.  In my case I have always used myself to this; I have made myself the key to the deal.  I create relationships, and those that I do business with, they know I can be trusted, they know I am going to take care of them; they know it’s not just about the money with me.  So what does that do?  It creates loyalty… and soon it’s not about the money with them either.  So when my partner tried to back door me with these clients, it was the fact that we had a relationship that made them call me.  It was the fact they knew they could trust me, that I would always look out for their best interest and that money and profit was not my only driver.  I created loyalty.  I believe this is what most people are looking for.  When you go to a restaurant and go out of your way to sit in a certain waitresses section, or drive to a bank branch that is two three miles away, even though there is another branch a mile closer, just to deal with a specific banker.  Relationships… That is a commodity that is more valuable than gold, it cannot be reproduced, it cannot be brokered, it cannot be manipulated; it is unique and it is special and it is what keeps many people coming back.  Creating relationships will always trump product in my opinion.  I remember once the bank manager at the bank my company did business at was leaving the bank to take a higher paying job at another bank.  I went with her, meaning I moved all of our accounts to the new bank where she went.  People thought I was nuts, why would I do that?  Because I had a relationship with this manager, I trusted her, she had taken good care of me and my business over the years and I did not want to lose that, so I went with her.  Again, relationships are everything.