Long-term relationships and reputation
You may have long-term “relationships” because of your company’s reputation with people you don’t even know.
I've always been a long-term relationship kind of guy. I still have friends that I went to grade school with. I try to be loyal to long-term vendors and sub-consultants and service providers. And I have had some of the same clients for nearly 28 years.
Sometimes you (or your organization) may have long-term relationships that you aren't aware of and these can either positively or negatively impact your image and reputation. I had one of those cases recently where things worked out well. My other business, Mark Zweig, Inc., is a design-build-development company that does primarily residential but also does some commercial projects.
We recently sold a completely redone and expanded 1919 house in downtown Fayetteville to a couple whose primary residence is in Little Rock but who have had a second home here for several years. They both went to school here at the University of Arkansas back in the day, and they also have children and grandchildren living in the area as well.
So a month or so after these folks moved in, word came to me through my head of operations that the couple really wanted to meet me in person as well as show me the house after they had moved all their stuff in. So we set it up for a Friday afternoon several weeks down the road when they would next be in town.
I knew the buyer's name – Jim McClelland. He is the founder of a prominent local civil engineering and surveying company that bears his name today. When the time arrived for me to stop by the house to meet him and his wife, I was surprised to learn he had been an early and loyal reader of The Zweig Letter for many years – from way back when we first started writing it in the late 80s/early 90s. He and his wife were ecstatic about their new house – they really appreciated all the details and quality we tried to put into it. That he felt he knew me from reading my writings all those years really made it even better.
Sometimes, in business, you have long-term "relationships" with people you don't even know. They may not know your name or face, yet have an affinity for your company because of your reputation or interactions they have had with your firm. Everything you and your people do either enhances that image or detracts from it. You cannot underestimate the importance of having others think positively about you. Anything other than that is going to cause problems for you at some point down the road. Every single relationship has to be nurtured. Every problem with quality or client service or client satisfaction has to be confronted. Anything other than that and you run the risk of bad things being said about you or losing a project you may not even know about.
You never know how what you do and how you treat people will come back to you. It may be a strange and circuitous path but it probably will in some way.
MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is from issue 1139 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here for to get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.
About Zweig Group
Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.