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RAB Research Archive

Relationships Matter Most (Part I)

Dennis owns a vehicle repair shop, and he attended one of our branding seminars many years ago. As is still the case when our seminars are complete, we invite attendees to a private workshop with our team to talk about strategy and implementation. Dennis took advantage of that workshop.

We talked about competition, and we talked about what made Dennis different from other car repair facilities. We asked why Dennis got into the business in the first place (one of my favorite strategy questions with new clients).

Following the session, we met with Dennis to share our plan, our strategy and how we would identify his point of differentiation. The dramatization of that point would happen through storytelling… a campaign of commercials that positioned Dennis’ shop as, “the perfect alternative to those high-priced dealerships or those greasy grimy repair shops.”

Dennis loved the strategy, and the investment level, while a stretch, was appropriate. Then, the magic happened. After the meeting, we told Dennis, “There are a lot of great places to invest your advertising dollars. We hope that you have confidence and faith in our strategy and how we want to execute it, but you need to be completely comfortable.” We told Dennis that we were not interested in closing a sale, but instead, starting a business relationship.

The strategy was solid, the execution was strong, but what “sold” him (as we found out later) is that we told Dennis to take his time and make sure the decision was right for him.

Dennis later explained that any company that would do all the work and at the end of the process not try to hard sell, but instead demonstrate that the relationship was important, was the company with which he wanted to work.

The most important and often overlooked quality at the foundation of every relationship is caring. You must care about the people with which you build relationships. Equal to the component of caring is the spirit of giving. Successful relationships are not successful because of what you get out of them; they are successful because of what you put into them.

We demonstrated to Dennis that we cared about him as a person, and we cared about his business. Dennis is a good client. His business has grown, and the business has faced challenges. Because of the strength of the relationship we have with Dennis, he is still doing business with the same rep, more than 17 years later.

Tomorrow, we’ll give you part two of relationships with some tips and questions to ask to determine the strength of your client relationships and some guidance on how to make them even stronger.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB