The Sky Floor has existed for over 12 years now. In that time, we have had the chance to work with businesses of all sizes and structures. There has been one constant with our longest-lasting, ride-or-die client relationships: our favorite clients treat us like we are part of the team.
Now I am not talking about benefits or company parties. But there is a distinct difference when a client includes us with their full-time staff in language and participation. We are more likely to go to bat for clients that exude this inclusion. We take ownership and responsibility for project outcomes in a new way.
You can tell when this shift happens in your vendors. They move from referring to your company as its proper noun or in the third person to the personal possessive. “Acme has had success doing this in the past” becomes “We have had success…”.
You want your vendors to feel this level of connection to your work. It produces better results and inherently personalizes the output. You want your entire team, internal and external, to go to bat for your success.
Here are some tips on how you can foster this kind of relationship with your vendors:
- Get personal. There is nothing wrong with getting to know each other in a professional relationship. Ask questions that lead to understanding the people you have hired. Leave extra time for conversation and a bit of fun.
- Be inclusive. Don’t just dictate what you want accomplished; include your vendors in the thought process. Ask for feedback and collaborate.
- Reward them. Not like you tip your waiter at a restaurant, but a little extra gift card or note for a job well done will increase their feeling of being part of your team.
- Bonus: Company Parties. I know I said I wasn’t talking about company parties earlier in this post, but we have been invited to a few over the years, and nothing quite says “you are a part of our team” like this. No pressure. It is a big deal, but if your vendor is a truly integral part of your business, consider inviting them to a company get-together.
If you can’t imagine including your essential vendors in this way, evaluate why you want to work with them anyway.