How Acts of Kindness Can Grow Your Bottom Line
Lucky am I to have had a grandfather who instilled in me so many great lessons. I hear his wisdom daily through the memories I hold of him which follow me everywhere I go.
Yet one of his most basic and simple teaching has become a core essence. I’ve instilled it in my business and it has stayed with me throughout the years.
It’s The Golden Rule.
Treat people as you would like to be treated or better known, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
What does that actually look like to a business owner? I ask that question because business has operated on the basis of competition; and with competition there is only a winner and a loser. How many of us throughout the years have known what it’s like to be taken advantage of while doing business? Merely to hear, “Don’t take it personally, it’s only business.” It’s difficult not to become hardened and cynical, obstructing the view of a better future when confronted with such attitude. But I find everything in life is a choice and in this case it’s no different.
We have the choice to not react. To shrug our shoulders and know, in the long run, it’s they who lose. So instead of constantly viewing reruns of all the employers who filed faulty workmanship comp claims that contributed to higher rates; former business partners who stole your clients for their own company; operation managers who extorted money from you – let them all go. They are just stories now. Getting all wound up is a waste of valuable energy that should be put to creative, productive and invincible moments to give your business and your life.
You see, it’s much more powerful to leave emotional attachment to what happened in the past, in the past, and run your future without them. Instead focus on constructing a powerful business with cooperation instead of competition.
Here are some simple helpful tips on how to build trust in others and have others trust you. Understand competition might fuel the fires for bigger and better, but cooperation is the true binding that brings the best long-term goals to fruition.
Surround yourself with professional and trusting people. Remember the Golden Rule. Take the time to seek out professionals, associates, and team members that align with your positive way of thinking and doing business. Trust can be a difficult strategy to develop in a business, but once established, work hard to maintain it and never loose it. Infuse it in everything you do. Once trust has been given and received, be respectful of its bond with mindfulness and vigilance.
Always be kind and respectful. My design consultant, Susi Tomich, has a slight twist to a common saying when dealing with a difficult vendor, “You always get more from bees with honey than with vinegar.” There is a lot of truth to that statement. Not that we want to be pushovers and find ourselves constantly feeling the fool when exploited. I admit, it’s a fine line for all of us in business. But be firm, make sure your expectations are met and be appreciative.
Meet everyone’s expectations with your own high expectations. Business is about people, not things. Form partnerships with your clients, employees, vendors and associates by being the best you can be. Treat others as you want to be treated. And always smile.
Clients. On every consultation, give them a gift with your company name on it. My friend and associate, Scott Barron from Botanical Designs, shared that with me years ago that “desk furniture” is a great way to remember you after your gone. It leaves an impression and opens a doorway to creating and maintaining connections with people. Also, a hand-written thank you note to send to your clients speaks volumes and never looses its touch. For the newer techie generation of clients such as the Millennials, Gen Next and the upcoming Generation Z, you might make it an email instead, thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. After installation is complete, a nice thank you gift is presented – we like to send a nice basket of cookies with a nice hand written card – which rounds out your client’s experience. And finally, send an install survey for your client to fill out to make sure everything is complete and they are happy with the results. This is the best time to ask for a referral, snap a pic of your happy clients for social media and start suggesting additions to the areas they missed. Many times I make a personal visit to thank them.
Vendors. Let’s face it, without our wonderful partners in business – our hard working vendors – we would not be able to do the work we do. Yes they make mistakes, but we all do. It’s about teamwork. Pay them on time and follow the terms of agreement. Don’t ever put them aside or forget about them. Remember how much we like to be acknowledged as a vendor to our clients. Do the same. Send letters periodically thanking them for their services. Holiday gifts are not just for clients. Be sure to include your vendors. Send lunch to the greenhouse you buy from all year. Send gift cards to delivery people that delivery your jobs on time for you. A $10.00 subway gift card goes along way. And sometimes all that is needed is a simple “thank you.”
Employees and team members. Employees can be a challenge but are your greatest resource. We all know we would be nowhere without the amazing team members we interact with on a daily basis. I have found over the last few years that having a collaborative team with great, I mean great management team members, can be very powerful. Aligning together in a common goal is so much more productive and powerful than the “I” approach to running your company. Come from a space of understanding. The average full time American worker spends more time at work than at home. Create a great space that gives them a livable and enjoyable place to be. Provide healthy snacks and drinks. We have a refrigerator stocked with all the necessities for our team. Proper nourishment can make such a difference for employees. It’s the good old pat on the back and lunch from the supervisor that creates lasting bonds at the workplace. Let them know about a great comment you received from a client; provide summer employee and family picnics; have fun with them at a holiday staff party. Always keep the communication flowing between management and co-workers as well as all employees in general, with regular staff meetings and yearly reviews. These are all just minimal investments needed to motivate them into more productivity during the work day. Happy employees are the means to a successful company.
Featured image by Jennifer
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