This series we are going deeper into the Social Enterprise Evolve (SEE) solution for our economies. The WINSOME factor is being broken down: W is for Wider Community or World benefit; I is for Inventor and Investor Benefit. This week we see that N is for Network of Customers, Suppliers and Producers’ benefit.
To be successful in business we need to ensure that both the supply and demand sides are catered for. The customers, clients or consumers demonstrate the demand for the product or service. Depending on the product or service there may also be external or internal suppliers and producers on the supply side. For example, take vegetables, often the producers sell to the suppliers who sell to the chains or stores. Even a book or song has inventors / creatives who create the work, who may work with producers or professional finishers of the product (editors, illustrators, graphic designers, sound engineers, etc), who may then work with publishers and/or distributors. For a business to be successful over the long-term, each person / organisation in the chain needs to hold value and be shown respect and value for their part.
One way to ensure that the people in the networks on both the supply and demand sides are happy is to have genuine relationships. Check in on them, ask how their family is. Be interested and listen. Demonstrate value by sharing a gift at Christmas or other special times of the year, in addition to paying on time or even better, early! If we usually pay on time or early it is more likely that in the event of some disruption to payment, they will consider an installment plan if needed during times of cashflow difficulties.
With customers, there are many ways to create customer loyalty such as various types of loyalty programs. Some businesses are easier to establish rapport such as with your local café. Remembering people’s standard order, their names, details of their life, asking them how they are, making them feel valued just for being them, not for what they can give you in terms of turnover. Coffee loyalty cards are one example of what is very popular these days. Other businesses are a bit more of a challenge. For years I was involved with small businesses as clients. A couple of strategies I used multiple times in different places was having a newsletter where we could share news and helpful tips for running a small business as well as showcasing clients so giving free or very low cost promotion / indirect advertising, as well as business networking events. These helped create a feeling of belonging which is so important in small business where there is often not so many places to go for advice on how to do something or even just to relate to others, especially if family and friends have never been in business.
All of us want to love and be loved. In business it is about trusting the person behind the business and feeling a valued customer. If people do not feel valued, they will spend their money elsewhere. I see clients as people who trust you / me to help them provide a need or desire. Sometimes especially for business people who are usually rational thinkers, especially those who have had multiple instances of betrayal in life, it also involves letting our own guards down to allow people in to see more of who we are as people. When we learn to trust and not just be about the task or performing the job to the best of our ability, but valuing the underlying relationship, it is more likely we will all prosper.
Be creative and think of fun ways to demonstrate your appreciation and value for both your supply and demand sides of your business, so your producers, suppliers and customers. Now that is good business!