In today’s fast-paced technological age, it can be easy to forget what truly drives any secuity business toward success.
Not regular meetings. Not more sales. Not better officers or better training. Not new management systems. Not even great technology (as hard as that is to say).. None of that.
Nope. The secret behind the success of any great business: relationships.
So as a busy security operator, with all of the things on your list of to-dos, how do you find time to create and develop relationships that last? If relationships are really that important, how should you prioritize your time among other pressing issues like hiring, scheduling, business development, and customer service?
Business Relationships 101
In order to really be effective and efficient in creating and building business relationships, keep one golden rule in mind. Business relationships really aren't that different from your personal relationships, after all, they are all human beings (hopefully).
1. Have a Plan
You know how it is. Relationships take work. And if you're not intentional about investing in your relationships, days and weeks will fly by before you know it. Having a plan in place will help you block up the time needed to adequately connect with your prospects and customers.
Take some time to write out how you would like to be followed up with as a customer. Do you prefer getting a "Just Checking In" email? How about a phone call? Or even a letter? Make note of all the touch points in which a customer interacts with your business and do your best to build in a few extra steps to help strengthen the relationship.
2. Provide Your Undivided Attention
As a security operator you juggle millions of roles and positions just to keep the business moving. You do an amazing job and you don't get enough credit. But here's a little secret, your customer doesn't want to know how busy you are or how little time you have for them.
Think about it this way. When you happen to pass by a few friends at the store, you don't go out of your way to tell them how busy you've been hanging out with other friends, right? It's the same in business.
When you make time to talk with your customers and prospects, do your best to give them your undivided attention. Even if it's just for 5 minutes. A little but goes a long way when it comes to relationships.
"Every company in the world knows how their customers are important, yet, as customers, how important do we feel when dealing with these companies? With all the talk about customer service, with all the blather about customer centric companies, making people feel important is still the easiest and cheapest way to differentiate your business from the competition." - Barry Maher
3. Make the Relationship Reciprocal
As a B2B business you have the opportunity to take an interest in your customer's initiatives as well. Take the time to learn about their business and, if possible, reciprocate the business transaction by using their product or service.
Of course, this can be a rare opportunity in the security industry, but you don't have to buy from your customer to take a genuine interest in some of the goals they are pursuing in their business. Take the time to learn what makes them tick and then check in with them periodically.
4. Own Up
No matter how great your management systems, training, or guards are, things are bound to go wrong from time to time. Unfortunately, unhappy customers are part of being in business. No matter how hard you try to get things right, sometimes it's just out of your control.
A critical part of building strong relationships is owning up to failures and mistakes, even if it isn't 100% your fault. A simple apology with help defuse the situation and make room to continue the relationship in the future. Becoming defensive and abrasive will only make things worse.
5. If you build it, they will come
As shocking as it may seem, even with all the social media and gadgets we have to "connect", people are still starved for genuine connection and relationships. Beyond their need for security services is a need for a partner that has their back, someone they can trust. This gives you an opportunity to build more than just a business relationship.
Dan Martell, a serial entrepreneur who has sold 3 multimillion dollar tech companies before age 35, says, "Your network is your net worth".
If you focus on building quality relationships in your community it will act as an insurance policy on your business and career.