Should you think ‘supplier satisfaction’ as well as ‘customer satisfaction’ in your marketing?

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Robert Wright has posted a powerful — and intriguing — observation in his consumer-focused  blog: Home Renovation Guide Contractors are people too:  Why being nice to a contractor can be a sanity saver!

In it, he advocates that consumers who show some respect for the contractor and employees at their homes will reap the rewards of the golden rule:  Extra service, attention, and care — simply because the joy of working with clients who are pleasant and create a positive working environment is such a treat.

Treating the work crew on site well, can be very beneficial to you. My guys are always happy when our clients have a morning coffee or cookies ready for them at break time. They always comment about how nice the client is. As a result, I know the guys will do small things for the client that I will not know about and/or charge for. The site crew will also take more time to make sure things are perfect; instead of trying to get the job done and get out of your home quickly.

Interestingly, one of the first comments blasted Wright for suggesting that clients could do something to make the experience great.

Robert,

I simply can’t believe my eyes as I read this. You are the reason why we get so pissed off at contractors.

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN WHO THE CUSTOMER IS?

So you want your CUSTOMERS to make things as easy as possible for you? Gee, we’re sooo sorry that there might be a distraction while we meet with you, or that our questions for you are worded in away that may offend, or that your damn cookies and coffee aren’t to spec.

The construction/renovation industry has had a free ride for too long in Canada. It leads to these arrogant, self-centred blog posts from people who think their paying customers should be treating them better.

Here’s an idea: treat people the way you’d like to be treated and that’s what you get in return. As well as a paycheck.

Steve

Of course, Steve has a point.  Clearly the contractor receiving the money has an obligation and responsibility to treat clients with respect and I certainly go out of my way in my Construction Marketing Ideas book to suggest that you focus on making the client experience great; far more than you worry about how much you spend on your advertising.

But the Golden Rule works both ways in the supply chain and since suppliers get banged on by clients who know they can get away with sometimes abusive behaviour, you should realize the payback of treating your suppliers well can be incredibly profitable because your approach will go against the grain.

Again, your respect for suppliers can be simple things:

  • If you are having trouble paying your bills on schedule, communicate forthrightly and respectfully the situation and reason, and stick by your promises.  (If you have the cash of course, pay them on schedule, without question.)
  • Provide referrals and business connections which may be helpful for them:  References to relevant trade groups, information sources, and marketing ideas
  • Explore co-operative marketing opportunities where you can help them flow their products/services through to your end-clients.  (You may end up receiving some co-op or in-kind compensation.)
  • Share small gifts, courtesies and resources (not big stuff, the goal is not to get in the ‘kickback’ space).  If you have relevant client-focused gifts and rewards, in some cases, share these with your suppliers.

Wright’s point is simple: Look at your suppliers and treat them within the Golden Rule as you would your clients — and you may find rewards that far exceed your extra cost and effort.

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