A strong cultural connection can be vital in business, especially when it comes to building relationships and establishing trust with partners or clients.
When business owners are looking to engage a vendor for services, there’s usually a pain point or several, that triggers the decision maker to evaluate this area of their business and ultimately find a solution to fill the gap.
Where to start? Most of us will evaluate our budgets, determine what gaps we need to fill, determine a timeline for implementation, and then start the vetting process. As a business owner this can be a tedious process and quite frankly, my least favorite part of the job. However I also know how crucial it is to be part of the vetting process so I make the effort to schedule specific dates/times to focus on this area of my business.
Outside of finding a vendor that can execute and support my business needs, I found that selecting a partner, not just a vendor, that aligns with my business’s cultural values and one that my team and I simply jive with, has lead to longer, more productive and transparent relationships.
For those of us who work the standard 9-5 job, we come home at the end of the day, address any personal matters, then get ready for our traditional Taco Tuesdays or Chicken Florentine Thursdays. Then there are those of us who to take a client to happy hour after work, or stop by the gym before heading home for the day.
My point is we are all human, we all have schedules to adhere to and we come home at the end of the day, chat with our friends, family and in my case sip on a glass or two of my favorite Pinot Noir. In your personal life, odds are you surround yourself with friends that you culturally and socially align with, so why not do the same for your professional sphere?
I can attest that working with partners and clients that share similar cultural and social values has lead to some of my most valued friendships and bar none the most fruitful professional relationships since my wife and I started Vintage IT. In fact, I give out my personal cell phone number to all of our clients. I let them know they can call me at anytime if my team does not follow through with what was promised when we on-boarded the client. I don’t get many calls, so hopefully that means we are doing something right.
As an example, we have a nonprofit client we have worked with since 2008 and we were chatting about our next company team building event and the client insisted that she host our entire team at her lake house located about 45 minutes outside of the Austin area. Vintage hired a caterer for the event and in between meals, our team took turns wakeboarding and waterskiing. Needless to say, we had a fabulous time.
I asked my Director of Sales & Marketing what her superpower was since she is the first touch when it comes to prospecting and working with new partners, and this was her response:
“Understanding People. We don’t do business with computers or robots we do business with people. Something that is the full culmination of all I have learned, worked, and lived through, one that rises to the top of all lessons. The most important thing is people and the most important destination is community. We are the singular thread that can bind all experiences with a higher purpose. We are a valuable treasure on this earth, and we must do all we can to love and respect each other for the very short time we are here.”
This is just one example of how our company’s values transcend to the entire team here at Vintage IT Services.
With that said, how do we ensure we are selecting the appropriate partner that aligns with our business’s cultural values?
How do we select a partner that truly cares about our business and when shit hits the fan (pardon me), will be there to solve the problem and clearly communicate as work is underway?
When asking these questions, it’s essential to listen carefully to their responses and follow up with additional questions if necessary. Here are some tips for how to navigate this:
Be transparent: Start by sharing your own company’s values and beliefs and why they are essential to your business. This can help the vendor understand what’s important to you and how they can align with your values.
Do your research: Before engaging with a vendor, research their company’s values, mission statement, and culture. This can give you an idea of whether their values align with yours and help you tailor your questions accordingly.
Follow up with references: If possible, ask the vendor to provide references from other clients they have worked with. This can give you a better sense of how they operate and whether their values align with yours.
Look for red flags: Be mindful of any red flags or warning signs during your conversations with the vendor. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and keep looking for a vendor/partner whose values align with yours.
In summary, asking the right questions and being transparent about your own values can help you ensure that your vendor/partner’s cultural values align with your business. Do your research, look for red flags before committing to a long-term partnership.