I would like to talk a bit about the importance of “Strategic Relationships” as they relate to todays Collision Repair facility. Reckognizing what they are, maintaining those you have, forging future ones and becoming desirable to those that are looking for them with you. Having clear control in this element of business could bring improvement to the repairer and his or her vendor and Insurance partner interactions.
There is a clear key to creating and commanding these relationships that is within a facility’s control. First let’s look at what a “Strategic Relationship” means:
Strategic Relationships are the working relationships you have with individuals and across organizations that are integral and vital to achieving long-term business and professional goals !
The management of these relationships rely on your ability to jointly and proactively define, build, maintain, and leverage these “Strategic Relationships” so that your business outcomes are optimized !
For many years I had maintained the “Strategic Relationships” on behalf of my Insurance company employer with you, the Collision Repair facility. These were and are critical to the delivery of their promise to our mutual customers. I was very successful managing respectful interactions that led to win-win results. It can be done through open communication !
Applying this understanding, as the leader of your company, to a given day in your life these relationships are found in handshake agreements, the contract you enter into with the rubbish collector, the landscaper, the I.T. company you have retained, your database vendor, paint supplier etc. They are present in the dealings you have with Insurance partners, with any private company you do work for, schools, police or fire departments, rental companies, and even the relationships you have with employees. These relationships are vital to the work you do with those that manage your finances, handle your legal representation, put out your marketing efforts, and of course your individual customers. In all of these relationships you are communicating to negotiate benefit to you. These communications should all be strategic – “I give you this and I get this, it’s a deal”. Extremely Powerful !!
Now some relationships are more strategic than others of course but all of them require your full attention and engagement (the key). They also require the delivery of what is expected based upon the specific relationship objectives.
As a customer yourself you expect the delivery of what you pay for to be seamless, professional and predictable based upon what you are told..right ? If not would it be fair to say that you may reconsider your buy and likely to shop elsewhere in the future ? And rightfully so ?
With all this said and the stage set, so to speak, it has been my professional experience that the #1challenging area to the Collision repair business is the execution and delivery of intended promises in a consistent and reliable manner. Somewhere between the close of the deal and the delivery result there is a breakdown. Something just doesn’t unfold as planned. Many things can happen and often do, some within your control and some currently may be beyond your control. Some have merit and some may not. These occurrences play havoc with your relationships. You could get support and patience from the good ones but they have an expectation that there will be controlled management on your part of the not so good ones. They are watching their strategic relationship with you.
The customer service experience expectations are high for you and no doubt going to get even more demanding. With all of the buzz words surrounding efficiency being tossed about and with the many external measures you are graded on you have to wonder just how good is good enough ?
When it all comes down to it in reality the primary element, which is often overlooked, for the delivery of predictable service is in the continuity of mission within your facility. The environment you work in and the culture you have created within your walls is the only true measure for your ability to perform. It also dictates as well the level of success you enjoy. These are areas you can control and when you do you can maintain strong “Strategic Relationships” and set yourself up to attract new ones that will be needed to stay in business. After all the reason you got in business is to stay in business, right ?
Every “Strategic Relationship” you have and will have hinges on the level of command you have for your internal environment and consistency in your business offering.
I encourage and hope to inspire you to put some really deep and serious thought onto your internal operation. Is it what you want it to to be, what you intended ? If you could what would you do ? Before you enter the next strategic relationship or purchase that next new product ask yourself and answer yourself , the questions will it fit ? Can my team and I make this work ? Will I realize the true benefit ? am I ready for this ? and most importantly WILL IT HELP ME DELIVER TO MY CUSTOMER ?
Take some time to study the relationships you have and determine if they are strategic to your goals. Do they support your BRAND your mission ? Are you prepared and confident that you and your machine can deliver on the promises you make every time, proud with no failure, no excuses ?
I believe and I want you to believe that you can have success without compromise when you execute and deliver on your commitments and promises maintaining and forging “Strategic Relationships”.
To “Strategic Relationships” !!!