Forming good relations between businesses

Small communities offer unique opportunities to help businesses be successful. One is to form strong business relationships with local vendors. In this day and age when everyone is looking for the cheapest cost, they often overlook what may be the “best value”.  By “best value”, I mean doing business with a company that will provide a quality product or service, work with you, and go the extra mile to make sure you are pleased. Let me tell you of two recent encounters I had as a small business in obtaining services here in Newport, Oregon. Recently our company completed an important report for the state on the development technology of wave energy. Because of its importance in guiding Oregonians in the development of this alternate means of sustainable energy, we wanted our report to be both attractive and clear in presenting its information. So we contracted with two local businesses: Mandish Design and Lazerquick.  For us, like so many small businesses, cost was an issue. We just did not have a lot of money to put into these reports. But we wanted them to look good. Both companies we knew had good reputations for working with their clients. So we presented each a budget for what we could afford, and they in turn found ways to provide what we needed to make the report look good.

In each case, the work was not as straightforward as we had hoped. We weren’t sure what graphics we needed in all cases or how they should look, but the graphic artist, Dan Mandish, was patient in working with us in selecting each graphic and making sure all our needs were addressed. Likewise, in printing the document that we developed on one system (a Mac in Microsoft Word) and converted it to a PDF for printing on another system (a PC), we were faced with difficulties in having the fonts print off correctly. With patience and a lot of extra effort, we were able to finally get the document printed exactly the way we wanted it. The owner of Lazerquick, Rose Reed, worked long hours the final day to make sure the report printed the way we wanted it. Many times we have dealt with companies that either don’t understand what we want, don’t have the skills to do the special things we want done, or end up charging us more because the project took longer than had thought. It is the custom at our company to ensure the customer not pay more than the agreed upon price, even if things do not go as expected. And when we find other companies that work as we do, it is very much appreciated.

What if you have tried this and still have had the work turn out not the way you have wanted? Well, there are two choices. One is the obvious one of taking your business elsewhere. And this is your prerogative, and one I have exercised on occasion. The one I like better, though, is one in which you go to the company providing the bad service and remind them you would like to develop a long term working relationship with them. Let them know your expectations. And if work is substandard, let them know how they can correct the situation to foster a lasting relationship. Always be courteous, respectful, and professional, and more often than not, the company will work with you.

The lesson is clear. When seeking or providing products or services from businesses, find local businesses that provide the types of products and services you want, and work with them to build a working relationship. The result will be better value for you. And you might even make a new friend.

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