Building Client Relationships

February 2021

In my experience, client relationships are critical to the success of a business. I have formed many great relationships throughout my career, and many of these connections have turned into not only business relationships, but also personal friendships. In my role as president of the AWCI, I have established great connections with other members and prospective clients through meetings, conventions and other events I have attended both locally and across the country. The experience has provided me with solid recommendations to customers traveling to other parts of the United States.
    
In this column I want to touch on two important topics: maintaining existing relationships and developing new ones.
    
First, I want to tell you a story I will never forget that was told to me by a general contractor about a subcontractor who brought the GC several hats for Christmas. Upon receiving the gifts, the GC asked the sub what he wanted; the GC suggested a bottle of wine for his wife because he already has too many identical hats in storage.
    
The message I want to share is the importance of getting to know people personally—how it will help to grow relationships with your customers. It is imperative to the continued success of our businesses that we continually strive to not only maintain our existing relationships, but improve on them.
    
I have heard throughout my whole career that people like to do business with people they like. I truly believe this. The better we get to know people and the better they get to know us, we build our trust in one another.
    
Just as important as maintaining relationships is working to develop new ones. We cannot expect to sustain success over the long-term if we are not continuing our business development practices. I urge all our members to get connected within their business community to make these new connections.
    
Of the many different opportunities we never miss is the chance to attend a “meet and greet” often offered by local associations; pre-bid meetings are another great opportunity for meet-ups. If we take the time to seek new opportunities, we will find that there are many more than we think. We need to capitalize on these different work events to grow our customer base and develop these new relationships.
    
Lastly, we need to remember, the best way to both maintain existing relationships and develop new ones is to make sure we always do what we say we are going to do, and do a good job for our customers.

In addition to being 2020–2021 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Chip McAlpin is division president of the Jackson, Miss., and Louisiana offices of F.L. Crane & Sons.