You’ve heard it said a thousand times: “This is business, not personal.” That infamous mantra from “The Godfather” has always rankled me. Maybe it’s because I’m a believer that if something matters to you, it has to be personal.
Sure, we all strive to increase our revenues and profits, but especially in this sluggish economy it’s not always just about who sells the widget at a lower price. Business is about two people helping each other to solve a problem.
Another lesson I’ve learned from my 15 years in the recruiting business is that people do business with those they like and trust. So short of having a mafia boss to contend with, that requires a deft touch, a little creativity, and the desire to build long-lasting, personal relationships with your clients.
As we near Valentine’s Day, here are a few tips on how you can master the art of getting personal in the professional realm.
Everyone loves a little chocolate
Remembering clients’ birthdays, knowing about their families, listening to the people you work with and understanding their challenges are the essential ingredients to building a strong relationship.
But don’t underestimate the power of a gift.
Having opened our company last spring, my business partner Jeff Weinstock and I knew the value of reaching out to our clients at Christmas time. We wanted to thank them for helping us get up and running — and we wanted them to know that we’re available to help with their recruiting needs in 2010.
We made the decision to set aside three full days in December to personally deliver the holiday gifts to all 72 of our clients. It was definitely a commitment on our part. Not only did we work to find just the right gift — a personalized box of chocolates each client could share with the staff — but the logistics of finding the most efficient route to get to them all in Washington, DC traffic was a real challenge.
After the first two stops we knew we had made the right decision. At those offices, and each one thereafter, we were received so warmly and enthusiastically by our clients. And with each client visit, we found ourselves getting more excited about the next stop.
Was our gesture unexpected due to the economic climate and the fact that we are a start-up company with a modest budget? Were our clients pleasantly surprised by our visit because many of them had not yet needed our staffing expertise, yet there we were taking time out of our busy day to stop by and express our gratitude? Yes, I’m sure all of that was in play. But the bottom line is that they simply appreciated that we cared enough to show up and say happy holidays.
Return on Investment
I know what you are asking yourself: In addition to generating some great PR, was there any real financial gain? Believe it or not, in several instances we got new business right there on the spot.
In fact, one of our favorite clients who works for a large law firm actually pulled our entire staff into her office so she could sit with us for 20 minutes and catch up. She’s now giving us regular business simply because we took the time to show our human side and build our relationship.
Sure, we could have paid UPS or FedEx to deliver our holiday gifts for us. But the time we spent on-site getting to know our clients truly was priceless.
So this Valentine’s Day, remember the Rhodes & Weinstock mantra: “It’s not just business, it is also personal.” Take the time to plan ahead and give something special to your clients to say thanks. You’ll reap the rewards on many levels for months to come.
About Paige Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer
Rhodes & Weinstock
Prior to co-founding Rhodes & Weinstock in 2009, Paige Rhodes spent more than 15 years in staffing, human resources, and law firm management.
Throughout her career, she gained an intricate knowledge of the temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct placement services. In addition to her staffing industry experience, Paige also spent several years in human resources, and as an HR Manager at two large law firms in the DC Metropolitan area.
The combination of in-house and outplacement recruiting experience gives her a unique understanding of the hiring needs and concerns of her clients, from large multinational corporations to small start-ups.
Paige prides herself on developing long-term relationships with her candidates and clients. She believes superior customer service and honesty are the cornerstones of a successful business relationship. Paige is a member of the American Staffing Association and the National Association of Women Business Owners. She is a graduate of the University of Florida and a proud Gator!