Most business leaders know good relationships are the lifeblood of their company. Ultimately, you can’t have a successful business without first forming the right connections. You need to be able to engage your audience and develop a sense of affinity if you want them to fall in love with your brand.
You also need to ensure you’re constantly committing to delighting and supporting your internal team, to make sure you’re always driving the best results from your staff. However, with so many different relationships to manage in the corporate landscape, it’s easy for a few to end up overlooked.
For instance, when’s the last time you made the time to reach out to your vendors, suppliers, delivery staff, and third-party contractors? These might not the people you and your managers interact with every day, but they’re still crucial cogs in your professional machine. Without them, you wouldn’t have the resources you need to make products, or a reliable fulfillment pipeline.
Here’s how you can start showing your appreciation to the people in your company’s community who spend most of their time flying under the radar.
Why Build Relationships with Vendors and Delivery Staff?
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of good business relationships, particularly when building them with people you don’t always see daily. Many business owners are so heavily focused on engaging their internal team and keeping office employees happy, that they don’t realize how much their other relationships have suffered until it’s too late.
However, the truth is that every employee values appreciation and recognition from their employer. Nobody wants to feel undervalued and overlooked. The stats prove it. One study by the American Psychological Association found 93% of employees who felt “valued” at work were also more motivated to do their best in their jobs. They were also 88% more engaged!
Another report by McKinsey found companies who regularly collaborated and engaged with their suppliers and other “overlooked” team members reported higher growth, lower operating costs, and better profitability than their industry peers.
The Benefits of Better Business Relationships
Reaching out to your vendors, delivery staff, janitors, part-time workers, contractors, and anyone else you can think of who doesn’t get regular recognition pays dividends. It can lead to:
- Cost savings: Even if your suppliers, vendors, and other contracted partners don’t give you a discount in exchange for a good relationship, they’ll be more likely to work harder. Boosted productivity means better opportunities for your bottom line. Plus, you save money on having to search for people to “fill the gap” when your unhappy staff abandon ship.
- Greater efficiency: As mentioned above, happy and recognized employees are also more productive and efficient. They’re motivated to do their best work and deliver the right results every time. Plus, great recognition and support leads to stronger communication. When people have an open and transparent line of communication, fewer mistakes happen.
- Process improvements: When all of your people feel like a valued member of their team, they’re more likely to offer their own insights and ideas on how you can grow your company. People who have a sense of ownership over a brand are far more committed to helping it develop. You might find your overlooked team members become your best collaborators.
- Reduced turnover: No one wants to go through the headache of having to find new suppliers and staff members in a skills-short environment. Studies have shown turnover is up to 4 times higher among employees who get low levels of recognition. Actually connecting with and supporting your partners and team members is a great way to keep them around.
- Improved employer brand: Whenever you want to attract new team members to your business, whether it’s an in-house employee or a contractor, you need a good brand. Your reputation should tell people that it’s a good idea to work with you. Showing regular recognition gets people talking about you positively, improving the sentiment towards your company. You might find it’s easier to get the talent you need.
Above anything else, developing strong relationships with your people transforms your business into more than just a corporate machine. Successful companies are built on happy people who are committed to the companies they work for. The better your relationships with everyone in your community, the more your company will be primed to grow.
Best Practices for Recognizing and Supporting Your People
So, how do you go about actively supporting, recognizing, and engaging your people? It’s simple. All you need to do is start focusing on building some real relationships. Find the people who support your company, and let them know they’re appreciated!
Developing stronger relationships with your under-valued staff is easier than it might appear. You don’t need to text them every day, or check in constantly to make them feel appreciated. You don’t even need to offer massive bonus packages and extra pay if you don’t have the budget.
All you need to do to is find a way to connect.
Here are some great best practice tips to get you started.
1. Identify your Under the Radar Team Members
The first step in building powerful relationships with your entire team, is figuring out which employees and contacts are typically being overlooked. You know who your core team of internal employees are, and you probably already have a strategy for recognition in place to keep them engaged. But, what about everyone else?
Think about all the people who are connected to your business, but not necessarily a part of your central team. These might include:
- Delivery people (UPS, mail carriers, Amazon drivers, fulfillment workers)
- Coffee shop workers and cafeteria staff
- Janitorial staff and cleaning professionals
- Printers and design experts
- Contractors and third-party vendors (photographers, content writers, marketers)
- Bankers, accountants, and financial professionals
- Suppliers, vendors, and manufacturers
2. Get to Know Your People
Once you’ve identified the people connected to your business who might not get enough recognition, it’s time to actually get to know them. Many vendors, third-party contractors, and other professionals actually appreciate their employers making the effort to build professional relationships.
You might even receive invites to dinner or drinks from your suppliers from time to time, which you’ve brushed off as being little more than a friendly comment. The problem for business leaders is it’s often difficult to find the time to actually invest in these relationships. With a business to run, a team to manage, and family life to think about, there aren’t many moments left in the day.
However, taking the time to meet socially with your under-the-radar people could be more valuable than you think. Consider slotting some time into your schedule for conversations, even if it’s just an informal video meeting or a quick chat at lunch.
3. Treat Everyone Like a Member of the Team
One of the major reasons why some people in business groups end up being overlooked, is they’re not considered a real “part of the team” by the business leader. Managers and supervisors slot contractors, suppliers, delivery drivers, and other professionals into an “other” column, which rarely gets a lot of attention. However, these people support, and drive your business too.
Making everyone connected to your business feel like a genuine part of the family is a great way to increase their engagement and buy-in levels. Everyone who devotes their time, passion, and skill to your company should get the same level of support and respect.
With that in mind, make sure everyone gets the same brand merchandise, and always make time when your team members want to talk to you, regardless of who they are. Let your people know they’re also a part of what makes your company work, with regular feedback and “thank you” messages.
4. Maintain Regular Communication
An important part of making everyone in your community feel like part of the team, is regular communication. Vendors, suppliers, delivery staff, and everyone else in your list of overlooked employees don’t like to feel as though they’re being left out of the loop. So, how can you ensure they’re always up-to-date?
A good option is to ensure you include everyone on your list when you’re sending out promotional emails and newsletters. You should also make time for specific one-on-one, or team-based meetings with the groups who don’t usually get a lot of attention from the business leaders. Once a month, meet with your vendors and ask them about their experiences working with your brand.
Every so often, check in with your delivery drivers and see if there’s anything you can do to make their lives easier. Always encourage your people to reach out to the right point person in your organization if they have any questions or concerns too, so you can overcome them together.
5. Help them Grow
Many of the people on your list of overlooked employees might not be working for your business exclusively. This is often true of vendors, suppliers, delivery staff, contractors, and accountants. If you know these people are constantly looking for new clients to add to their roster, help them out with a little promotional boost from time to time.
Recommend the people who work with you to others when you’re taking part in corporate networking events or chatting to other business owners. Make sure they know you’re willing to act as a source of reference for anyone who might want to confirm the quality of their work before they commit to hiring. You could even send them a great review to show on their website or social page.
Helping your people maintain their growth doesn’t mean you’ll need to fight to keep them around in the future. It could actually improve your chances of maintaining a long-lasting relationship. Some suppliers and contractors will even give you discounts in exchange for referrals, to help reduce your total operating costs.
6. Show Your Appreciation with Gifts
Gifts and care packages are a common part of rewarding your team members and showing them, you care. However, while most in-office employers receive gifts for the holidays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, it’s easy to overlook showing the same level of appreciation to your “under the radar” staff. You don’t need to send constant presents or make big gestures to make these individuals and groups feel appreciated.
Sometimes, a small gift is all it takes. Remember, when sending a gift, you should always try to make it as thoughtful and personalized as possible. Don’t just send a gift card once a year for products you already sell. Instead, get your people something they’re genuinely going to appreciate. For instance, the Spoonful “A Taste of Spoonful” packages are all budget-friendly solutions, packed with the items corporate customers consistently ask for.
You get a complete meal included, with soup, cookies, a kitchen towel, and rolls. Plus, you can customize the whole package with a personalized message from you. A little gift can go a long way to transforming your relationship with your people.
Show Your People You Appreciate Them
Every year, there are countless people connected to your company, helping to support your growth, providing you with crucial services, and making sure your business can thrive. However, more often than not, many of these individuals simply don’t get the recognition they deserve.
The next time you’re looking for ways to engage your employees and build stronger staff relationships, think about the people you might be missing. Who do you rely on in your team that doesn’t get a lot of feedback and support from you and your business leaders?
Reaching out to your suppliers, vendors, contractors, delivery staff, and everyone else who often flies underneath the radar can be a powerful way to take your company to the next level. After all, while your relationships with customers might be the key to maintaining a good revenue, your business simply wouldn’t exist without the people who keep it running.
Show everyone in your team you care with the right communication, commitment, and a little extra care. Reach out to Spoonful today to start building your own custom gifts for your team.