Friendship with Clients and it’s Importance – Not Everyone Agrees!

"Pretty Woman" 1990 - Considered a decade defining film it explores key themes of wealth distribution, prostitution, wealth not buying you happiness and business friendships (thank you to Touchstone Pictures for the image use).

“Pretty Woman” 1990 – Considered a decade defining film – it explores key themes of wealth distribution, prostitution, wealth not buying you happiness and business friendships (thank you to Touchstone Pictures for the image use).

Writing the heading of this article has got me thinking “Really?” and the fact that has been an issue for me has really taught me that you can never assume that everyone else thinks the same way as you do.  Over the past few months of 2013 and especially as my business has come together – I have made some amazing friends.

I also want to dedicate this article to an amazing friend and business woman who knows who she is! She originally hired me and I hired her back sometime later as my fine CPA Level Accountant to this day.  The kindness and she support given to me by her has been amazing and the inspiration behind this article.

Talking making friends and people turning on you, I now see it a bit like buying Cups of Coffee across town.  Not every cup of Coffee you buy will be good – but you hope that at least 8 out of 10 cups are great so you keep drinking coffee! My business and friendships are that, if I make say 10 friends – at some point 2 of those friends will opt-out and turn on me.  This used to quite bug me, but I have finally accepted the truth and if I make 8 awesome friends and 2 turn on me or betray me – then awesome! If I get 6 betraying me, it means I have made 24 new friends so super sweet.

It also brings me back to one of my favourite movies.  Yes, I know guys – don’t laugh at me, but I LOVE Pretty Woman with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts (if you haven’t seen it – download it on iTunes or XBOX Video right now!).  It was released in 1990 and even if the film was released tomorrow, I think it would be a hit.  Without blowing the film, it’s a story about a multi-millionaire businessman “Edward” (Richard Gere) hiring the “Services” of a street prostitute “Vivian” (Julia Roberts) and the adventures they encounter.

Edward (my name, scary) is staying in a Top Hotel and he pays $3,000 to Vivian to spend the week with him and escort him to various social & business engagements.  She stays with Richard in on of the Top Hotels in town, with her “Street Charm” and dress to the obvious disgust of Hotel Staff and many prestigious guests.  The Hotel Manager is obviously quite concerned with everyone knowing exactly what Richard Gere’s sinister character is up to – forcing the manager to intervene.

“Thompson” the Hotel Manager who obviously has a job to do makes a great point about business and friendship when assertively explaining the rules to Vivian (thank you to Wiki Quotes for the reference):

– Thompson: Now, Mr. Lewis, however, is a very special customer, and we like to think of our special customers as friends. Now, as a customer, we would expect Mr. Lewis to sign in any additional guests, but as a friend, we’re willing to overlook it. Now, I’m assuming that you’re a… [long pause] … relative?

– Vivian: [meekly] Yes.

– Thompson: I thought so. Then you must be his…

– [Thompson gives Vivian an expectant nod. Another long pause.]

– Vivian: Niece?

– Thompson: Of course. Naturally, when Mr. Lewis leaves, I won’t see you in this hotel again. I assume you have no other uncles here?

A brilliant scene and I think one of the best moments of cinema and it shows in a humorous way the importance of friendships and relationships in business. The friendship gives the Hotel Client more and better services and gives the Hotel the ongoing loyalty and love of a top client with money to spend.

Right from my early Government Days to today, building relationships with people is just critical and making friends if possible is even better! Banks have Relationship Managers which it’s their Primary Jobs to Manage Relationships and become Friends with high value clients.  If you are reading this article, I know you are one awesome operator and you don’t need me to justify this argument anymore.  If I had too, it would be only a few little Google Searches with quotes from Industry Leaders backing up this type of thinking.

Now I am shaking my head as there are people that disagree with this. Yes, I am not kidding you. If I think about all the people that have taken advantage of me is business that I considered friends, they from my own experience don’t think this way. That is, quite often they have separated business and their friendships and I think this in many cases is the beginning of all trouble.

Yes, you have some situations where friendship is inappropriate or you have to trade with a “Hostile Partner” – but in most situations my colleagues and I have seen this hold true.

Talking the bulk of situations becoming friends is a commercially wise move.  It keeps you trusting each other, the long term relationship often leads to better quality goods and services delivery and aiming things more at Small Business Marketing and Entrepreneurs – it is the basis for effective referral relationships and business networking.

As for myself directly – whenever I have had real friends as clients, suppliers or referral partners and talking “Commercialism” the quality has always been just much better.  As clients people listen more and you can be more direct for their own good, suppliers give you better value and you want to pay them first and friends usually promote you!

People that engage the opposite thinking of “No this is business” (quite often in the legal profession – which can be understandable in lot of cases) in my experience usually aren’t the leaders.  Some area, but in most cases I have seen – they usually are not liked, don’t have the money or even the “Influence” that they need.  Let’s face it, if you start on the bottom like I did and I am sure many reading this article did – you can’t just push people around to get what you want.

You have to be part of their lives and community so as you assist them, they take you with you and speak highly of you.  What is the most ethical and intelligent Relationship Marketing Strategy? Become their friends! Sounds obvious I know, but not just talking my Marketing Mentoring job but also as a Networking Leader – I see so many people that do the opposite, don’t have the results and you can tell them till you are blue in the face and they just don’t want to get it.

If you have been done over a few times like I have, try not to let it get to you! It does to me at times, but I always focus on the fact I have more awesome people on my side.  And taking it to the next level if you have a great client or partner and you know they won’t screw you over and are nice – lower your guard.  Become friends with them and you will be amazed at what can be created.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you want to learn more Small Business Marketing & Sales Strategies – make sure you check out my Awesome Marketing Vault – packed full of awesome content for people like yourself!

God Bless and have a wonderful day or night around the globe from Edward Zia – Marketing Mentor who loves doing business with friends! (Not everyone agrees with this you know!)