It might be a hoodie, a T-shirt or a pair of jeans. It's that favorite piece of clothing you can't wait to put on. You reach for it time after time because it's comfortable, dependable, you feel good wearing it, and it works with everything.
For me it's a gray, zip-up hoodie. I can wear it year around, wash it easily and often, and it just gets better and better. I can work in it -- paint, sew, do yardwork -- or just hang out (to be honest, I do more of the latter than the former).
Where is this going? Stick with me here ...
My work has been in the field of financial planning and investment management. At my firm, we distinguish ourselves as relational rather than purely transactional in our client interactions. For us, that means we engage our clients and want to know them personally so we can better serve them and help them reach their goals. We don't merely perform transactions for them, we take our relationship with them very seriously.
Our success in business, though, requires that we become very efficient at executing the transactions of our offerings. Client relationships develop and strengthen when expectations are met as promised. The objective is to develop strong relationships while executing transactions efficiently day in and day out, year after year.
Our success also depends on working well with our co-workers so they can do their part to help us reach our objectives. Each team member involved in a transaction is also directly or indirectly involved in the relationship as well. He or she needs to have the tools to be able to complete his or her specific part of the interaction to meet expectations, as well as an understanding and appreciation of the client relationship. The importance and value of this is sometimes overlooked. It is difficult to be invested in the transaction if you are not also invested in the relationship. It's just as important to know the "why" as it is to know the "what" and the "how."
So, back to my favorite hoodie. I was first attracted to it because of the way it looked, and the hope it would wear well. It has done that and more. It functions well and provides dependable comfort. I have grown to trust that it will serve me well, and it never lets me down. So even though I have countless other items I could choose instead, they have failed to perform. None were a good fit. So I reach for my gray hoodie.
Successful businesses are kind of like that favorite hoodie, don't you think? They are chosen again and again because they follow through with commitments, are worthy of trust and serve you well.