Monday, December 19, 2011

Local Business Relationships

I'm not really the business advice giving type.  I like to sew, I like to teach people to sew and beyond that I try to keep my opinions to myself.  But today I felt the need to share my small business experience with all of you!


Sometimes it's easy to think, "I don't do any selling locally, so it's not important for me to develop relationships with local businesses." 

The reality though, is that cultivating those local relationships is important for you and for your business.

My local chamber of commerce has a motto, "partners doing business with partners first."  I really love being a member of my chamber.  The number of people I have met and worked with is wonderful.  Because of that motto, whenever I need an item or a service, I automatically go to the members of the chamber first.  I have also started to employ that motto in other areas of my life as well.  For example, "Handmade artists going to handmade artists first." Or, "Etsy sellers shopping on Etsy first." Or, "Local businesses going to local businesses first."    

In the past, most of my business was done locally as I was a seamstress and did alterations for lots of locals.   The relationships that were developed back then have helped give me strength to move forward, showed me that my work was valued and helped me to grow myself along side of growing my business.

Since closing my alterations business, most of my work is done online, but those local relationships I developed are still SO important!  Whether you develop a rapport with the big man at a little office or the little man at a big business, you never know when that relationship is going to make a difference to you professionally or personally.

I once again experienced how very important those relationships are today.

Whether my business has been local or online, I have always had to visit my local Post Office.  Sometimes up to four times a week. Over the years I've gotten to know almost all of the employees at my local post office.  It's nice to know who you are doing business with, and there is nothing better then getting to greet one another with a genuine smile and enjoying the business you both do.  Even when there is a long line at my post office, I don't mind because I know that everyone at my local post office are working hard!  And that they will do their best to help me.

         Today I went to the post office with my son.  I had two work packages, a huge pile of Christmas cards
       and a large box filled with one-of-a-kind Christmas presents for my family.  Even though we got there
       right after they opened, there was already a giant line!  While in the line, it was suggested we go to the
       much, much smaller line and use the machine to print our postage.  Usually, I don't use the machine
       because I like to say, Hi, to the employees and have a real person help me send out my packages.
       However, today with the help of an employee we used the machine.  After printing the postage, I put it
       on the box and my son got to carry the box to the back, since it was too big to fit in the package roller.
       Feeling accomplished my son and I said bye, gave our office a Christmas card and went on our way!

           Fast forward to an hour and a half later.  While at home working, I suddenly realized, I DIDN'T 
       LABEL MY BOX!!!!  I literally ran out of my house, leaped in the car and drove to the post office as fast
       as legally possible (no really I am not a speeder).  After rushing into the office and waiting in line I
       explained to one of the employees that I interact with regularly what happened.  She calmed me down
       and went in the back with my receipt.  After about 8 minutes (maybe more or less, not sure my heart
       was racing the ENTIRE time) she came out with my package!  Whew!  I got to put on the label and
       now my package is on it's way and will arrive in time for Christmas.

Honestly, I have no idea if this is how it would have happened if I had no relationship with my local post office. Also, I have no desire to find out!

I have always felt that it was important to cultivate relationships with local businesses and have experienced the importance in the past.

Today was just a prime example of one of the times that having a relationship with local offices can make a huge difference in your life and the life of your business.

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