Being friendly doesn't cost you anything but can save money for you and your business.
Businesslike friendliness is the art of connecting with people quickly, simply, consistently without crossing boundaries. It's engaging in conversations of mutual interest rather than pushing an agenda; asking questions politely without being intrusive; getting an understanding of another business's mission and values without judging merit; being approachable without being too available. Being friendly means genuine interest for reasons apart from sales and profit.
Benefits of social interaction, pleasantness and graciousness often surface at unexpected moments. They are the bonus points of business. Very often, though, deliberate acts of friendliness can predictably reap payback. Here are ways you can save money:
Understand how your vendors operate and how they serve your company.
Get to know the people who own the business as well as those who tend to the day-to-day details in operations, customer service and billing. Discover the difficult aspects of their jobs so that, if possible, you can structure your dealings with the vendor in the least troublesome and most cost-effective way.
Save money by:
- Negotiating lower pricing (or avoiding price increases) that allow the vendor to keep its profit margins because your business is easier-than-most to serve.
- Avoiding costly disputes or paying for off-spec merchandise because you've been able to evaluate vendor capabilities thoroughly and communicate your company's needs clearly.
- Eliminating the need to pay for rush orders because you are aware of lead times, peak seasons, problems that tend to slow production, and the best times to place orders for fastest throughput.
As you build and nurture contacts, show that you have integrity.
Convey that you are a good steward of resources with not only your business's finances but also sensitive information that others may share.
Save money by:
- Receiving free items by becoming the person that others think of first when they are hoping to find a good home for unneeded items, such as used office equipment or tickets to local ballgames. People will call you because they know that 1) you won't accept an item you can't use, and 2) you are likely to know someone who can use extra stuff because of your depth of contacts.
- Borrowing items that you may otherwise need to purchase.
- Getting first dibs on low-cost inventory close-outs and limited offers, apart from electronic alerts. Your business is likely to hear about special deals because your integrity means that you'll honor terms of agreements, won't try to get these deals every day, and won't tell everyone you know about discount pricing.
Be an outgoing (and responsible) tenant if you lease commercial space.
Politely inform your landlord of maintenance and repair issues as well as any unusual or suspicious activities that may require excessive amounts of spending if not dealt with promptly. Work with fellow tenants to establish guidelines for use of common areas and resolve any problems through mutual agreements.
Save money by:
- Avoiding rent increases or extra fees associated with higher-than-expected operating expenses for common areas and entire properties.
- Making it preferable for your landlord to continue leasing space to your business, rather than finding a replacement tenant for a higher price.
Talk with business owners.
Find out about their areas of expertise, and listen to stories about their businesses in addition to telling them about your business. Get to know a wide range of people in diverse industries, including those unrelated to yours. Start by developing a working knowledge of the purpose, products, services, and goals of various businesses; then delve into specific challenges in areas such as hiring, technology, government contracting, and social media. Find out about problems common to many types of businesses.
Save money by:
- Adopting money-saving practices of other businesses.
- Taking preventive, inexpensive actions now rather than having to spend a lot of money later to correct problems.
- Getting recommendations from outside experts while sharing your expertise with other business owners.
- Avoiding certain capital expenditures by finding ways to get results from existing infrastructure.
Conventional wisdom indicates that friendliness can generate results for sales and marketing. An outgoing, talkative person tends to make more sales calls, quickly builds rapport, easily establishes relationships, and relentlessly follows up to advance the sales process to the next level or close deals.
Friendliness can also produce savings for those who are looking for ways to reduce expenses while growing a business. To become the person with whom others want to connect and engage, be friendly, sensitive about information you share, and vigilant about fiscal responsibility.