Article originally published by the American City Business Journals on November 8, 2021.
Businesses become successful by differentiating themselves – by becoming the preferred company of employees, customers and vendors. This is a source of huge competitive advantage.
As we exit the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s a seller’s market for talent and labor. There are shortages of workers across many industries. Becoming the preferred employer – the company that people want to work for – can mean the difference between a thriving business and a less successful one.
How does a company become the preferred employer? It treats its employees with respect and as valued assets. It attracts and retains employees by paying at least a competitive wage and providing a benefit package – competitive not only within its industry, but also with an individual’s alternative options of where they can work.
Employers should listen to their employees and seriously consider their input and suggestions, which helps employees feel a sense of ownership in what they do. This develops loyalty to the company, reduces turnover and avoids the costs of training new employees and the time it takes to come up the learning curve. Employees who are loyal are invested in the company and will treat customers better, helping the company become the preferred provider to its markets.
Preferred provider to the marketplace
I have often written about how to become the preferred provider to your market – the company that customers/clients want to do business with. Becoming the preferred provider develops customer loyalty, which is a very significant competitive advantage.
You become the preferred provider to your market by giving your customers/clients a great experience that exceeds their expectations. Preferred providers will tell a customer, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it,” and then follow through. You earn the customer’s trust and loyalty.
Preferred customer of vendors
Not much has been written about the advantages of becoming a preferred customer of the vendors who deliver products and services to your company. Some companies deal with vendors on a transactional basis without ever developing a true partnership with them. You cannot develop a vendor’s loyalty to your company when you deal with them this way.
How do you become a preferred customer to vendors? Be easy to deal with. Pay your bills on time. You should develop a long term relationship beyond one that is simply transactional. Why is this important? You get better service. At times of shortages, you want to be at the front of the line – ahead of your competition – when you need a product or service in order to meet the needs of your customers.
If a vendor’s price is not competitive, share with them the price they need to meet to avoid losing a share of your business.
Your company’s vendors are a source of ideas for improving your operations and growing your business, and they can be a source of information on what your competitors are doing. Vendors want to grow with you. Take advantage of it.
Operate your business to become the preferred employer, provider to the market and customer of vendors. The reputation of your business will grow and your business will thrive.
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.