Dedication to Building: Professional Relationships
In at least one summer in our lives, we’ve been the kid selling lemonade on the street. We bother our parents to go to the store at the last minute, claiming that our lives depend on buying the supplies for our very own stand. We dream about our customers and what our signs are going to look like﹣ we even picture ourselves making enough money to afford those shoes we’ve been eyeing all summer. The morning of, we put on the outfit we’ve chosen the night before and rush outside to catch our first customers. We smile and wave at joggers and new moms pushing strollers around and families walking their dogs. We yell that we have lemonade; our jaws begin to hurt because we’re working so hard to attract our first customer. And then it happens﹣ the first customer arrives. They make casual conversation and ask us about our stand and our prices and if we’re going to be out the next day, even the next week. We work hard to show them that we value them as a customer: we make direct eye contact, firmly shake their hands, tell them about why our business is important. Most importantly, we dedicate the service, not to why our lemonade is better than the stand three houses down, but to the customer and how we appreciate their decision to sip on us. This is one of the very first lessons we learn about good business practice. That night, we take our cash and fall asleep, thinking about how we can make our business run smoother and also gain loyal customers.
As barbers, we are often taught to emphasize the quality of our cuts. We learn about precision and the importance of staying vigilant when considering tools and resources for our future endeavours. However, rarely do we talk about professionalism in the craft and how that affects our business and brand.
If persons aren’t willing to reconnect with us after we provide our services, our services lose their value.
One of the things we need to consider as barbers is our dedication to maintaining professional relationships outside of the barbering world. Our brand needs to be reflective of a myriad of connections in and outside of the chair. This allows us to build our network laterally and extend our reach in environments that might not have been open to us prior to these connections. Maintenance focuses on these four core values:
Presence﹣the ability to stay connected after your initial meeting
Detail﹣ learning to emphasis smaller details that show you’re attentive to the direction of the relationship
Time﹣ the idea that your input is reflected in their response to your dedication to the relationship (time wise)
Partnership﹣ building a relationship that extends outside the limitations of the brands current goals and focus on building together
Let’s break this concept down. If we want to build our business to include professional athletes, how can we utilize these four core values to establish our brand and build our professional working relationship?
Presence- Attending games and leaving business cards with information for staff and team management is one way to build presence. We might even include vouchers for free cuts for managers/staff/players while the team plays in our city.
Detail- While solidifying our presence with a potential partnership, we will need to pull important details. This may manifest in the form of remembering when teams will be arriving or offering our services before birthdays or for important events. In addition, this might include providing information that is unrelated to baberbing but important to the people we are working with and will highlight our attention to providing accurate and detailed service.
Time- Emphasizing our dedication to the partnership in these ways will highlight the time we’ve taken to get to know the people we’re working with and ensuring our goal is to produce quality service through our actions. These actions should be recognized by other persons involved and will allow us to use these connections to spread information without having to advocate directly to potential clients﹣ our work and those we work with will speak on our behalf.
Partnership-We have always been told that relationships build organically by the energy that we invest, and this also extends to building partnerships. By applying the three core values, partnerships develop organically﹣ our job is to maintain and work at these relationships to secure the connection we’ve established.
Utilizing these four core values, regardless of the relationship we’re trying to build, will allow us to increase our professional presence in and out of the shop.