When searching for a new company to do business with, it seems reasonable to think that the most important qualification to look for is how good they are at doing their job.
In fact, research shows that, when it comes to building a profitable and long-lasting business relationship, competence actually comes in at number two.
So what quality could possibly be more important? Good, old-fashioned trust.
Think about it. In any kind of business collaboration, where so many decisions have to be made, a million things can go wrong. Which is why you need to be dealing with people who really have your back. Without trust, the world’s most skilled vendor can never become the partner you need because you’ll always be looking over your shoulder.
Okay, so how can you tell if a company you’re thinking about hiring is in fact trustworthy? Frankly, it’s not easy, and only time will truly tell. But here are five things we’ve found to be decent indicators:
#1 The people, not the paper The RFP that a company submits before you invite them in is a bit of an exercise in looking good. For example, some vendors will try to lowball you to win your business and raise estimates later. So look more to the people in the room and try to get a feel for their integrity that way. In other words, trust your gut, not their proposal.
#2 Transparency How forthcoming is this company when they describe their processes, methods and practices? Are you getting a clear picture or does all the talking have a funny way of not getting you any closer? This one is a red flag for sure.
#3 Their values The company that takes the time to articulate a set of core values is more apt to be a company that actually practices them. So, do they have any? What are they? Does trust play into any of them?
#4 Client retention Do they retain clients for years or is there a lot of turnover? Client retention really does speak louder than words. It’s concrete, verifiable and super-important because no company can keep clients for long if they can’t build a trusting relationship.
#5. Their references Everyone asks for them, but few actually follow up and call. Maybe it’s because they know that the references companies give are bound to be rosy. But there’s still a lot to be learned by carefully listening to their tone of voice so you can gauge their real level of enthusiasm.
Once you do go forward with a new exhibit management company, it’s important to open yourself up to them. No matter what you may have experienced in the past, you can’t have your guard up too high or the new relationship could falter. There are plenty of trustworthy companies out there who will treat every penny like it’s theirs. So we say, embrace the new relationship, give it the benefit of the doubt and you’ll be well on your way to forming a true partnership.