Can you do good business when you have a bad relationship?


No quarter given ..

There is no point taking that phone call and even trying to sort anything out.

You may have read a previous blog post of mine titled “Are you doing bad business?“, which basically looked at business that is not good because something isn’t right between you and the supplier or the customer.

I gave a few examples where we ended up doing what I call “bad business” and at the heart of each of these there was a poor relationship between both parties.

One of the examples was a supplier of ours who I just hated dealing with because of their attitude towards us. I felt they never had any respect for us, their manner was always poor and there was no appreciation of the business that we brought them.

I always disliked dealing with them on the phone or by email as I found them to be unpleasant but on the flip side they were quite a reliable supplier who offered good products at competitive prices, so we continued dealing with them.

In truth I resented every order we sent them and every cheque we paid them but despite my best efforts I struggled to get my guys to find an alternative supplier. I found myself living with this poor business relationship and accepting that sometimes maybe it is not important to “like” or respect who you deal with as long as they deliver the goods – isn’t that the most important thing?

After all it’s probably unnatural and quite unrealistic to like everyone you deal with but given a choice (where you have one) it is clearly better when there is a good relationship. Right?

I guess this scenario is fine as long as the relationship is not put under pressure or tested in any way.

This week I had to deal with an issue that occurred with my “favourite” supplier. Something messed up on some work they did for us and cutting a long story short they were putting the blame on my guys and as a result wanted us to cough up 100% of the cost of this unusable job.

We do a lot of work with this crew (incredibly a relationship going back nearly 8 years) and even if we were to blame for the error I would have expected some level of compromise or willingness to come to some fair arrangement between both parties – I was shocked to hear my guys struggle on the phone with our supplier trying to resolve the issue.

They weren’t accepting any blame whatsoever and furthermore were most definitely entertaining no break or compromise with us – listening to conversation I knew this was not right.

I decided to jump in and investigate the “mistake” for myself and realised that the error was actually on their side. I’m not saying we never make mistakes because at times we do – mistakes can happen but it’s how you deal with them that is important.

If our relationship was good we would probably give each other a break, and arrive at some fair compromise. Both parties would want to address the issue and protect the good working arrangement for the future.

As it stands they say we are 100% to blame. For me they are 100% to blame.

In a normal scenario we could easily resolve this. In this scenario I know we won’t. Do I want to?…nah.

Bad business always bites you in the end!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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