“We’ve never been in the coffee business serving people. We’ve always been in the people business serving coffee.” – Howard Schultz, Former CEO – Starbucks
Life is a business. It’s a transaction from one point to the other till the last day. If this is the case then it may also be deduced that business is life for which this then denotes a scenario where the essential of life apply in business. This essential piece is relationships. This is the basis as to why we have relationship marketing as a category and a hailed one for that matter.
I was recently watching an interview by Howard Schultz that aired after the 2008 recession after he had been recalled to steer the company forward at that tumultuous moment. He returned and turned the business around. From his account, it was a matter of making the things that matter most take precedence and stay as a priority all through. This was anchored on their focus on people. In the process Starbucks had to close some of their outlets to retrain their people before reopening stores again. This is uncharacteristic of most businesses especially at times of crisis. Watching the video, I was reminded of some key lessons I’ve been able to learn over time.
I believe it’s important for us to view every business transaction as the start of a relationship. When I talk of business, it’s not only the sale and purchase of a product but extends even into employment because in the end you have a transaction with your employees. Like any relationship, we need a good introduction that makes us tick and keep engaging onwards. Beyond the introduction, we need to nurture that relationship and make it thrive and be conducive, thrilling and fulfilling for both parties involved. Beyond offering a product, a service or a job; the impact of your single act extends beyond your imagination. That’s the power of relationships in an interconnected and related world.
Late last month as I was in the village, I mentioned in this article on honesty how my engagement with the contractors went. It warmed my heart and I’ll add a piece to it today. At the point of paying for the services they had rendered, the head of the team mentioned that it wasn’t about the money but the value of the money. As three (3) men who had been engaged working through the day to fend for their families, that pay wasn’t for the work but a means to provide for their families. With an average of 5 people in each family at the nuclear level with room for 2-5 more in extended families it means a lot. That analogy made me reflect on this and rethink the whole transaction from a perspective of paying for a service to contributing to the empowerment of my people. That’s an enabling feeling by itself and makes us all want to do better.
In correlation with the two stories, you acknowledge the contribution of our interactions in business to our communities and how they have a chance at empowering people. It’s on this account that we are accustomed to the saying: “take care of your people and they’ll take care of you.” We’ll when taking care of your people, it’s important that we equip, enlighten and empower our people to make the right decisions for the ultimate client who has an obligation for the care of their own people. A single act on your end, has the chance to influence the entire chain and it needs to be done right.
Why do we do business? To serve individuals who need our goods or services to satisfy a need or a want with the ability to pay for it. The key here is people and therefore in every interaction we are involved in, we are serving people. Our area of operation is just but a means to make that a reality. Consider this the next time you are making a business transaction.
“A business transaction is the beginning of a relationship. You decide how it goes.”