Office Max Roundtable: Relationship Building and Competition


Last week TAG had the privilege of attending the Office Max Roundtable event for business owners. Senior Vice President Steve Sunderland and Executive Vice President Kim Feil facilitated the panel discussion of what it’s like to run a business and how a large corporation such as theirs could connect with us. From there we were broken into smaller groups with managers from OfficeMax stores all across the country.

Kim Feil and Steve Sunderland on stage at the OfficeMax Roundtable

 

We found that there were a huge variety of businesses, but the commonality we all shared was our desire to build relationships. For businesses and especially small businesses building lasting relationships is key. The strength that businesses have over huge corporations is our ability to make altruistic gestures and more importantly work together. The layman might say, “You’re just a wolf in sheep’ clothing; there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. In business we know that you make one person’ day and it comes back ten-fold.

Having relationships with your competitors is a positive, not a negative. This was one of the hot topics: Do new businesses need to scope out their competition? Not necessarily. As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings. However, it is a waste of energy worrying what the competition is up to. There is enough business out there for everyone.

There was a consensus amongst business owners that retaining and acquiring clients is based on the quality of your work. If your customers can count on your expertise to complete the job, it’s highly unlikely that they will be looking elsewhere for a “deal”. One of the business owners I had the pleasure of meeting mentioned that he charges just a little bit more than the status quo, but continues to have a healthy flow of clients. When they come to him they know exactly what they are getting and are assured of his superior work. Additionally, he donates that little bit extra to several nonprofits.

From this roundtable discussion we reiterated:
1. Relationship building is key.
2. Retaining and acquiring clients is based on the quality of your work not the price as compared to the competition.

We learned:
3. Big corporations are finally listening and even asking advice.

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