Loyalty and respect go a long way in business
I recently had the pleasure and privilege of attending a very special client function, the celebration of my client Ken Easter’s anniversary of 40 years in the transport business. This year also marks 30 years that I have been acting for Ken and it gave me cause to reflect on the importance of mutual loyalty and respect in our adviser/client relationship.
The transport industry is a tough game and many players have come and gone in Ken’s time. It has by no means been a smooth ride, and there were occasions when it looked to be all over, but a combination of resilience, patience, planning and sheer luck has kept the business alive and seen it grow into a highly respected player in the transport sector.
Clients often come to us when they have some trouble in their business and their existing advisers are unable or unwilling to help them through those difficulties. I was joined on Ken’s table by his Lawyer, Finance Broker and Insurance Broker, all of whom have worked with Ken for at least 25 years. We have all been seriously challenged by business issues experienced by Ken over the years, yet all have accepted those challenges and worked together to solve problems, and improve the business.
On other tables were past and present truck dealers, parts dealers, repairers, drivers and admin staff, along with family members who are all somehow involved in the business. An eclectic group indeed, founded on loyalty and respect.
Ken is not one to mince words, nor to hand out gratuitous praise. But he engenders loyalty by standing by those who stand by him. “Hard but fair” is a cliché but entirely appropriate to epitomise Ken’s approach to life and business, his respect is hard earned and well won.
During Ken’s 30 years as my client I have been in practices ranging from 4 people to 200, but we have always maintained a personal approach in our business dealings. While the staff can produce most of what Ken requires, it is the ongoing personal communication between the adviser and his client that is essential to effectively working together.
Some years ago, it was a constant battle to get accurate and timely information from Ken’s existing systems, which was frustrating at all levels of the business. Changes were made that enabled us to provide Ken with a timely and meaningful monthly report, in particular rolling profit and cash flow forecasts that are now instrumental in the management of his business.
Ken’s overt commitment to compliance is another reason he has stood the test of time. The transport industry is highly regulated and to survive a business needs strict compliance in areas such as award payments, driver safety, driver fatigue, equipment, insurance and a raft of others. Good customers value this commitment and it has been an integral part of Ken’s success.
Clients come and go for many reasons, so it’s a great source of pride and gratification to have long term client relationships such as Ken. Those basics of loyalty and respect stand the test of time, and we can all do well to reflect on them regularly in our business and personal lives.