Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Just Ask.

About a year ago, a senior project manager of ours was having lunch in a local BBQ joint and happened to be sitting next to someone he had not seen in many years. As he was leaving, he reintroduced himself. They shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

Three months later, the almost forgotten friend came into the picture again. We are now rebuilding their corporate campus and developing what seems to be headed towards a long-term customer relationship.

I make it a habit to check in with customers from time to time, and I called this customer this week. He relayed this story, which I had not heard. It sounds like it’s been a win all the way around, and hopefully we can keep it this way. I then got to thinking of all of the conventions I’ve been to. Some of our best relationships and contacts are made in the taxi line, or the line waiting for a table at the restaurant or freewheeling it.

The thing is, you have to ask for the work. You may be the most well-connected individual in your line of business, but if you don’t take the time to seek out opportunities, they will rarely fall in your lap. Some of us keep our radar up, and some of us never turn the radar on. I have faith in our rainmakers and I am always offering to mentor the next generation. This kind of entrepreneurial drive may not come naturally to all (a little dna for this helps), but learning how to use it makes you an invaluable asset and moreover, a friend. I think most will agree that making long term friends in this process is pretty nice way to go through life.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.