In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us to adapt – and quickly. Outside of the social distancing, hand sanitizer, and general anxiety the pandemic brought on, we all had to simultaneously challenge ourselves on what the continuation of our business looked like.
I doubt any business had a pandemic business strategy in place to handle what we were faced with, but one thing we did well was adjust. For us (and I am sure everyone else) it was a little rocky getting our new virtual footing, but we made it work. And not only for the few months we were in lockdown, but in the way we continue with our business.
This proverbial earthquake that shook our world created a lasting tsunami across all industries, with supply chain constraints, logistical challenges, and raw material availability. It has – and will continue to – take a significant amount of time to straighten out these issues.
While all of this was going on, I started to take notice of another shift that I was pleasantly surprised to see evolve: a heightened focus on business relationships with suppliers, customers, and yes – our competition.
It is very cliché to say “we are all in this together,” but as an industry we actually took that mentality seriously. I can now say we are closer than ever with our vendors, suppliers, logistical partners, customers, and counterparts in the automotive aftermarket. We have to be – with the lack of predictability, all of our businesses have to think strategically how we can help each other in order to thrive in today’s issue-ridden marketplace.
“We need to communicate better!”
This old saying can really be a thorn in my side as it’s so easy to say this without having any actual path to take action on. Communication means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so this blanket statement can’t really resonate with anyone. Does it mean a phone call every morning? Or a weekly email check-in? Or what about a virtual meeting every other week? It wasn’t until I started to take notice of our evolving business relationships that I was able to identify and define what true, better communication was for us and our business.
A few underlying themes stood out for me over the past three years, including:
- Customers expect companies to provide much more than just a product
- Suppliers (vendors, manufacturers, and distributors) are becoming more transparent with their customers and look for equitable support
- Your competitors aren’t always the enemy
How do these work with all our business relationships? I'll break it down over the next three weeks in this blog series. Stay tuned! Next week, we will start off by discussing the importance of Supplier Relationships.