Blog by: Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns.
Climb the Value Chain
One of the core tenets of U.S. Lawns is that it is hard to fire a business friend. We built the business around this concept, and it continues to serve us well.
How do we become a business friend instead of just a contractor? By offering more than what a customer will get from a contractor; information, understanding of their business, the ability to speak their language and then take it a step further by using their language instead of ours. It’s about being a partner, not a customer, and developing an economically interdependent relationship.
Economic Interdependence Defined
Economic interdependence is a complex relationship in which all parties are mutually dependent upon one another. This is an age-old concept that applies to all aspects of life, whether it be the mutual reliance between certain plants and animals, or the relationship between a grain farmer and a baker. The farmer specializes in growing and harvesting grains; the baker’s specialty is using those grains to make bread. Each party depends on the other, and the rewards associated with this interdependent relationship far outweigh the costs for both.
In the case of U.S. Lawns, this is why our clients outsource landscape maintenance instead of doing it in-house. We specialize in providing grounds care services to local businesses, allowing those local businesses to specialize in the service they deliver to the community. In the simplest terms, we all gain.
All Parties Must See Value
Economic interdependence requires that all parties see value. That means you must pull your own weight so others can rely on you. This applies to employers, employees, customers, vendors, and the community–each party.
Think about it this way. Is the customer just using you up? We’ve always said that the customer has to work to help you become more successful. If they don’t, it becomes apparent over time, and that’s a customer to jettison. The same thing goes with employees. If all you’re doing is using them up, that is not economic interdependence. That’s why this principle is so valuable, everybody benefits, and that’s the way a meaningful relationship works.
Get Behind Their Eyes
The only way to be a true partner and the first step to creating an economically interdependent relationship, is to get behind their eyes. Again, this applies to customers, employees, vendors…everyone. The best way to identify, understand, and fulfill their needs is to see things from their vantage point.
For instance, in working with the property manager of a multi-family dwelling; do you recognize that their push is to lease apartments right now and are you helping with that? Are you supporting their association just like they support yours? Are you a member of the Apartment Association, CAI, BOMA, etc.? Are you supporting them not just as a vendor, but are you supporting their community as well?
This goes back to U.S. Lawns’ mission to improve lives and improve communities, which can become incredibly complex.
Being Mutually Reliant Makes You Far Less Vulnerable
You should also know that it is vital to recognize and embrace this concept of economic interdependence, because if you don’t, you are vulnerable. Remember, it’s really easy to fire a contractor but it is hard to fire a business friend.
The difference here being that a contractor cuts grass; U.S. Lawns identifies the need of the individual customer and then we fill that need. If you don’t do that and you remain just a contractor, you’re vulnerable–to the client that can hire and fire you at will; with the employee who will have no loyalty to your brand; to the vendor who’ll treat you like a customer instead of a partner.
Great Success Comes From Economic Interdependence
In the end, it all comes down to trust, understanding and respect, which flows both ways. There is no top of the food chain in an interdependent relationship, everyone’s on the line because we’re all mutually dependent. If we each do our part, and recognize and embrace those of like minds, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.