Chances are, you’ve driven past a lemonade stand this summer. And chances are that if you stopped for a cool treat, you either had or made a new connection with the young entrepreneurs.
The smallest of small businesses, the lemonade stand serves as a microcosm for small business owners: Building relationships is an integral path to success.
Building those strong relationships isn’t always as easy as it seems. It takes time. It takes effort. And it takes passion.
Small Business Trends recently featured 11 ways to build strong and lasting business relationships, and Lynda.com, a partner of LinkedIn, took a look at how valuable the leaders of small businesses are in forging those relationships.
Strong relationships are at the heart of Chesapeake Bank.
“Without the relationships, we merely become transactional just waiting on the next deal. With a relationship, we are often a part of the next transaction, which benefits us and our customers. It’s mutually beneficial,” said Frank Bell, a senior vice president and head of Chesapeake Bank’s Richmond operations.
Added Leigh Houghland, a senior vice president and regional commercial loan officer at Chesapeake Bank: “Small business clients are the lifeblood of Chesapeake Bank. Small businesses have a need for a multitude of services that our bank can provide. Through a healthy partnership, both the business and the bank can grow together.”
Houghland says he tries to be a resource for business owners in good times, and more important, when times aren’t as good. Staying in touch with clients and being accessible have proven to be key in maintaining the relationships.
“Recently one of my clients wanted to meet,” Houghland said. “Her business has grown very quickly but she is frustrated that her income has not grown with the revenue. We were able to sit down together and come up with a plan to streamline some of the expenses in the business that had risen disproportionately with the increased revenue.”
Bell uses words like honesty, responsiveness and reliability when discussing building strong relationships.
“You build lasting relationships by becoming a steady business partner that your customers can count on,” Bell said. “Not every interaction results in a ‘sale,’ however every interaction can strengthen a relationship. Having your customer know that you are there for them when they need you is key.”