The Importance of Client-Contractor Relationships
by Yanina Rosario | April 16, 2019
Many business owners may think they know their clients well after doing a standard Clients Needs Analysis or a Marketing Mix Analysis, but how much insight do these types of evaluations actually offer?
I recently attended a special presentation for prime and sub-contractors at a local hospital. The seminar focused on the importance of really knowing who the contractors are. Listening to the representatives talk about who they are, what they believe in and what their special needs are, got me thinking about the importance of really knowing your client.
The speeches repeatedly emphasized that sub-contractor employees and prime contractor employees are essentially an extension of the hospital’s team. Therefore, they will all be held to the same high standards of work and performance expected of the medical and administrative staff. Because hospitals run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, these contractors should expect to be on call 24/7 as well. They should always consider the following:
- Is there a special clearance needed to access the property at any time of the day?
- When is your work expected to take place on a 24/7 site? Can you meet this expectation?
- Do you know if you can store equipment and materials on-site?
- Is there an on-site location for you to dispose equipment and materials?
- Will you need to use different materials in order to perform in a hospital environment?
- Are there special processes you must follow in a hospital environment?
These are important questions that may not be addressed in the Request for Proposals (RFP) or pre-bid meetings. Yet, the contractor must be fully aware, as any limitations or special expectations may represent additional costs to the business and this expense must be included in the project budget.
How does this apply to you and your approach with clients? As a supplier to your industry, you are an extension of that business’ team. This is where expectations, perhaps unwritten expectations, come into play and your experience can make a difference. Consider the following:
- Have you worked in a similar environment before?
- Do you have a good relationship with the prime contractor and the project manager?
- Do you feel comfortable asking questions and sharing concerns?
- Is your team the correct team to perform this work because they have experience or know how to follow strict rules?
- Does the prime contractor provide sub-contractor training to help understand the environment and culture of the industry?
- Do their core values match your core values?
Sticking with the hospital example, the representative said, “When you see patients and their families here, they may be having the worse day of their life.” You must always be aware of your surroundings and the people in them. This means that all vendors performing contracts, particularly in active hospital areas, must maintain the environment and patient culture the hospital has.
Really understanding your client is much more than winning a bid or getting on a vendor list. Take your time to learn what the people performance expectations are. Learn what the day to day is like and take a walk in their shoes. Building strong, open relationships and making your clients’ culture part of your own during the project, are important factors to successfully performing your work.
Associate Director, Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa
Specialty: Women/Minority/Veteran Certification
Yanina Rosario, Florida SBDC at USF associate director and certified business consultant, specializes in business certifications, business planning, and marketing. She oversees operations in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. Rosario’s expertise comes from more than 16 years of guiding pre-venture and well-established business owners through procurement, licensing, planning, marketing and financing, helping clients secure more than $3.2 million in small business loans. Rosario serves on the board of directors for the CareerSource Tampa Bay, is a member of the City of Tampa Equal Business Opportunity Advisory Committee, and the Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) planning committee. She manages the Florida SBDC at USF’s Emergency Bridge Loan Committee. Rosario obtained a bachelor degree in marketing from the University of Central Florida and a masters in management from the Florida Institute of Technology.