Hoodies & Partnerships: Perfect Together
The past few weeks at PAVERART kind of feel like "this is your life" in small business. I always re-play them on the NJ Turnpike at 4:30 am when its just me, my car on auto pilot and PAVERART. In those weeks we:
Talked to numerous clients, Landscape Architects, Contractors, Suppliers about PAVERART, their challenges, ideas and opportunities.
Encountered numerous problems, each had a degree of urgency and real need for quick solutions
Worked on a couple "big ideas" that can really change the future of our business for the better, ideas that (if we let them) could consume a massive amount of time, money and energy. What I call "good challenges."
Hoodies: The Secret Weapon
First, while chatting with the team in Brian's office yesterday, I looked through at the shop and saw one of our guys (Nick) working away. With a hoodie on. And I'm talking to John & Brian. Hoodies. And I look down at my stained/dirty sweat jacket. Hoodie. I look over at Mike's jacket.......you guessed it. Hoodie.
So what to do when you notice something somewhat unusual? SELFIE! Capture the moment!
I love this picture. There is just something about a business that prides itself on ripped jeans and the hoodie. I've worked in businesses that are very formal (way back in late '90's I remember daily shirt & tie, yuck!) and businesses like ours. I'll take ours any day. There's something special when things like the type of shirt/attire simply do not matter.
At PAVERART, it's the ART that matters. The Team matters. The Clients matter. Our Relationships matter. All take hard work. All take investment. All take time.
Suppliers or Partners?
At PAVERART, like all businesses we have a list of vendors/suppliers we transact with. We need things, suppliers provide them. We prefer long term relationships, great service and fair prices.
You know what we prefer even more?
Every business is well served to develop something deeper than suppliers you simply transact with:
Companies (or people) with a DEEP, VESTED interest in each other's success and challenges. It takes hard work to develop these kinds of relationships.
We have done business with a number of companies throughout the country, and we tell people:
"PAVERART is open for business!"
Like many companies, we aspire to grow and build on our 18 year legacy of beautifying the world of hardscaping. That means we need to strengthen all of our existing relationships, and create new ones where there is a mutual fit and PAVERART and a new partner can win. All new relationships start with a first conversation.
Partners are not just people you do business with (outside your 4 walls), it's the people that work INSIDE of the business ("employees"). Not all employees will be this vested, nor will all suppliers. But if you have aspirations of growth, this level of mutual engagement HAS to be the goal for this to be more pervasive today and tomorrow vs. yesterday.
Back to the week.....
Coming into the shop this week I have a hardscaping catalogue on my desk, hand delivered from Bill our salesman from EP Henry. I always appreciate that and don't take for granted an investment a company makes in their catalog. I sat down to flip through it, about to do the customary 60 second scan. 30 minutes later I'm still pouring through it. Of course a smile comes across my face when I see a simple PAVERART Monogram inlay.
I ask Mike, what he thought.
"18 years I've seen ever single EP Henry Catalog. By far this is the best one." Mike's a co-founder and been here since 18 months BEFORE PAVERART came to the world. When he says something like that, I listen closely.
I told him to check out EP Henry's Instagram video "down on the concrete farm." That also held our attention for the full 5 minutes. When things break through our consciousness in a noisy world, I take notice.
The EP Henry marketing team is what I like to call "Stealth." Young, entrepreneurial and seems to have license to create from the top level in the company. Sometimes you just know when something is set-up for success. Marketing needs real freedom to be successful and full license to tell their story in an authentic way.
Let's face it, the world of concrete pavers can at times be "a sea of pavers." That's why PAVERART designs have a place in the world. And STORIES also break through the sea of pavers. Stories = marketing.
Then I start reviewing emails. Reviewing a number of communications and am struck by a chain of communication led by Bill (EP Henry) and various members of our team on it. We are all collaborating on the everyday challenges of working through issues. Multiple people, companies collaborating on a topic and figuring out how to get better.
Mike described this well: "Herding cats."
I agreed. I commented that I was impressed at Bill's ability and responsiveness in this area. The profession of "sales" is often misunderstood. The mark of a sales pro extends beyond persuasion.
Sales = Problem Solving + Adding Value.
Partnerships start from a place that feels like:
"What are your Strengths, Opportunities and Assets, and how does that overlap with mine? Are there ways we can work TOGETHER, pull all the needed people in and create a 1+1=3 scenario?"
Companies get to partnership levels in a number of different ways. But they need to make it intentional and see if the other side wants to move beyond simply transacting, buying and selling.
That's why I like the symbolism of the ripped jeans and hoodie. It's raw. It's not fancy. It's not polished. What you see is what you get, no wondering where you stand.
In the world of building relationships, that fancy world "authenticity" matters. Are you dealing with a company/person that's real? That does what they say they will do? If yes, you have a good starting point.
Hoodies and Partnerships. Perfect together.
PS- Take a look at a custom PAVERART design: "Il Fiore Farfalla"
Italian Translation: The Butterfly Flower.
Italian Translation: The Butterfly Flower, the perfect name.
Factoid? This design happens to share the name with a friend of PAVERART of 15 years, who just so happens to work at a company called EP Henry.