Relationship building, no matter where in the world you are working, is one of the most important skills you can develop. Without excellent communication, trust and understanding you will find it difficult to move projects forward quickly and efficiently. As one of my former colleagues says, “you can only move at the speed of trust”.
I have worked in China for over 20 years, though the last 18 months have been particularly challenging because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions. However, because of my previous efforts to build and develop robust relationships with clients and manufacturers, it enabled me to grow and develop Elite Sourcing and Manufacturing. Much of the company’s success has been down to the fact that I developed and fostered good business relationships over the years and these are now incredibly valuable to me.
Strangely, as if it were a reminder of how important business relationships are, a factory Director who I last saw before the start of the pandemic in December 2019, called me this morning from China. He wanted to know how my business was progressing and offered me assistance in me with a few things as well as wanting to discuss a possible opportunity.
The below demonstrates why business owners, project managers and procurement specialists should spend time fostering good business relationships, with the aim of accelerating business growth.
FN Sharp – Supplier of Premium Kitchen Knives
The Task: To manage a design and development project for a range of premium kitchen knives for a US client, FN Sharp. This included material and supplier selection and production process verification and amendment where necessary.
The Solution: I was fortunate enough to work with the FN Sharp team when still based in Shanghai, in 2018. Due to my experience of the testing and design of blades, we were able to develop what I regard as some of the best kitchen knives in the market. Made using premium quality Japanese 67-layer Damascus steel together with a G10 handle, the knives are balanced and sculptured to make them a pleasure to use. The edge on the blade is not only sharp but it is also extremely durable, keeping their sharp cutting edge. To a degree, this is related to the quality of the steel but more importantly, and often not appreciated, the processing and temperatures generated during the grinding and polishing operations determine blade and edge performance.
Our Results: As a direct result of the FN Sharp project, and after building a strong and trusting business relationship with their team, the owners recently approached me, asking if I could help with their latest project, the distribution of their knives in Europe. Again, through my business links, Elite Sourcing and Manufacturing were able to help by involving their partner, Idekek. Working with Idetek we can investigate possible European distribution possibilities for both domestic and industrial equipment.
The team is now:
- Working directly with F.N. Sharp to introduce their products to distributors and buyers in the United Kingdom and Europe.
- Using their long-term industry experience and network to create conversations and meetings with potential distributors and sellers. The aim of which is to widen the exposure of F.N Sharp within Europe, as well as develop long-term partnerships with leading Kitchenware distributors.
- Work is also taking place to find the right pricing and marketing strategy for the company in the European and UK markets.
This project and the possible opportunities it could deliver is exciting for all concerned, FN Sharp, Elite Sourcing and Manufacturing, Idetek and the manufacturer of the knives. All four businesses could benefit significantly though it would not have been possible without the previous effort to building and maintain excellent business relationships with both clients and manufacturers.
In A Nutshell…
Here at ESM, we are committed to developing good client relationships, service, communication, and ultimately developing long-term business partnerships. We are open and willing to refer clients directly to our partners if we feel have not got the core skills and knowledge necessary to ensure the client will receive the best possible service available. On those occasions when a new supplier is needed, we put a great deal of effort into developing the supplier to meet both our needs and client expectations. Extra time spent at the front end of a project can save weeks and months further down the line, therefore developing the correct relationship, trust and respect is essential.
When clients and manufacturers from years past come knocking on our door, as they do, we know we have a great foundation to grow our business as well as assist clients in accelerating theirs.
If you would like to learn more about Elite Sourcing and Manufacturing and how we might be able to accelerate your projects and business, let’s talk.