Toronto welcomed summer with a strike by city employees; an inconvenience at the worst of times, but an added bonus this time of year as two of the groups manning the picket lines are garbage men and the people who normally work the outdoor pools. “Hot time summer in the city”
While I could care less about the strike, (my municipality is not affected), but the chatter it brings is great entertainment. One line of argument the anti-strike crowd raises is that given the current economy, a rise in job losses, the strikers should count their blessings and be happy they have jobs. “Imagine the goodwill the unions could build by just accepting the proposal the city is offering.”
On the other side, the union is saying that they are not demanding anything new, just trying to hang on to what they have, the city should not be trying to claw back things that were granted in previous agreements. Here it comes: the city should show good will and leave well enough alone.
Again, I could care less, and firmly believe each side would throw the other under the bus (not on strike) for a nickel if the opportunity presented itself. But it is interesting to see how both sides hold up the badge of goodwill to rationalize their narrow self centeredness.
Similar dramas are unfolding between buyers and sellers all over. Buyers are facing challenging times are looking to sellers to help them through. Sellers are looking for buyer loyalty, perhaps something as simple as not being shopped and nickeled and dimed on every deal. In other words, both (with varying degrees of sincerity) are looking to develop or leverage goodwill.
Goodwill is something sellers should always be working on, good times or bad. But the current environment offers a particularly opportunity to work with clients to establish goodwill. On the one hand they have done business with you, and it is an opportunity to solidify relationships and be in a position to benefit when things turn up.
But as with the strikers, this needs to be cut both ways. I don’t blame sellers for being nervous about making concessions. There is a minority of buyers who ruin the whole concept, taking advantage of sellers.
This is a great time for sellers and buyers to build goodwill, but as with most things worth while it takes works, and more importantly, trust. It takes work to overcome instincts, and work towards a mutually beneficial relationship. Each party needs to see past pressures of their roles; the buyer trying to deliver the greatest value at the most affordable cost; the seller tasked with maximizing top line and bottom line.
Buyers like the city, have to avoid the temptation of letting the seller know and feel the pain of competition. Sellers need to understand that investing ion the right relationship now can pay long term dividends.
Also remember that goodwill need not come in the form of a discount, it could be terms, introduction to alternative processes or suppliers, it is improving the current state, which is more than just piece. See How Important Is Price?
Lastly, just like on the financial statements, goodwill gets written off over time, so it is something that has to be constantly replenished, needs to be worked on all the time by all parties.
What’s in Your Pipeline?