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How to build trust in business

John Dammone, life-long friend and owner of Salvo’s Restaurant, recently appointed BHP Chartered Accountants as his restaurant’s accountants and tax advisers. Having known John since school, our new business relationship has prompted me to reflect on the importance of trust in business.

Using my relationship with John as an example, here are my top five tips for building a strong relationship to ensure business success.

Know your stuff

Technical competence and know-how is imperative; with experience and expertise in your given field, you will genuinely be able to help your clients. This is something that it’s impossible to fake.

John recently said that BHPs’ experience of working with family businesses and SMEs sets us apart from other firms and that he was impressed by how we really get under the skin of an organisation in order to deliver constructive advice. I see that as testimony to our firm’s sound knowledge in business finance.

Likewise, Salvo’s Restaurant has demonstrated, over the years, a genuine authenticity to its Italian routes and a knowledge of Italian produce and cooking second to none in Leeds.

Collaborate and share goals

Be clear about what you want to achieve. At the outset of any job, agree what is required of each party, determine timescales and stick to them. If things change, it is important you feel able to discuss what has changed and why, then agree to a justified variation on the original plan.

When pitching to become Salvo’s advisers, we were very clear about what we believed we could assist them with and we have agreed a plan for what we will be doing for the next 12 months.  Of course it is important to have flexibility in that plan to allow for changing circumstances.

Be transparent

You must always be accountable for your actions and clear about what you are doing. This ensures everybody stays happy and prevents unwanted surprises. Talking is one of the best tools for ensuring transparency – now I call John regularly, not just to book a table in the award winning restaurant, but also because I want to keep him the loop.

Offer genuine support for one another

You must genuinely have your client’s interests at heart. If not, it won’t work. You need to listen to and understand your clients, as this is the only way you can really know what support they need. Also, your clients must support you too. Feedback is important for development, so I will be encouraging John to keep me up to speed with how he feels Salvo’s is being looked after, and asking him to give us tips on how we can improve.  This is something close to John’s heart – the restaurant encourages its clientele to give timely feedback on their experience in the restaurant and to keep in touch through social media.

Remember that relationships are for the long term

You should strive for business relationships to last a lifetime. The key to this is doing right by each other.

John and I are both from the Headingley area of Leeds and went to St Thomas Aquinas Grammar School together. Since then, we have followed very different career paths. John’s father, Salvo Dammone, set up Salvo’s restaurant in 1976.  I remember queuing with my family to get in to the best Italian restaurant in Leeds back in the 1970’s.  At school we shared a love of music; John played the guitar and I played the drums.  I don’t know if John got his musical talents from his Uncle who was famous for singing in the restaurant whilst he made the pizza bases!  We’ve stayed in touch all this time – not with the deliberate intention of doing business, but that’s a happy by-product of BHP’s expertise meeting Salvo’s needs.

I am excited that my relationship with John has been able to develop in a way which will see us be not just friends, but business associates, for years to come.

Mikej Blog sign off 2016