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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Choose Your Business Partners CarefullyI am a big fan of business partnerships. My mantra is, “Innovate where you differentiate, and partner with others for everything else.”

There’s an important caveat to this. Be sure to choose your partners carefully.

Think about the bad experiences you’ve had with a company. Were they the company’s fault? Or was a business partner somehow involved?

I bought a sofa online through a major retailer. The sofa is great, but the delivery company broke it during the move. I did not realize this until the next day when I sat on the sofa. Not a problem. Accidents happen. I called the retailer to get the broken sofa replaced. They were fast and responsive. Sadly the same could not be said for the delivery company. They did everything they could to make the replacement difficult. I was getting no satisfaction. The retailer said they were doing what they could (short of finding a new delivery company which would have been nice), but the delivery company kept dragging their feet. One of the world’s largest retailers was helpless. This was the worst delivery experience I’ve ever had. I will no longer buy anything from this retailer if it needs to be shipped by a freight company. Their partner ruined my perception of the company.

I started doing business with a new bank. The experience was good at first. But once their business partners got involved, everything turned sour. There were major delays on some important matters. Although the bank worked hard to solve the problem, but the partner was in charge. Things ground to halt and all the bank could do was offer excuses and say, “It’s not our fault. We can’t do anything about it.” Blaming the partner is not the solution. My relationship with this bank will not last long.

When it comes to choosing business partners, choose wisely. The quality of those partners will directly impact the perception of your business. Your brand and reputation are at stake. Although you want to trust your partners, you have to have safeguards in place to override their actions when it will impact the customer experience.

Customers don’t care if your partner is at fault. In the end they will blame you.

    • Stephen Shapiro says:

      Thanks Hugh. Yes, it is very important even in our business! As we license out content, use distribution partners, and hire PR firms, we need to recognize that others may not represent us the way we want to be portrayed.

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