My life has been enriched and blessed with many friends. I’ve had the great pleasure of making friends with prospects, customers, referrals, vendors, manufacturers, business owners, folks in trade organizations, in volunteer organizations, media, employees and even my lawyers. Many of these friendships took root because of common interests, common needs and even common problems. Mostly, these friendships happened when trust, support and validation took place at a high level. We simply came to feel safe and comfortable with each other. We had each other’s back. Sometimes it took a short time but sometimes it took a long time. Sometimes making friends was easy and sometimes it was harder.
The one thing I’ve learned in friendship, is that above all I must be myself, without fakeness or self-gain, and I must be considerate and understanding. The relationship must always be a two-way street. As friends, we celebrated small triumphs and were there in time of need for each other. As friends, we looked for ways to help each other. And as friends, we were always honest with each other.
One prospect became a friend and for many years supplied us with pens, rulers, trinkets and give-a-away items. He never did purchase windows from us after we gave him a quote, but he gave me really good pricing on the things I needed and he told everyone about us.
Customers have become friends and invited us to their family gatherings throughout the years. Several customers who are “car guys” have worked with Ben on cars that Ben was restoring. Other customers have worked our trade show displays as an “Ask the Customer” to share their experience with prospects who have questions.
One customer invited us to be the evening sponsor of the Muskego Waterbugs. They are a water ski team that performs weekly on Little Muskego Lake. We never heard of the Muskego Waterbugs and had no idea what to expect. As we set up a table top with trinkets and literature, we were welcomed with open arms. Several people watching the event came over to say they were past customers and loved our windows and our company. It was a heartwarming evening. This group of 60 some water skiers is an unknown jewel in the community. It was truly remarkable to watch them perform. Our customer shared us with his community of friends so we made many more friends.
Several days later, this customer was our guest on our WISN 1130 Saturday Remodeling Show. He shared his experience with purchasing windows from us for two different houses. He explained how his research on the window products helped him decide the right thing. He shared why he chose our company over others. He shared about our professionalism and our friendly attitude. He said he could trust us.
Many of our manufacturer’s reps have become friends. One lived in the area and each summer we spent one day with him and his wife at his lake front home. He took us out on his boat and we grilled out and played yard games. We did this for several summers. Other reps have taken us to sports games or special dinners. We’ve shared life together and encouraged each other in the little things. The greatest joy was knowing that they were there for me if a customer had a problem. It wasn’t just a job for them. We had a genuine friendship and they were interested in seeing us be successful.
I’ve met many great people in various organizations. Each had something to share that I could learn from and help me grow as a person. Many have had clearer perspectives on certain situations than I did at the moment because they weren’t attached to it as I was. Many have given advice and encouragement. Many have just been plain fun to be around.
Employees have been friends as well. I’ve sat with many in the hospital while their loved one was in the emergency room or very sick. Several of them have spent time with me when I was in the hospital for a surgery. We’ve even enjoyed their friendship outside of work and even after they left employment here.
The greatest reward in all of my friendships has been to know that happiness increases the more you spread it around. I want to be the one to bring sunshine to the lives of others – in our every interaction. When I can do this for a customer, I’ve been especially blessed because that is my goal. Treat my customers as friends and nurture the relationship.