The Importance of Being a Trusted Advisor
By Chris Mauldin, Senior Operations Manager
Who enjoys buying a car? Visiting an auto mechanic? Calling a plumber? Anyone…Bueller? You may operate with caution when dealing with service-oriented activities like the ones I just listed. Why is that? What causes people to be turned off or at least wary of any of these instances? In most cases, it’s a lack of trust from the buyer to the seller. When the service provider has the actual best interests of the buyer at heart, it becomes a mutually beneficial transaction and may generate a long-term relationship instead of a one-time customer.
When you hire Firmatek, you’re not just buying a product. Of course, the service and numbers are important. That is the GOOD we provide and it is a given that we ensure those numbers are correct and stand behind them. But those are simply the basics of what we do. Being a trusted advisor is one of our core values and means more than merely providing accurate numbers and data. For us, we act as advisors when we actively police our own work and develop policies that prevent errors. We help our clients discover their errors and own up to ours, eliminating them when possible. It is critical to reach out to our clients and let them know when we mess up, how we are going to fix it, and how to prevent the mistake from occurring in the future. That is the SERVICE we provide. We provide confidence so our clients can make more informed decisions about their operations.
We work with our clients to confirm the accuracy of their data and welcome their questions when they have doubts. For example, a new area manager took over a railyard site last year. At this point, we were only doing stockpile inventories for them once or twice a year. The last few inventories we had done for them were reporting much less material than they had on their books — roughly 30 percent less. This equated to a very large dollar amount that they had to write off the books every time we came out to measure. At first, they assumed the inventories were conducted incorrectly. So we spent three months working through this by having meetings and webinars with different departments to review data and give them confidence that our measurement was correct. They finally realized the inventory surveys were accurate. They now know they can continue using our numbers as a foundation to look at other areas of their operations, like accounting and reporting, to figure out why they were over reporting inventory or under reporting sales. Because we proved to be trusted advisors, we’re now doing quarterly inventory surveys so they have data more frequently to help identify and solve issues before they get larger.
It’s never easy to admit a mistake, especially knowing that it may cost you business. But when you sit back and think about if that principle was applied to your vehicle, or a home repair, or really any other situation in which you were the buyer, of course you would rather know and deal with the headache than be oblivious to the truth.
Equally as difficult as owning up to your own mistakes, being confident enough in yourself and your work to tell a client when they are wrong instills a different kind of trust. Giving someone a hard truth inspires trust that you are going to deliver for them regardless of the cost to yourself. The number of companies who have left us for other providers and returned for our integrity is a testament to the work that we do here and I’m extremely proud of it.
Honesty is the best policy. It’s not just a catchy saying. It’s as true at home as it is in the office; and we really take that to heart here. Being a trusted advisor is one of our core values and we hope that when you need someone you can trust, you call us first.