You work hard at brand building, making sure that each and every customer interaction is perfect. You keep your social media pages and profiles consistent with your brand. Your marketing materials are top-notch because you invested in a graphic designer to give you a professional appearance. Yet there’s one thing you may not be thinking about that can undermine the strength of your brand and that’s the quality of partners you work with that may also come into contact with your customers.
If you’re a professional service provider and refer your client to a specialist because the work your client needs is not what you do, does that specialist reflect positively on your brand? Or does the specialist leave your client wondering why you are associating with this business.
If you’re an artist and have your client work with a framer and pick up their finished artwork at the framer rather than with you, do they get the same level of service and quality of experience as they would with you? Or is the framer not very personable or easy to work with?
If you’re a custom home builder and have a client with an air conditioning problem, does the HVAC person you send to your client’s home have the same level of professionalism as you? Or does he fail to show up on time and lack professionalism?
If you design custom window treatments for clients that need to be steamed before being hung, do you refer your clients to a dry cleaner who provides custom service like you? Or do you refer your clients to the cheapest place in town, creating a disconnect between the large investment they just made with you.
If you’re a photographer who works with high-end brides, do you refer your brides to the highest end bridesmaid gift provider or florist? Or do you work with middle of the road or lower cost providers? If you’re the hippest high school senior photographer in town and your work requires a large investment, you better not refer your clients to the low quality, mass market stores for their wardrobe.
Think hard about who you refer your clients to as they view these interactions as an extension of you, your brand and your business. Being from a small town, my mom used to tell me “you are judged by the company you keep.” Your clients may be judging you by the people you do business with. Fair or not, it’s true. Think about all the people your clients come into contact with as a result of doing business with you and make sure they aren’t tarnishing your brand in any way.