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Why we don’t work with Everyone, and why it’s OK.

Biz 101, Culture, Strategy

Whenever we meet with a new, or soon to be new clients, we make a point of letting them know what our values are. We can very quickly tell if we will be a good fit for each other based on shared values, which sets the tone for what our relationship will be like. I read a book once called Be Great by Peter Thomas. I highly recommend you read it to understand the importance of establishing values, and putting them in an intentional order.

In our business, we have 3 core guiding values that guide our decisions. Our values tell us not only who we should work with, but who we shouldn’t work with.

The following are our values, and in telling you about them,  I’ll share a few stories while I’m at it. 

Value 1: Our Team

Without this team, Helium doesn’t exist. Without internal customer service to our team, we cannot set a guiding example for how external customer service should look within our brand.

Without consistent personal and professional development, we fall behind as an agency. If we expect our team to continually learn and develop, we as leadership must facilitate and support this, so… first thing Monday morning, before anyone works on client projects, we work on ourselves. We sharpen existing skills, learn new ones, and stay on top of what’s new in our ever-changing industry. By focusing on personal development, we’ve added new revenue streams to our business, and really discovered our hedgehog concept (taken from Jim Collins Good to Great).

venn diagram

Value 2: Our Clients

We look after our team, and our team looks after our clients. 

It’s through the skills of the team that our clients are served. Serving our clients with excellence is something we work towards every day. Some days we miss, however because we’ve built great relationships and do whatever it takes to make our clients happy, those missteps are worked through. First time clients only become second time, and ongoing clients because they feel respected and they have built trust with us. Trust is earned, not bought.

Value 3: Our Profits

When our team is cared for, and they are in turn caring for our clients, those clients are happy to pay for quality work that contributes to their success.

We need to make money pay our team, to stay in business, and to continue providing service to our clients. Anyone in business knows you need profits, and we believe that when quality people are doing quality work for likeminded clients, the bills (and profits) are looked after. As part of this, we need to be conscious of value and bill accordingly. 

Undervaluing our work of the skills of our team may serve a lower budget, but goes against our first value, which is why we often weigh the pros and cons of projects.  RFP’s (Request for Proposals) are often a race to the lowest dollar bid, and at times allow for less expertise to be exercised, so there are few we choose to participate in so that our team knows we will not undercut the value of their skills. 

These values are in this order for a reason. 

If we have a client (we did have this client) that we’ve worked with for some time,  and are working on projects with, but they call with aggressive or disrespectful vocabulary, we won’t hesitate to assess the relationship, and when needed, fire them. We are open to and understand frustrating situations, feedback and even missed communication, but when it’s done with disrespect, leadership must step in and assess whether it is in the team’s best interest to continue with the client. This is not (ever) an easy decision, but our value system is in place to helps us quickly make otherwise difficult decisions.

One of the biggest things we can do with this value system is to choose who we won’t work with. As I mentioned early on, we let people know pretty quick what our values are. If it looks like they’re uninterested, or this doesn’t jam with them, that’s a red flag we can’t ignore. At times, it can be the values of a company, and in other situations a contact, but there are relationships that at times simply will not lead to success.

We are not the only firm of our kind, but we believe that if we ‘stay in our lane’, the clients that value our approach will achieve success with us, and those that do not, will achieve success with others.  We can all win with the clients that belong with us, which is why we consider other firms in our area our business neighbours, not competitors. 

If you have difficult decisions to make in your organization, both positive and negative, having a set of values will make your life easier, and your decisions more consistent.