Can you do good business when you have a bad relationship?


No quarter given ..

There is no point taking that phone call and even trying to sort anything out.

You may have read a previous blog post of mine titled “Are you doing bad business?“, which basically looked at business that is not good because something isn’t right between you and the supplier or the customer.

I gave a few examples where we ended up doing what I call “bad business” and at the heart of each of these there was a poor relationship between both parties.

One of the examples was a supplier of ours who I just hated dealing with because of their attitude towards us. I felt they never had any respect for us, their manner was always poor and there was no appreciation of the business that we brought them.

I always disliked dealing with them on the phone or by email as I found them to be unpleasant but on the flip side they were quite a reliable supplier who offered good products at competitive prices, so we continued dealing with them.

In truth I resented every order we sent them and every cheque we paid them but despite my best efforts I struggled to get my guys to find an alternative supplier. I found myself living with this poor business relationship and accepting that sometimes maybe it is not important to “like” or respect who you deal with as long as they deliver the goods – isn’t that the most important thing?

After all it’s probably unnatural and quite unrealistic to like everyone you deal with but given a choice (where you have one) it is clearly better when there is a good relationship. Right?

I guess this scenario is fine as long as the relationship is not put under pressure or tested in any way.

This week I had to deal with an issue that occurred with my “favourite” supplier. Something messed up on some work they did for us and cutting a long story short they were putting the blame on my guys and as a result wanted us to cough up 100% of the cost of this unusable job.

We do a lot of work with this crew (incredibly a relationship going back nearly 8 years) and even if we were to blame for the error I would have expected some level of compromise or willingness to come to some fair arrangement between both parties – I was shocked to hear my guys struggle on the phone with our supplier trying to resolve the issue.

They weren’t accepting any blame whatsoever and furthermore were most definitely entertaining no break or compromise with us – listening to conversation I knew this was not right.

I decided to jump in and investigate the “mistake” for myself and realised that the error was actually on their side. I’m not saying we never make mistakes because at times we do – mistakes can happen but it’s how you deal with them that is important.

If our relationship was good we would probably give each other a break, and arrive at some fair compromise. Both parties would want to address the issue and protect the good working arrangement for the future.

As it stands they say we are 100% to blame. For me they are 100% to blame.

In a normal scenario we could easily resolve this. In this scenario I know we won’t. Do I want to?…nah.

Bad business always bites you in the end!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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11 Responses to “Can you do good business when you have a bad relationship?”

  1. Bernard McNamee Says:

    I’ve had similar experiences several times with a couple of differences. I didn’t have a dispute over money but was frustrated with quality, service and attitude. Whatever straw broke the camel’s back and led me to look for an alternative was a happy day – I find a new supplier that beats the old one hands down. And I’m surprised, thrilled and thinking why didn’t I seek them out earlier!

  2. irishminx Says:

    All relationships & business relationships do depend on the quality of the relationship. Is it fair? Just? Equal and honest? If it is not, we tend to walk away………. and as it needs to be!

  3. shoppingworldirl Says:

    I had this situation with a company and with no joy from them I did pay the bill and never went to them again for anything, I also have never passed on any more work to them and when contacted by the said company for an order I told them politely I was ok and did not need anything, A client of mine whom I had passed onto them had dinner with me one evening and the company name came into the conversation when this client mentioned to me that she was going to ask them to do something for her but it was costly, she told me that they had become very abrupt so I pointed her in the direction of the new company I had found, She was surprised at this as she knew I had been with this company for years for almost everything and I told her that I had just found a better supplier who were easier to deal with, I did not run down the old company as its not my style but never went to them or recommended them to any new clients, after a year I realised nearly all the clients I had given the old company over the years had moved to the new company I was now dealing with, and just through my networking I was getting this new company some serious business just as I had the old company, This old company had not thought about that aspect of having me as a client when they decided to challenge me on the error that made me move from them and after a year they called me up to see how things were going with my business, I told them I was flying it! they then tried to see how they could go back to providing me with their services but I told them I was fine for the moment and If i needed them I would call them, I was polite and respectful as I didnt feel the need to be any other way after all I had the business going and they were just one notch in the rope that needed to be loosened so that I was not restraint. I did not want to put that negative energy into them as that would only affect me in my work if I was to focus on them any more than i needed too. I think they got the message that they messed up at a time when they really should have listened and tried to resolve the situation with one of their best customers. they lost and I kept going..
    I have a motto in life that i have always lived by, and that it is,
    ” Never spit down on the face that owns the ass you will be kissing on your way back up”

    Have a wonderful day Greg.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      What a great story – the cheque you paid them turned out to be very costly indeed!

      • shoppingworldirl Says:

        It sure did Greg, I find it is best not to make enemies but to always be open to conversation, I dont believe in closing doors for ever, the door to this old company is still open as I have remained polite to them but I dont see me going back or ever recommending them to anyone. Hope you get your situation resolved very soon, If there is any company I can pass onto you please do let me know, Always say, you never know who knows who in life x

      • Greg Canty Says:

        thanks a million

  4. The Virtual Office Says:

    What a great post Greg, personally I would be inclined to walk away, we had a similar issue with a supplier of ours, and, as in your situation they were insisting the fault was 100% ours, as I am very similar in my attitude as Shoppingworldirl I will never run down someone I have done business with, but i will never point people in their direction. As it turns out I did walk away, which forced me to really look for an alternative supplier, and guess what? I did, because I walked away from my previous supplier it forced me into looking for another supplier which I found soon enough, albeit it took me a while, I’m very happy with the new supplier and have built up a very good relationship with them, as have all my other clients as well. With regards to the old supplier, well, let’s just say they are no longer in business…. Says it all really!

  5. Ronan Leonard Says:

    I have a great book of quotes from graphic designers and one of my favourite 2 quotes is “never work with people who wouldn’t invite to your home for dinner”, I know it’s idealistic but good to aim for

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