Year of the Relationship

Relationships are hard, and I didn’t realize until this year just how hard. And since we are on the cusp of the world opening up again, I am going to brand the rest of this year the “Year of the Relationship”.

Relationships that matter

That sub-head is a bit misleading in that it denotes there are any relationships that don’t matter.

They all do. Every one of them, and I am going to talk about them briefly here.

  • Personal relationships
    This one is the toughest for me lately, But there are bright spots and people who shine and come through, and other people who shrink to the occasion.

    How are yours?

    Most people I talk to will tell you their relationship with their significant other is at best…tepid. At worst, someone keeps a bag packed in the trunk just in case.

    If you run a business, you are under even more pressure because there is no steady paycheck, and money always always always seems to be at the root of most arguments couples have. And let’s face it, no matter how much we make, there is never enough, especially in these times.

    So, go into the rest of this year with a renewed interest in keeping your spouse up-to-date and in the loop as to how the business is going.

    It may not always be perfect, but knowing is always better than not knowing, because not knowing breeds resentment.

    Having an open-book policy with your spouse will make your life easier, and you just may get along a bit better.

  • Employee relationships

    If you have a team of people working with you, you fall into one of two camps; you either treat them as equals and look to draw the best out of each and hope to see them grow, which will help your business grow, or you treat them as employees, in that they have a job to do and you expect that job done since you are the one writing the checks.

    There are also pluses and minuses to each way of treating your employees, and this is not a post on employee motivation, just on how to relate to people in a way that works for you, because no matter what you do, you are always going to piss someone off, so it has to work for you first.

    Just know that even though it is an employer’s market out there, these people who you count on to help build your business have the ability to either work their butts off for you…even when you are not looking, or just muddle through their day getting the job done because you are giving them a paycheck.

    If you have a team of the formers, you are doing something right, if your team consists of mostly the latter, then we need to talk.

  • Vendor relationships
    I don’t have to tell you how important these are to keep up. Everything from better pricing to better product availability to preferential treatment is all the trappings of a solid vendor relationship…so work hard to grow these in the coming year!
  • Finally…customer relationships
    Guys and girls, repeat after me, the customer is always right. The customer is always right. The customer is always right.

    Know how I know? Because companies that put customers first succeed. Wal-Mart, Sam Walton in his day would have thrown himself down in front of a train to get a better deal for his customers, now they do $3 billion in sales in one day.

    And if you have another way, only until you are knocking down those types of dollars am I even going to consider listening, so keep it to yourself because I am putting my money on that simple yet effective philosophy.

    And the customer is always right comes in many forms and fashions depending on your vertical. If you are a painter and they wanted eggshell and it doesn’t look like eggshell, you better make it friggin’ eggshell.

    If you build decks and the screws are coming up 6 months from now, get your butt over there and make Mrs. Smith happy.

    Swallow some pride and take the short-term hit to keep your good name in the marketplace good, because we have all seen what bad PR can do to companies, and since most of you trade on your own names just like I do, you fight like hell to protect it from all enemies, foreign and domestic!

In the end, it all comes down to relationships

Relationships are living, breathing entities that take on a life of their own. Ever wonder why you get along with someone right off the bat, yet can’t stand another person for no reason at all?

That is because there is a deep-rooted, fundamental approach we all have inside of us that wants to be liked, needed, loved, understood, and respected. And the more of those feelings we can adopt as well as convey to your loved ones, employees, vendors, and customers, the better year we will all have!

Darren Slaughter is the founder and president of, a digital agency focusing on website design, social media management, and content creation for home improvement contractors.