Why are people confused?
What many people are confused about is when we use the term ‘partner or partnering’ in our marketing messages. Some people don’t really understand what we mean when we use the term in relation to our administrative support services. A few years ago someone stated that in their view it was detrimental to our marketing efforts and that all of our clients would be indignant and find the term repellent. But why should they think that? We are not talking about a business partnership in the legal sense of things, after all.
A term often used in our industry.
We use the term ‘partnering’ to convey the deeply collaborative and ongoing relationship that we offer and seek to establish with our prospective clients. It is also used to graciously make the point that we are not their employees or subservient, menial labourers. We are, in fact, a business that provides services by engaging our specific expertise. This is a business-to-business relationship of equals working in a collaborative partnership. We are actually talking about a few things when we use the term ‘partnering’. There are many that don’t understand why a partnering relationship is actually beneficial, valuable or useful to them.
The benefit and value of partnering.
Partnering is the only way to get to really know and understand a client and his/her business at a deeper level. The main benefit, of course, is by having a mutual understanding. In actually knowing who they are and how they think. How they may like things done, what their frustrations may be and what challenges they may have. What their work style is, and what their bigger picture is including their goals and aspirations are. In short, the benefit and value we refer to is a specific fit and chemistry. Descriptively to the personal, one-on-one, ongoing relationship between two people. This is as opposed to an occasional and impersonal relationship. Where the work is a one-off or a sporadic series of transactions without any deeper relationship than that.
It’s only in that kind of personal, ongoing relationship that an administrative partner can learn to anticipate his/her client’s needs in a variety of ways. As they get to know each other more and more, an administrative partner can work and think more independently. Especially on behalf of his/her client and complete any work with that “big picture” context and understanding of the client’s business in mind.
The client then doesn’t have to repeat him/herself over and over to every different person and can feel more confident and at ease in letting go and allowing things to get done on his/her behalf. This makes the client’s life infinitely easier, and he/she has more time to focus on other things. By investing in the relationship for the long-term, clients eventually get someone who is always working in a way that supports their needs. Supports their interests, their ways and with their objectives in mind, just as the client would themselves.
‘Partnering’ is not a new concept after all.
That is why it is always our job to help our potential clients understand the benefits of how our ‘partnering’ and working together in the long-term. Be it continuous, not transactional, a relationship can be tremendously valuable to them. Administrative support is an inherently personal service with an ongoing relationship. If we choose to work with a client, it is because we feel a good rapport with him/her. We find their business and work interesting. Our support and expertise should complement our clients business and instil value. Therefore, the term “partner” fits perfectly with that message.
That being said, we should not expect that clients already know and understand this. They may just think, ‘I only need someone who will do what I want when I tell them to do it’. However, that is not what we are about and that is not what we know an administrative partner to be. With that in mind, we also expect that our clients should treat us with as much regard, professional courtesy and respect as we extend to them. We are seasoned professionals after all. With considerable skill sets and have a myriad of experience and knowledge. We are not in business to just take orders mindlessly. As a business, we become part of our clients trusted panel of professional advisors, and we are always thinking on their behalf. We want to work with clients who value and desire those qualities.
Collaborating and ‘partnering’ will lead to success.
As someone who is able to get to know a client’s business nearly as well as they do themselves. By virtue of that deeper, ongoing relationship, an administrative partner can be immensely helpful. They are valuable to the client by being able to see and bring attention to those things which the client might not know or see from their own perspective. So the more you develop and lead the client through your own processes. The more you define the roles and functions you can take on for them and the easier you make it for them to see and understand that value. As time passes the one-on-one ‘partner’ relationship work together, the more knowledge and understanding will grow. Therefore the easier it is to work and do more together. It will free up more of the clients time because they do not have to oversee and micro-manage everything themselves.