How Being the Good Kids in the Sandbox Ensures Your Business Success

If you’re a Wall Street and Gordon Gecko fan, you’ll remember one of his famous quotes: “The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed Greed clarifies, slices and captures the essence of the evolutionary mind. While that may be true, for some it also pays to be nice in business. For me, I’ve found that kindness is good, kindness is right, and kindness works. If you’re looking to grow your customer base and build loyalty, work to create a culture that internally and externally exemplifies “being the good kids in the sandbox.”

In my personal experience, being the good kids not only helps your business get repeat and referring customers, but also helps you sleep at night and feel good about yourself. Here are three things my company does to play well with others.

1) Take care of your team.

Building a good reputation in your industry starts with taking care of your team. A good customer experience is much easier when you have a good employee experience. Your business can’t take care of clients and customers if the people who work in your office don’t feel your love.

At my company, we make the team feel included by giving everyone a voice in decision-making. We have found that if employees feel heard and included, they will feel more invested in the organization. Research confirms this. A Deloitte survey 2021 showed that millennials are 85% more likely to feel engaged when working in an inclusive company.

In addition, my company takes care of the team by focusing on their physical and mental health. Each employee has a wellness plan that allows them to exercise or take classes in the areas they desire. This helps prevent employee burnout, so everyone can be at their best.

2) Make and keep friends.

You can view your competitors as potential enemies or potential allies. I prefer allies. One of the ways my company has succeeded in a crowded event industry (ie, the keynote) is to make and keep friends among competitors. Instead of seeing other speakers bureaus as enemies, my company treats competitors as potential collaborators.

To make and keep friends, my company instituted a very unique and unprecedented co-brokerage agreement with other speaker bureaus that allowed everyone to share exclusive speakers and benefit financially. We’ve flipped the model and shared more of our agency fees with the other bureaus (the exact opposite of “old-school” speaker bureaus). Other offices generally do not allow anyone else to market their speakers, and they allow a small agency fee for the other office, when one of their speakers is booked.

For example, if we wanted to book a speaker from another office, it was a small agency fee and frankly, no incentive to book their speakers. Of course, we’d still recommend these speakers if they were the perfect fit for our customer – and that’s another example of being the good kids in the sandbox.

With our new model, we’ve made it possible for other bureaus to market our exclusive speakers AND they get the lion’s share of agency fees. It is a multi-winner and we have done very well with this model. As you can imagine, this was really about some of the “old guard” offices. We even got a couple of nasty emails saying our template didn’t work. We practically smiled, thanked them for their advice, and still showed kindness to keep the doors open. By changing this model and remaining friends with other speaker bureaus in our industry, we have been able to grow and prosper.

I know of many service industries that do the same thing. That’s what I call “coopetition,” which is cooperating with your competitors for the greater good. During the pandemic, we have seen many stories of businesses helping each other. For example, restaurants and healthcare facilities share supplies with each other when they run out of resources. It’s the right thing to do and let’s face it, you never know when you’ll need help, so helping others is also strategic.

3) Handle turbulent situations with grace

No one ever said being a good boy was easy. Bad things happen, and when they do, you want to handle turbulent situations with grace. At my company, there are times when guest speakers we book for events don’t turn out as planned, get sick, or have travel issues. In order to maintain a client relationship with that event planner or convention, we work things out by finding a replacement speaker and making sure the event runs smoothly.

Our approach is to be responsible, honest and consider a long-term relationship. You could lose fees this month and also gain a lifetime customer. Plus, handling situations with grace will turn your detractors into fans. Dissatisfied customers might tell a handful of people to stay away from your business. However, if you’re solving a problem for a client, customer, or employee, they’ll tell everyone how great you are.

I have worked in several companies during my life. Some did well and some did poorly. The companies that have achieved the best results are working hard to be the good children of the sandbox. If you do your best to treat your employees well, befriend your industry partners, and handle bad situations with grace, your business will grow and you will sleep at night. Not a bad deal. My Nonno called it, “Doing Good by Doing Good” and we’re doing pretty well and pretty well.

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