When an opportunity arises to collaborate, it's tempting to jump on it. However, if you move too fast, you may not have time to really get to know your new business partners, says Jim Hoffman, director of the Co-Ventures program of Affiliated Distributors, in Collaboration Case Study: Sharing Branches, Best Practices. And without taking time to build trust, your opportunity may turn into a disaster.
In 2006, Hoffman helped develop the collaboration between three companies in Pennsylvania: Schaedler Yesco, APR and Industrial Piping Systems. The biggest challenge was getting everyone to slow down, Hoffman says. “If you rush into it, I wouldn’t be surprised if you have a bad result.”
A business relationship should be approached in much the same way a person would approach a romantic relationship, he advises. Start slow by getting to know each other, he says, and build trust that they are as committed to mutual success as you are.
Without that trust, everyone will be making decisions based solely on what's best for them, says APR President Scott Weaver. "But if everyone makes decisions that way, it just doesn’t work,” he says. “The partnership will disappear as quickly as it began.”
Read more about distributor collaborations in the Dec. 10, 2012, issue of MDM Premium, featuring this case study and three others: the alliance between Labatt Food Service and Ace Mart, PM Industrial's local partnerships, and the creation of EDGE Investment Partners.