When I was a kid, my mom had her own business. It was a coffee shop and art gallery. I was 11 years old when my sister and I started working for her. My grandfather, a retired small business owner himself, and accountant, did our books and sometimes dispensed wise words to live by.
My mom wanted to sell coffee, and the services that are naturally attached to coffee, but she also wanted to build relationships. We lived in a small town in northern Wisconsin at the time, and we wouldn’t have been able to survive without our “regulars”. We knew their names and their orders by heart, down to the minute details. My mom often knew all about their family or work life, too. She knew who came in because they loved our lunch offerings versus those who came in because it was simply conveniently located near their places of business. She knew who would be sitting down and camped out at a table for hours versus those who never sat, always getting their coffee “to-go”.
Though my mom sold the coffee shop after a few years of investing her blood, sweat and tears (and some of ours, too), to this day she still maintains relationships built from those days at her coffee shop. Some of her best customers then became her best friends.
So, when I started working at bb7 over three years ago, and started to learn the business, I completely understood why a big goal of bb7’s then and now, was becoming a partner to our clients, not being thought of as a vendor.
Why partner? What is a partner in the product development world? To understand why we at bb7 cringe when someone refers to us as a vendor, let’s dive into the definitions of partner versus vendor.
Partner per Google:
“…people engaged together in the same activity.” (Google Dictionary)
“a person who does or shares something with another.” (Merriam-Webster)
“someone who plays with another person on the same side in a game of tennis…” (Merriam-Webster)
Okay, and now, vendor as defined by Dictionary.com:
“a person or agency that sells.”
It’s as simple as that.
A partner, like bb7, cares about the results. A partner gets invested and digs in deep to fully understand the business. A partner makes transactions seamless for everyone, so all parties get up to speed quickly and feel like they are part of the same team. A partner is accessible and prioritizes you. A partner pivots when you pivot. A partner builds a relationship of trust and reliability.
All these things that we do as a partner, result in exceptional attention to detail and quality of work, and ultimately leads to our ability to provide insights that make better products or services, both for the end-user of the product or service, and in the financial sense for our partners.
We have many vendors we value, and we rely upon, and we are not trying to say vendor is a dirty word. We are simply saying we do not identify as “vendor”, so please think of us as your trusted partner.
You see, we become one and the same with our clients.
We simply are your partner.