The importance of travel in the scrap plastic business
Our Director of Business Operations, Vincent Fabrico, travels frequently to meet with our customers one on one, in person. Even with all of the great technology we have to communicate with business partners nowadays, we still feel like it’s important to spend some time together in person, especially in the scrap plastic trading business where personal relationships and trust are so important.
Here are a few reasons why we believe in traveling to meet in person with our customers and prospective trading partners – and why it’s worth the investment of time and resources to make it happen:
- Put a face with the name: Many of our trading partners might have found us through our website or social media presence, but might never have met us in person. Even with Skype and video chat technology, there’s something very powerful about meeting in person with your business partners. You get to know each other better, share dinner and drinks, perhaps play golf or go to a sports event, and generally get a sense for what the other people that you’re going to be trading with are like.
- Learn more about our partners: Travel and in-person meetings are an ideal way to develop a better understanding of our customers’ businesses and get to know their operations and challenges. If we have trading partners who are guaranteeing us a certain volume of scrap plastic materials, it helps us to be able to visit in person to see their storage sites and shipping arrangements.
- Build rapport: When we meet in person with our customers and trading partners, it’s another sign to them that we are “for real” and that we have an authentic, enduring presence in the scrap plastic industry. People can get a lot of information from visiting a website or talking on the phone, but there’s something special about meeting in person that shows commitment and credibility. In-person meetings can also lead to a deepening of the business relationship – a longer conversation with a better personal rapport could lead to both of you identifying other opportunities to work together and do more business together.
- Express gratitude for business: We like to show our customers that they matter enough to us that we are willing to invest some time and money in traveling to meet them. How much business do your biggest trading partners bring you each year? For example, if you have a trading partner that delivers $10,000 or $20,000 worth of revenue to your company, isn’t it worth investing $1,000 (or less) in traveling to spend a day meeting with them, just to remind them that you’re for real, and seeing how you can further help their company grow?
If you want to expand your business travel to build better relationships with your customers, here are a few ideas for how to do it right:
Plan your trips efficiently. Try to economize on the cost of airfare and hotels by planning to meet with multiple clients and prospects on each trip. Or if you’re going to attend a scrap plastic industry trade show, look for opportunities to meet with clients in person at the show, and plan a few side trips to visit other customers located in the area.
Entertain your clients. Take your customers out for a night on the town. Get creative (but not “too creative”) by finding out more about what they like to do for fun, which places they love to go for dinner and drinks, and make it personal and special for them, to show that you care and want to recognize them for their individual interests and personality.
Follow up on the in-person visit. Try to find out something new about the client’s business and follow-up after the visit with a nice thank-you note and some kind of helpful information – an industry article, business intelligence, advice, etc. to help remind them that you were paying attention.
We’ve found travel to be a worthwhile investment to build better relationships with our customers. Sometimes there are things you can learn about a customer’s business that can only fully be appreciated with an in-person visit. And customers often appreciate working with scrap plastic trading companies that literally “go the extra mile” to meet with them.
What are some travel tips that you use to make more successful business meetings? What’s the most creative way to show your customers a good time that you’ve experienced?