Site Visits: The most important way to build relationships

When looking to cultivate business and build relationships in the recycling industry, it’s often very beneficial for the parties involved to arrange for a site visit. When putting together a successful deal, it is important to ensure that both parties understand each other’s expectations and obligations. When you schedule a site visit, it is important to prepare in advance to make sure the visit is worth everyone’s time. In short, you should make sure to accomplish the following three facets of building a successful relationship: Rapport, Catalogue, and Knowledge/Understanding.

Although the work environment tends to be formal, it is important to remember that all of your colleagues and business partners are people with all kinds of interests and hobbies outside of work. When you physically visit a site, it allows two parties to put a face to the name they have previously only heard on the phone or seen in various e-mails. It provides you the opportunity to shake hands, face to face, and make a strong impression on someone in a way that you just cannot convey in an e-mail or over the phone. No team, organization, or relationship can thrive without rapport and a site visit presents a unique opportunity to build rapport with prospective business partners.

Site visits also allow commodities brokers to physically visit the prospective partner’s facility. This is especially important because it allows you to better understand your partner’s operations. It also allows you to view the material in person and take the necessary photos. By cataloging your visit, you are taking full advantage of the unique opportunity to understand the facilities’ operations and material and ensure that the quality of the material is up to par. No one likes rejections or complications regarding the quality of the material that’s being shipped to them, and a site visit can exponentially decrease the likelihood of these issues occurring.

Lastly, by the end of the site visit you should ensure that both parties have a shared knowledge base and have a better understanding of one another. For example, there should be a mutual understanding on the material(s) in terms of key metrics such as the required level of quality, the minimum loading weight, and the availability/volume of the material. It is also beneficial to discuss the pricing required to make the deal work for both sides, especially now that you have shared the expectations of both parties. Aside from the business aspect of the site visit, you have the opportunity to learn about MRFs and the various services they provide, while also applying visuals to processes you deal with on a daily basis.

In conclusion, a site visit can play a critical role in building a strong, mutually beneficial business relationship. Take advantage of the opportunity to visit the site of a prospective business partner, but do more than just show up and walk around. Make sure you approach your visit with the goal of establishing and building rapport, getting a feel for their facility and determining the quality level of their commodities, and reviewing the expectations on both ends of the relationship. In addition, this is an excellent time to ask questions and share knowledge from a broker’s point of view versus that of a supplier, customer, or end-user.

Having visibility into your partners’ business operations and developing a strong sense of rapport and trust is hugely valuable in the scrap plastic trading business, especially when pricing is volatile and margins are tight. The better you know your business partners, the more confident you can feel when making trades and closing deals. Site visits are a big part of expanding your business intelligence and generating key insights that can help you make better-informed trades that deliver bigger value for both sides. If the opportunity for a site visit arises, jump at it and make it count!