A West Coast firm we have worked with extensively for several years through a third party sent us numerous editing requests in December and then started off this year with a steady stream of assignments in January. Because business often slows down during the holidays, we thought a strong finish to the year and a great start after New Year's was a signal that 2015 would be a great year with this company.
Then they went dark in February. And they stayed mostly dark in March. As it turned out, they were restructuring senior management.
Our contacts at the firm assured us work would resume to its usual pace in Q2. We believed them, and the several press releases they sent us announcing C-suite changes during the down time gave us faith that the editing flow for white papers, brochures and other materials would indeed pick up again.
Our patience was rewarded this month. Editing requests have resumed and are approaching the pace we experienced before the management changes.
The experience, though, has been a valuable learning experience. Never take business for granted.
This is a point worth remembering whether the business is with a longstanding client, one you've done business with occasionally, or one you are pitching.
Companies, even established ones that have been in your portfolio for a long time, can experience downturns or change managers who may decide to outsource their contract work to people they know from previous business relationships. Assuming that you are the best-qualified company when your are responding to an RFP or RFQ with a new client is also a very bad idea. People can sense when they are being taken for granted, and does anyone need to be reminded what "assume" means when it's broken down into three parts?
I am reminded of a company that was bidding on a contract with a client they had done business with previously. They later admitted "we thought we had them in our hip pocket." They didn't. A competitor beat them out. The problem? The overly confident company submitted a sloppily prepared bid. Their rival went in with a polished well-written bid in a presentation folder with beautifully designed graphics.
The lesson is clear. Don't take anything in business for granted. Or, in life.
As I write this, my wife is having a cancerous growth removed from an eyelid. As important as business relationships and success in business are, life has a way of putting into perspective what really matters.