It used to be that business agreements could be sealed verbally or by handshake. Today, nothing gets done without a signed contract. While a contract locks a company into a specific agreement and can be used to settle disputes legally, there is still tremendous value in doing what you say you’ll do—not only talking the talk but also walking the walk.
Studies show that about 85% of success can be attributed to social skills. The other 15% usually depends on knowledge and skill in performing the task assigned.
Twenty-five years ago, Dee Livingston started our business when he sold his car to make a down payment for construction equipment to build an office building. He had agreed to build it for an acquaintance over a handshake. Livingston believed—and still does today—in doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it. In construction as in any business, customers and partners come to know who they can trust. They’ll trust the person who sticks to his or her word, regardless of what a contract says.
Listed below are a few tips to keep in mind before committing to a project—whether your commitment is in writing or over a handshake.
Know your business and understand what it takes to do what you say you can do.
Take the time to understand your customers’ needs and business models.
Be prepared to answer your customers’ questions.
•Be honest and communicate any potential challenges and expectations.
Provide your customer with regular updates and status reports.
By following these simple steps, you’ll save yourself and your customers a lot of time and frustration. You’ll also increase the probability of retaining that client, regardless of what a contract may say.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.