What can B2B learn from the Carillion Liquidation?

Like many people who run relatively small B2B companies in the UK I have looked on in dismay at the collapse of our second largest building company.

I have no wish to add to the finger-pointing that’s going on. What’s struck me is the exposure of harsh business practices, and the resulting personal stories of service providers and sub-contractors now facing hardship or even bankruptcy.

It prompts me to two immediate reactions:

  1. To say THANK YOU to our clients who offer reasonable trading terms and pay promptly
  2. To reconfirm why we set up Customer Attuned Ltd – what we stand for and how we run our business

The first reaction is, I hope, self explanatory. The second may require a little more explanation . . .

I have had the privilege of consulting with blue chip companies across the globe for 18 years now, and I have noticed during the hundreds of engagements I’ve been involved in that companies who are passionate about their customers and the experience they deliver are also good to their suppliers.

I don’t mean they’re soft. Indeed not. They’ve recognised (maybe unconsciously) that the ‘supply chain’ isn’t just goods, logistics and trading – it’s also culture and people!

In other words:

Your ethics, culture, reputation and trading ethos are end-to-end.
Whether you like it or not!

For the vast majority of companies your customer experience has some level of dependency on your suppliers. It’s in your business interests to have stable and equitable relationships with both! And yet it seems so many people think they can delight their customers whilst screwing their suppliers – it just doesn’t add up.

Which leads me to why we set up Customer Attuned Ltd. We help B2B companies build better customer and intermediary relationships based on trust and working together for mutual commercial benefit – this is what we stand for and run our business by.

We passionately believe that there are three vital underpinning drivers of success that must be valued, protected, managed and invested in to make a competitive difference in B2B:

  • Trust – never undermining your trustworthiness in business anywhere in the supply chain
  • Interdependence – co-creating and joint working to build mutual dependence and to rectify any dependency imbalances within business relationships; solving business problems not just “selling stuff”
  • Equitable – ensuring that the relationship works commercially over time for all parties involved; negotiating “hard but fair”

Think about it – would these three things describe the best customer or supplier relationships you’ve been involved with? I think they will.

This isn’t what I’m hearing about Carillion! And some other large companies/PE operators who should know better.

I’d urge you to take a look in the corporate mirror and ask yourself if you’re building, or unintentionally damaging, these vital drivers of success in B2B. They’re at the heart of our Business Capability Builder tool, which could quickly and cost effectively quantify your capabilities vs. the good practices of long-term quality relationship building.

Please get in touch if you need help.