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Building trust in a business is a long game

Written by Steve Byrne on Thursday, 04 March 2021. Posted in Insight, People

The current situation affects us all to some degree or another. First and foremost we are living and working through a human crisis which we all hope will come to an end sooner rather than later.

Building trust in a business is a long game

The current situation affects us all to some degree or another. First and foremost we are living and working through a human crisis which we all hope will come to an end sooner rather than later. From a business point of view these are trying times for many sectors, and we know the next few months will continue to present challenges to both our personal and professional lives as we support the vital need to keep people safe, and allow time for the vaccine to roll out.

No matter the sector you work in or stage in your franchise career, I’m sure many business owners can relate to the following statements, and I hope you can feel proud at how far you have come over the past 12 months despite the obvious challenges:

  • You have shown incredible care for customers in turbulent times
  • You have renewed relationships with the people in your support network and those who will continue to be there for you over the coming months
  • You have enhanced the reputation of both your business and personal brand by always striving to ‘do the right thing’ by people
  • You have found the mental strength to get through, despite natural ‘wobbles’ along the way
  • You have acted as a role model to others – sometimes without ever even knowing it

As we continue to deal with the here and now, it is timely to remind ourselves that as business owners we are determined to forge a brighter future because we know that being in business, or having a career, is a long game. Naval Ravikant, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and start-up investor, argues that playing the long game applies to both personal and business relationships:

“Long-term games are good not just for compound interest, they’re also good for trust… When you have been doing business with somebody, you have been friends with somebody for ten years, twenty years, thirty years, it just gets better and better because you trust them so easily. The friction goes down, you can do bigger, and bigger things together… Whether it is goodwill, or love, or relationships, or money.”

The positive feedback directly from customers of Travel Counsellor business owners in this period, and on global review platforms such as Trustpilot, indicates how we have strived to build trust. Given the scale of what every travel company has faced in 2020 there will always be room for improvement, and we know that building trust takes time and involves many interactions. The investment we have made in playing the long game with customers, colleagues and connections will mean that as a business community, and as individual franchisees, we can look forward to emerging from this period better than before.

For those who have spent years building their business and personal brand, the time and energy you have put into building a loyal customer base will see you through this time. And if you do not have this yet, because you are at the start of your new business journey or looking for your next venture, the time, effort and passion you put into the months and years to come will prove it’s possible. Having this conviction, belief in your abilities and in your product or service is what makes many entrepreneurs special. This belief in better days to come, is why you perhaps chose the career you did, or you are in the planning stages of launching your own franchise.

One of the things that has stood out the most to me in the past months is the power of showing care to people, and certainly from our perspective at Travel Counsellors, the benefit of having a personal, human travel professional by your side as travel restrictions shifted at pace across the globe. This is no doubt true for many other sectors, where experienced, professional, caring people have had the opportunity to prove their value to customers more than ever before.

Even in days of adversity there is opportunity. For individuals, these opportunities have ranged from learning something new, taking the time to upskill, re-train, boost your profile, enhance your reputation, increase market share, reaffirm your business goals, strengthen relationships with key partners, cement your core values and continue to nurture loyalty and repeat custom with customers. 

With these new opportunities, the feeling of belonging to something ‘bigger’, never being alone and knowing that you are part of a supportive community, I would argue, has been as business critical over this period as cashflow. To put it more succinctly, being kind to ourselves and each other will outlive this virus.  

And as we continue to navigate this time it is important to have that network and community – be that customers, friends and family, work, and wider community - that will walk with you, and ultimately have your back. Recently, I was reminded of a quote from an old Beatles song:

“You and I have memories that stretch out longer than the road ahead…”

The relationships we have worked tirelessly to maintain, both in the lead up to, and during this period will be what our customers remember us for. For our part we will continue to strive to help customers rebook and save their holidays and business trips, and above all, keep customer safety and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.

The words of Irish poet Seamus Heaney certainly ring true, “If we can winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.”

About the Author

Steve Byrne

Steve Byrne

Steve Byrne is CEO of independent travel company Travel Counsellors. Having joined the company as Managing Director in 2004, Steve became CEO of the Travel Counsellors Group in 2016. During his 15-year tenure Steve has steered the company through two private-equity investments, with sales hitting £600m for the first time in the company’s history last year. Steve has an unwavering focus on championing people, recognising the importance of the individuals that make up a global business community, the care they provide and the talent and skills each bring to their role. Previous to Travel Counsellors Steve was CEO at ITC Travel, and formerly a Principal Consultant at KPMG.

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