In 2001 Convergint Technologies (www.convergint.com) was founded upon 10 driving values and beliefs. Last but not least was “We promote fun and laughter on a daily basis,” and they mean it by giving every employee a $100 and a paid day off each year to go have fun. Additionally, this company closes all of its branches across the globe on its founding birthday, so its employees can go out into their respective communities and serve others who are less fortunate. They also invite their vendors, customers, plus family members to come along and help. They have given paid time off for employee teams to serve in disaster relief efforts both in the United States and abroad. I share these stories not to pat Convergint on the back for doing good, but for stepping out in innovative ways that make great business sense while benefitting everyone involved. They truly have built customer and employee connections through fun and service. How well is your company strengthening these same connections?
The internet has thousands of articles that recommend how to strengthen customer relationships and build stronger teams. From my business and professional experience, the most powerful way to build connection is through shared activities that involve fun and service. Not only does the experience create an immediate connection but the ongoing memories solidify the bond. If you include spouses and other family members as part of the activity, don’t be surprised if you become part of the extended family, likely brought up in conversation around the dinner table.
If you think the concept has merit and you’re searching for ideas, below are a few you might consider:
- Serve at a local charity (food bank, boys & girls club)
- Take a class together (cooking, pottery, woodworking) with hands on participation
- Host a unique experience (skydiving) or competition (go-kart racing)
- Rent out an Improv studio and have teams compete (remember “Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
- Host a talent contest
- Have an employee cook-off (chili, soup, dessert, BBQ) and have vendors and customers be the blind judges
- Organize a field day or carnival with games and fun for the whole family
My personal favorite that builds a lifetime bond—organize and lead a mission trip of co-workers, customers, and vendors. Having taken teams to Honduras and El Salvador many times to drill a water well at a local school or rural community, I can honestly say that my business colleagues, turned mission mates, and I bonded at a level that words cannot adequately described. We worked alongside each other, got dirty and sweated together, shared rooms and meals, struggled with the local language, and had our hearts united with the locals. If you want to get sticky with your customers, take them on a mission trip.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.