Whether you need advice, funding support, or somebody to grab data for you, partnerships are a major key to strengthening your business. While some of these partnerships might get off the ground by chance, most of the time, you need to be proactive about helping them along.
Jason Ryan, President of Maaco, understands both sides of this equation. As a teen, he fell into a relationship with the company he now runs when his local body shop outsourced work on his 1989 Mustang. But as the company's president, he's developed some of the strongest connections the business has had, including Axalta Racing and Dale Earnhardt Jr., "Transformers: The Last Knight" and Michael Bay" and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. This is what Ryan and Artemio Garza--Chief Brand Officer for Maaco's parent company, Driven Brands--say is essential for growing your own partnerships for success.
1. Create a clear vision of mutual goals.
Strategic partnerships, Garza says, typically introduce your brand to an entirely new audience. They also help consumers see your brand in a different way. A well-expressed vision means both existing and new customers aren't left guessing about what you and your partner can do for them. It reassures these individuals that, despite changes, you've got things under control, as well, which fosters trust.
From the internal perspective, a clear vision of mutual objectives defines the roles individuals within each company can take. It provides a rationale for specific operational policies and resource allocation, too. These elements can prevent workers from feeling "rudderless" or confused as the companies work together, contributing to higher satisfaction and productivity.
2. Plan for the long haul and communicate clearly throughout the partnership process.
Even though short-term partnerships still can be beneficial, long-term partnerships can offer much more stability for your company. Additionally, no partnership gets ironed out overnight. Assume you'll need time to work out details and kinks, and make the effort to spell out exactly what you expect and need at every stage. Always ask yourself how what you're doing will affect the next generation within both companies.
In addition to the main parties entering into the partnership, ensure there's support for the relationship internally. "In a franchise system like Maaco, buy in from our franchise partners is crucial to a successful partnership," states Ryan. "No matter who you're pitching the partnership to, educate the audience on how and why the partnership will positively impact both businesses."
3. Create a detailed timeline, progress milestones and success factors upfront.
A detailed rather than general timeline makes larger goals for the partnership much more accessible, breaking them into more digestible chunks. It also offers an anchor both partners can lean on for logistics, providing a sense of actionable pacing. Progress milestones confirm that partners are moving in the right direction and provide opportunities for rewards. Defining success factors makes it clear what resources and hurdles partners will have to use or face together. That affects the strategies you opt to use as you work together and gives greater purpose to the steps you take.
4. Use a budget.
Budgets do not need to be split down the middle between you and your partner, but they do need to be fair based on what you and your partner both can bring to the table. Garza recommends that you agree on a budget from the beginning and monitor it through the life of the partnership. Doing so ensures everyone pulls their weight, that there are no painful misunderstandings and that the programs within the partnership don't fail for want of financial support.
"Plan to celebrate the milestones and accomplishments along the way," says Ryan. "[Celebrating] nurtures the partnership and keeps momentum high." Exactly how you celebrate is up to you, depending on factors like partner atmosphere/personalities, cost and the specific item you're highlighting as a success. As long as it's safe and legal, have fun!
Partnerships can make the difference between barely squeaking by and raking in millions in profits, so if you've put them off not knowing where to start, today's the day to use these tips and make a move. Business is tough, but you don't have to go at it alone.