Third, each company had an extraordinarily intimate relationship with the local city, town or county in which it did business – a relationship that went well beyond the usual concept of “giving back”. That was part of it, to be sure, and all of these companies were model corporate citizens, but the relationship was very much a two-way street. The community helped mold the character of the business, just as the companies played an important role in the life of the community.
Fourth, they cultivated exceptionally intimate relationships with customers and suppliers, based on personal contact, one-on-one interaction, and mutual commitment to delivering on promises. The leaders themselves took the lead in this regard. They were highly accessible and absolutely committed to retaining the human dimension of the relationships. Customers responded by sending fan mail. Suppliers responded by providing extraordinary service of their own. The effect was to create a sense of community and common purpose between the companies, their suppliers, and their customers – the kind of intimacy that is difficult for large companies to achieve, if only because of their size.
Bo Burlingham – Small Giants