There's a lot to be said for the traditional model of doing business. You provide a service, get paid for doing it, then you're able to buy things like food, petrol, beer and other essentials. But since working as a freelancer, I've also discovered the benefits of transforming a one-off service into an ongoing, mutually beneficial partnership.
Take, for example, what's happened recently with new local outfit Skilled Hands - Gas, Plumbing & Maintenance. Shane, the bloke whose hands are so skilled, contacted me about getting some marketing content written for his fledgling business. So we met up to discuss his requirements and work out a plan of attack. It was while he was describing exactly what it was that he did - qualified gas fitter & plumber with 30 years experience, knowledgeable about solar voltaic system installations, handy around a building site, well versed in project management, general home maintenance etc. - that I realised he was just the bloke I needed.
You see, it's been a pretty wet winter around the Adelaide Hills, with storm after storm hammering us seemingly for months on end. And all this weather had exposed a deficiency in our roof's waterproofing, the result of which was a waterfall down the lounge room wall every time it rained. Not an ideal situation, I'm sure you'll agree. So at the end of our conversation, I casually asked "what do you know about leaking roofs?" and before I knew it, he was up a ladder poking around at some tiles around the base of our chimney.
He came down again and we shook hands on the first piece of content I'd write for him - an advertorial piece for his local paper, the Southern Argus.
A week later, Shane was back with a list of edits for the drafted article, as well as his ladder, a sheet of roofing lead and a tube of silicon. While I made the necessary amendments, Shane patched the roof and we met back down the bottom half an hour later for coffee. Then we switched places - me to check out his handiwork and him to read through the copy.
I tell you what, he does good work! Check out the before & after shots below.
Now the article has been published, for which Shane's received a number of compliments, and we've had two major rain events and NO LEAKS! Everyone's happy. But it's the flow on effects of this arrangement that I'm really coming to appreciate. Being able to experience Shane's work first hand made it so much easier for me to write the article, which made for a better, more authentic piece (and, by the way, I would not hesitate to recommend Skilled Hands to anyone needing a gas fitter, plumber or home handyman).
My words paid for the materials, while I was more than happy to pay for Shane's labour costs and will do so again when (not if) the next project comes up on our old house - perhaps a gas hot water system to replace our ageing electric one...
Meanwhile, Shane's called on my services again to set up a Facebook page (see the link at top of the post) and we're talking about the website content a bit further down the track.
Because of this, and because Shane's such a nice bloke who does genuinely top notch work, I'll be singing his praises far and wide and will be recommending him to everyone, every chance I get. And I reckon that maybe he's doing the same for me.
That, I feel, is the essence of a strong small business partnership.