On Sunday Nina and I had our annual holiday party. This is something we started doing when we ran our remodeling company.
We would invite our employees, the trade contractors and vendors we worked with, our (good) clients, the professionals we worked with (architects, engineers, lawyer, accountant), other general contractors, members of volunteer groups we participated in, personal friends, and our children. The idea was to have people from all these different communities that were part of our lives get to know one another.
More often than not, people whom Nina and I knew from different parts of our lives would see each other at the party after not having been in contact with one another for years!
When we lived in Berkeley, Calif., the party was such a regular event that people looked forward to it. One year, a couple who were friends and who we had done work for did not receive an invitation (we still have no idea how that happened!). On the night of the party — it was usually the Sunday the two weeks before Christmas — they slowly drove by our house feeling sad that they were not invited.
We found out about this when talking with them some time after the party. We told them that whether or not they received an invitation they were always to come to our house that night!
Why have it at our house? Because our home is a place that we enjoyed sharing with all these good people. We had done a lot of work on it over the years and it reflected our lives as well as what our company could do. And we did not have to pay to use it.
How did we handle food and drink? We provided a spiral sliced ham and one or two turkey breasts. We also provided wine, beer, soft drinks, and water. The attendees were to bring a side dish, salad, or dessert. Since it was a pot-luck everyone contributed.
There were some folks who brought the same dish every year. One couple would bring an apple pie, with the apples having come from their backyard. And people would look for such dishes, every year. Tradition.
When we moved from Berkeley to Ashland, Ore., we had a holiday party our first winter here. We didn’t know a lot of folks, mostly the people who had done the remodel of our house and some of the bed and breakfast owners where we had stayed while the work was going on.
That was four years ago. This year there were about 70 people at the party. Several of them were amazed that we were acquainted with so many folks in such a short time.
Building community is one of your main responsibilities as a business owner. I didn’t realize that as a young person. I did “get it” as time passed.
And I enjoy connecting people. After all, that is a skill that helps you get more business when you are in business.
So how about you? What can you do to help all the good folks who are a part of your life get to know one another? They will be grateful to you year after year for doing so — and your company will have more work!
On a completely different note, please know that I will not be working from Dec. 21 until Jan. 2, so there will be no blog posted Dec. 27. I figure everyone deserves a break during that time. Try taking one yourself. Happy Holidays!
—Paul Winans, a veteran remodeler, now works as a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage, and as a consultant to remodeling business owners. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.