You’re probably wondering how my relationship with Jose worked out.  Well, I didn’t sell the house and he didn’t quit.  We are still together, but our whole relationship has changed.

To accomplish this I tried a new strategy.  I decided to work more closely with Jose to find creative ways to make a better deal for both of us.  We became customer-supplier partners and stopped dealing with one another in a continuous low-level conflict.  It wasn’t that Jose was not working hard or that his employees were lazy.  That wasn’t the problem.  They were good workers but inefficient.

Jose and I tackled the problem by looking for better ways to do things.  We got rid of plants that grew too fast or required too much care.  We replaced them with colorful shrubs that were easier to control.  Because we were working together on a win-win basis we got along better.  In exchange for replacing plants to reduce work, Jose reciprocated by charging me wholesale rather than retail prices.  He also reduced my labor costs by hiring less expensive itinerant labor to remove the old growth.

Our new partnership benefitted him in other ways.  Jose had little capital so he used older, less efficient equipment.  I advanced him a modest loan, and by combining it with his meager savings he was able to purchase a faster lawn mower, new power shears for clipping bushes and a more efficient, less noisy leaf blower.  My advance was repaid in a year by reducing my monthly gardening fee.  To further reduce his work I invested in trash barrels with big wheels that allowed him to remove cuttings easily.

Jose is now doing a better job than ever.  The garden looks good even though he spends only an hour and a half a week on it.  Jose has become a more efficient businessman not only on my job but with other customers.  We are loyal to each other and always in search of new win-win ideas.  After all these years, we are now partners.

Customer-supplier partnerships, like the one I have with Jose, are on the rise in the United States and worldwide.  Of course they are often more complicated than the one I described, but the benefits to both parties are much the same conceptually.

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