Driving Future Business Outcomes Through CollaborationBy Manuela D’Agata | March 11, 2020 << Back to Articles
Stronger together—that is the mantra of the future. Collaboration between companies is worthwhile, even if it’s between competitors and outside of one’s own industry. Lone fighters will increasingly face difficulties in being successful. Connections, partnerships, and good relationships are important as firms face changing market conditions. In today’s digital, global economy, markets are developing faster, which makes change less predictable and more relevant across industries. Thus, trends that stem from entirely different markets can influence the cleaning industry in significant ways.
Opportunities for Collaboration
Collaboration can take place in a variety of ways: Work groups for a relevant topic, combined research in a given area, initiatives to sponsor emerging talent, and exploration of new business models and markets, to name a few. Companies that cooperate can learn from each other, win new customers, establish new business partnerships, and increase their prominence. One example for collaboration between competing companies is the ISSA Innovation & Education Committee. It is formed by 010 ISSA members representing different sectors of the cleaning industry across different European countries and company types. Alongside staff from ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, the group designs and develops an innovation and education program that meets the specific needs of the entire cleaning industry.
Louise Goldsmith, who is part of the committee and head of marketing at Vectair Systems, says, “ISSA’s committee provides a great platform for sharing knowledge and individual experiences on industry issues, successes, and challenges. It is inspiring to be a part of a team whose goal is to improve the reputation and impact of the cleaning industry in the wider world and workplace, through collaboration rather than competition.”
“Companies should not hesitate to team up, cooperate, or network with competitors,” says Manuela D’Agata, international education and certification director at ISSA. “Cooperating with competitors can lead to entering new markets or reaching new target demographics, thus enabling a whole new set of business opportunities. While each company can keep its target demographic and its market, cooperation might overcome challenges that are barely manageable alone.”
Additionally, cooperation and shared actions strengthen the entire industry to the benefit of all constituents.
Learning to Cooperate
One step toward greater cooperation companies should consider is to join and actively support an industry trade association. Participating in associations can help firms establish presence at industry events or take advantage of initiatives such as market analyses, industry research, or business tools that empower learning and sales growth. Through industry associations, participants can learn the value of cooperation and engagement and follow a common mission. Further, companies can position themselves to their customers as subject matter experts in a field, and establish themselves as progressive, future-oriented, transparent, and committed to the industry—all of which has a positive influence on their reputation.
Appropriate partners can find each other at industry exhibitions and events. It also pays to explore the networks of one’s own customers, service providers, or distributors and simply ask for recommendations. By collaborating with other firms, one’s network will grow, thus creating new possibilities.
When choosing partners, however, firms should consider their options carefully. Ideally, a business partner holds a good reputation and is well-known, at least within their own industry or local market. This way, the partner’s shine can influence one’s own business. It is also important for all partners to follow the same goal and for the partnership to be mutually beneficial. This motivates the collaborators and ensures that suitable resources are committed to the partnership.
Companies that collaborate with others will profit beyond that specific partnership. For instance, collaboration positively influences previously established business relationships. “Someone who successfully cooperates with others can also become a much better partner to existing customers,” D’Agata said. “This strengthens customer loyalties and cements the firm’s market position.”
Joining an association can be the first step towards fruitful collaborating and opens even more possibilities. Learn more about how ISSA can help your business and personal career at https://www.issa.com/member-benefits
About the Author.
Manuela D’Agata is ISSA's director of international education and certification. She can be reached at [email protected].