Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 12

TEN TIPS FOR BUILDING
STRONG RELATIONSHIPS
1. Choose the right client. Look
for common interests, common values, and a common
business philosophy.
2. Establish expectations early. Let
them know what they can expect
from you and what you will need
from them to get the job done.
3. Keep it personal. Emails, texts,
and other electronic contacts
can't replace the connections
built through regular in-person
visits, phone calls, etc.
4. Add value. Advocate for your
customer and serve as a resource
who can offer solutions not only
on bonding but also on other
areas that can impact their business (like recommendations for
a new lawyer or accountant,
for example).
5. Understand your client's business. Get to know their company,
their projects, and their people.
6. Learn about their industry. Join
their professional associations.
Keep abreast with news about
their competitors and partners,
including other general contractors, subcontractors, and
specialty trade contractors. Stay
informed about any laws and regulations that could impact them.
7. Don't take a relationship for
granted. Treat every client as if
he or she were a new client. Don't
assume that because they've
been with you a long time they
will always be with you.
8. Don't get stuck in a rut. Change
things up every year, adding
some new service that will benefit your clients.
9. Develop a relationship of trust.
Your client needs to know that
you are a person of integrity; you
need to feel that you can rely on
them to do what they say they
will do.
10. Have confidence in yourself. Your
client needs to feel comfortable
that what you're proposing is in
their best interest, so you need to
believe that yourself.

12

getting-acquainted process that
allows both companies to learn more
about each other and to lay the foundations of trust.
Michael Petrasek, Sr., recently
retired from Seubert & Associates,
Pittsburgh, PA, after 44 years in
surety, said that it's important that
surety companies demonstrate an
ability to perform during this period,
since they ask for a lot of sensitive
information from their clients up front.
"You have to be able to lay out
some expectations on what you think
you're going to accomplish and be
able to deliver. You start with fulfilling that first commitment and you
keep building on that," Zimmerman
said. "I think a good relationship also
comes with a certain amount of future
forecasting for them, anticipating
what's going to happen next, anticipating what the upcoming questions
might be and giving them counsel on
some ways to prepare for that and/
or change the direction to achieve
what they're looking to achieve from
a bonding standpoint."
Lawrence McMahon, Executive
Vice President/Surety Manager at
the Construction Services Group
of Alliant Insurance Services, San
Diego, CA, starts with "360 Days of
Stewardship" when he acquires a
new customer. He first meets with
them and introduces his staff; a few
weeks later they have a social meeting (a lunch or dinner) to discuss
expectations. After that, he meets
with the clients on a quarterly basis
to ensure that the agency is delivering
what they expected.
"One of my contacts with them
could be just delivering a bid bond
or a final bond, physically handing it
to the owner and explaining what we
do," McMahon said. "You're building
rapport and actually bonding with
them during that process."
With this structure in place, the
agency is able to work through any
initial difficulties, McMahon added.
When the first few bonds for one new
client didn't go as smoothly as they
wanted, he met with them and reset
expectations so that it would never
happen again.

SURETY BOND QUARTERLY | WINTER 2017

Keep it Real
Marathon runners know that training on a treadmill, while sometimes helpful, is no substitute for
getting out and actually pounding
the pavement. In the surety world,
technology-enabled contacts can't
substitute for face-to-face interactions when it comes to cementing
long-lasting connections.
"Make your relationships personal;
don't allow them to become email,
voice, texting relationships. There's
no replacement for the personal;
that means being in front of your
client and a lot of phone calls," said
Edmunds. "When trying to address
complex issues, the email trap is
worse than phone tag. You end up
exchanging 10 emails back and forth.
It's crazy. I'm in the relationships
business and you can't build and
maintain relationships with emails."
"A lot of the answers that come
from here aren't black and white and
require a little bit of hand-holding
and explanation. You can't give
value-added services by email or by
text," Edmunds added. In a half-hour
meeting or five to 10-minute phone
call, however, he can generally cover
the issue with the client.
To build strong ties between his
agency and the contractor, Edmunds
gets to know not just the person he
deals with on a regular basis, but also
the support staff such as the receptionists, assistants, and estimators.
"I call them secondary relationships,
and I think they are as important as
the primary relationships. Secondary
relationships with our service staff
are also extremely important to the
overall relationship and are encouraged. Take your key staff with you
whenever you can and work at maintaining free-flowing communication
within your office."
Babcock leaves Fridays open so
that he can stop in and visit three
to five clients each day. "I probably
get in touch with every one of my clients at least six to nine times a year.
Sometimes I end up talking six hours
with one that has issues going on,
and sometimes it's just two or three
minutes because they are busy. I like



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017

NASBP Upcoming Meetings & Events
2017–2018 Executive Committee
From the CEO: Looking Backward to Reach Forward
Relationships for the Long Run
Subcontractor Default Insurance: Relevant Considerations for the Surety Claims Professional
Bottom Line Protection with Job Cost Accumulation & Allocation
Inside the AIA’s New Insurance and Bonding Contract Exhibit
The Calm After the Storm: Managing Disaster Response Contracts
Practical Tools to Help Jump-Start Your Company’s Cyber Plan
Index to Advertisers
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - Intro
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - cover1
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - cover2
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 3
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 4
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 5
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 6
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 2017–2018 Executive Committee
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 8
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - From the CEO: Looking Backward to Reach Forward
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 10
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - Relationships for the Long Run
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 12
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 13
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - Subcontractor Default Insurance: Relevant Considerations for the Surety Claims Professional
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 15
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 16
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 17
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 18
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 19
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 20
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 21
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 22
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 23
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 24
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 25
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - Bottom Line Protection with Job Cost Accumulation & Allocation
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 27
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 28
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 29
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - Inside the AIA’s New Insurance and Bonding Contract Exhibit
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 31
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 32
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - The Calm After the Storm: Managing Disaster Response Contracts
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 34
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - Practical Tools to Help Jump-Start Your Company’s Cyber Plan
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 36
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - 37
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - Index to Advertisers
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - cover3
Surety Bond Quarterly - Winter 2017 - cover4
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