I have been thinking about the key factors that contribute to a successful business partnership in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry.

Instead of a success story, the first thing that came to mind was the relationship between building management and vendors. All too often, this relationship—which should be a mutually beneficial partnership—is one-sided. One party, typically building management, has the upper hand. Most building management teams view the vendor as a paid provider of goods and services. Most vendors view building management as a demanding customer they must bend over backwards for in order to receive revenue.

This type of relationship lend itself to an uneven playing field. And it creates an atmosphere in which one party is viewed as dominant or more important. Such an arrangement is wrought with potential pitfalls such as resentment, lack of constructive communication, and wasted time.

What Does a Constructive CRE Industry Partnership Look Like?

Unfortunately, it is difficult to break the mold. And the onus usually falls on the vendor to put the gears in motion. Many vendors think this type of relationship change requires them to ‘stand up’ to the client. But more often than not it is about positioning themselves as an equal early in the relationship.

A CRE vendor should position themselves as a market expert working in conjunction with their clients to help achieve mutual goals and long term success. This way they’ll be more valuable to the client and ultimately derive a greater sense of satisfaction from their work.

The bottom line is that success is a two way street. It is only when building management and vendors view themselves as partners—NOT clients and vendors—that both can realize a true return on their investment. The client will receive higher quality goods and services. And the vendor can perform their job more efficiently and transform constructive feedback and insight into a stronger offering. Being partners inspires confidence and the benefits that surround that confidence are contagious.

At Building Engines, we are always thinking about ways to make building operations run smoothly. And we realized early on that the relationship between vendors and building management is a critical component of a building’s overall efficiency. In response to this, we created a vendor management system which allows both parties total visibility into their relationship.

Regardless of which side of the coin you are on (and you most likely will find yourself on both), take a step back and think about how your actions might impact your relationships. The way you think and act today will impact both your personal and business relationships tomorrow.