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The second part of our article about the importance of relationships, specifically business relationships. In Part I, we explained that we see ‘business relationship’ as an umbrella term which encompasses a number of internal relationships. In addition, it incorporates various external relationships, and these form the subject of Part II… 

Relationships with Partners

Partnership is key to the way that K2 does business. We see our vendors as our partners, each one of whom is part of our partner network. We support them in obtaining and maintaining their accreditation as a member of our Global Accredited Partner Programme (GAPP), an accreditation which gives our clients confidence that the service they receive will meet K2’s exacting standards. As part of the Partner Network pillar of KINETIC, our five-year business plan, we are also working to bring our partners into the heart of our K2 family, for example through partner events and our partner newsletter. We believe that the closer and more robust a partnership, the greater our ability to pinpoint and resolve any issues that may arise during the course of service delivery.

It is not only our vendors whom K2 see as partners; our sustainability interventions are also driven by partnerships. For example, in January 2022 we partnered with EcoVadis, a trusted provider of business sustainability ratings. Samiya Hirji, Account Manager at EcoVadis, describes how “Right from the beginning, we experienced really high engagement from the K2 leadership team, in particular from CEO Nick Plummer. Nick took the time to fully understand our partnership, enabling him to really leverage the benefits that it offers. For example, the partnership has created a new channel of communication between K2 and its suppliers, and Nick has used this channel to motivate suppliers as they undertake their sustainability journeys.” Engaging with EcoVadis in this way, taking full advantage of the opportunities that the relationship offers, enables K2 to gain greater visibility of its supply chain, something that is very appealing to clients for whom risk management is a key concern.

Relationships with Clients

For any business within any industry, good client relationships are key to success. “Because it’s personal” is K2’s ethos and the core around which it builds each of its client relationships. We take care of our clients and their assignees, managing their needs, requests and concerns in an empathetic and hands-on manner. Nothing is ever transactional or disconnected. This approach enables us to build strong and trusting relationships, improving the client experience and increasing our agility when it comes to problem solving. In the event of an issue developing, having made the effort to establish good channels of communication, we are able to get in contact with the client quickly. The trust that they have in us gives us the freedom to act swiftly and as we see fit, without the need for lengthy discussions and a convoluted sign-off process.

Relationships with the Industry

We believe that we have a responsibility to enrich and protect the industry that we work within. To enrich the industry, we share knowledge through webinars and roundtable discussions, exploring key industry topics and giving fellow industry professionals easy access to information that may otherwise be difficult to come by. To protect the industry, we strive to reduce K2’s negative environmental impact, developing partnerships which aim to either offset our carbon emissions or to drive systemic mindset change. Our partnership with reforestation charity One Tree Planted is a good example of the former. A good example of the latter is our partnership with the University of Bath, which will allow the institution to “apply its understanding of consumer behaviour and sustainability to a new sector. One specific challenge is understanding how corporates actually make decisions and then designing interventions that will nudge them towards sustainable choices.” (Professor Brian Squire, Deputy Dean of the School of Management, University of Bath)

In conclusion, a business relationship may take many different forms – internal and external. Taking the time to build and to nurture each of these different relationships is key for both commercial success and sustainable growth. For K2, this building and nurturing process is defined by sensitivity, flexibility and rigorous attention to detail, because for us, it isn’t just business; it’s personal.

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