As founder and CEO at Laundryheap, I have actively pursued and cultivated partnerships with companies across various industries throughout Laundryheap’s journey.
These partnerships have enabled us to tap into new sectors, expand our reach and bring new skills and experience into the team. They’ve also enhanced our service offering, improved our operational efficiency, and enabled us to deliver even greater value to our customers.
Whether you choose to work with direct competitors, sector-adjacent businesses, charities or smaller local players, seeking opportunities to forge strategic alliances with companies who share your vision and can enhance your value proposition is a brilliant tool.
Here’s my advice on how to identify and unlock the full potential of strategic partnerships.
Identify the key opportunities
Finding the most valuable partnership opportunities requires understanding the gaps in your business model, so you can identify which external partners are best positioned to fill them. There will be some gaps you can fill yourselves. But partners come in handy when you can identify an opportunity that you don’t have the expertise or internal resources to deliver on. Therefore, take the time to identify compatible partners that complement your existing strengths.
In the case of Laundryheap, during the pandemic we collaborated with UnderTheDoormat to offer free accommodation near hospitals for NHS staff and key workers; and fresh linen and towels to guests throughout their stay. By joining forces, we were able to offer valuable support to people working at the forefront of the pandemic.
By carefully identifying the right opportunities, you can open doors to new markets and build valuable long-term relationships with partners that can deliver untold value to your business for many years to come.
Define shared values and objectives
Establishing shared values and objectives is crucial once you’ve identified potential partners. It’s important to define values that align with both parties’ business objectives, such as a shared commitment to sustainability and ethics, or an ambition for fast growth. Then, you can set clear and measurable goals so that you can be certain that the partnership is working for all involved. We recently partnered with Oxwash to support their consumer’s with on-demand laundry services. Oxwash, known for its high-tech cleaning offering for B2B and commercial markets, aligns perfectly with our shared values of sustainability and innovation. We established this with the Oxwash team right at the beginning of our discussions about working together. At the beginning of any new partnership, clear communication is key, to ensure everybody is on the same page and happy with the plan.
Foster a collaborative and trusting environment
Successful strategic partnerships rely on collaboration and pooling the strengths of both partners to find solutions to the key issues you’re solving: whether that’s sustainable energy consumption, laundry delivery, or something entirely different. To innovate and work well with a new partner there needs to be a productive, collaborative environment where you listen to each other and play to each other’s strengths. You also want to create a safe space where you can freely share ideas and feedback without fear of criticism. To achieve this, take time to get to know your partners and their teams, as this will help to cultivate an authentic relationship built on mutual trust and respect.
Partnerships are a brilliant way to make your business more resilient. By growing your network of stakeholders, you can be more acutely aware of market shifts and can learn from your partners in order to make your business even more robust when the waters are rough. Strong partnerships can be particularly useful for building resilience when expanding internationally. Your international partners can give you tips on how to succeed in new markets, so you can prepare and hit the ground running.
You can also reinforce the strength of your service offering by combining your product with that of partners – either through joint promotions or unique bundles – which enhance your value proposition and the customer experience.
Whilst the world of business is competitive, working together and pooling knowledge, strengths and skills is key. The right strategic partnerships can significantly enhance your value proposition and help you to fill gaps in your operations. Partnerships have been critical for the long-term success, growth and evolution of my business; they could be for yours, too.