This interview was published in the Ergon Magazine SMART insights 2019. Order your free copy now ->
How do you win over a new client? What must be right for a business relationship to work? How do you build lasting collaborations that often grow into friendships? Ruedi Hugelshofer has been involved in selling for decades but would never describe himself as someone who works in "sales". He sees his role in quite a different light.
People who work for Ergon generally stay for a long time. You are one of a group of employees who have stayed loyal to the company for many years. Why?
Because I can’t just sell any old thing. I’d rather sell something that impresses me and brings me – and my customers – genuine added value.
Hand on heart, what’s more important to you in the long run – your company or your customer?
A rather strange question. Both are more important to me! (laughs) Naturally, I stand by our products and services in dealings with my customers, and naturally I also have a duty to my company. At the same time, I am at pains to ensure that my customers get all the services they ordered – reliably, on time, and with optimum quality. So I think of myself as representing both sides: an advocate not of a single party, but of partners. That’s really important to me, and it’s part of my nature.
Are there customers that you particularly like?
Of course. Friendships have blossomed out of business relationships. What matters to me is that we can work well on a realistic level and cooperate intensively; that we deal with one another as equals, that we can also speak freely to achieve the best results, and that we keep our word. Occasionally, I have got to know people who have shown an interest but I have ultimately had to conclude that we are not a good fit.
If someone only has a fixed price in mind and is not inclined to look at it in terms of the service provided, things will generally get difficult.
Ergon is rumoured to be more expensive than other providers.
That’s not true, and here’s why: If you can rely on the work of Ergon experts – people who are committed team players with excellent references, top qualifications, broad experience and a strict, hands-on work ethic – you are getting a great deal. And if the old-fashioned Swiss virtues of perfectionism, punctuality and precision mean anything to you, then you’ll appreciate it all the more. And if you look at this in relation to our pricing policy, you’ll soon see that Ergon’s work lasts – and thus represents value for money. In other words, Ergon’s services are worth the price you pay.
But there’s also something tempting about getting it on the cheap, isn’t there?
Well, you might get lucky. But often you tend to be unlucky. If the thing hasn’t been properly thought through and only works in certain circumstances from the get-go, that will cost you money. Or if it works fine at the beginning, but problems begin to crop up the next time you expand the system, then you’ll be paying through the nose. In such cases, a bit more investment at the outset will more than pay off.
I’m not just saying that, I’ve seen this happening for decades. When I see other people doing business according to the “take the money and run” principle, I do sometimes feel a little bit of schadenfreude. We aim to forge a successful and sustainable partnership with our customers.
How do you see your personal future with Ergon?
Ah, I was expecting that question. I love this company and I love my customers! I shall be retiring soon and I’m looking forward to it. But I am happy to stay on call for certain Ergon jobs.
This interview is part of the series "Entrepreneurs in our midst" in SMART insights 2019. You can find an overview with all interviews here.