Canadian Rental Service

Editorial: August 2012

Patrick Flannery   

Features Business Intelligence

Some cultures have been thinking about business relationships a lot longer than ours has.

Some cultures have been thinking about business relationships a lot longer than ours has.

The Chinese have a word, guanxi, that is hard to define in English but forms one of the most important concepts in Chinese society and business. It refers to how connected a person is to other people and to an entire network of peers and acquaintances. But it is not just about knowing people. It is about how well you know them and the depth of your experience with them.

It is a measure of personal connection, not of formal relationships like marriage or employment. It is not necessarily connected to wealth, power or social status. Someone who employs thousands of workers could have less guanxi than one of those workers.

Guanxi measures a person’s influence in terms of how obligated others will feel to help that person or do favours for him or her and, by the same token, how obligated that person will be to the others in his or her network. Guanxi is a bit like the Western idea of charisma or popularity, but more serious and not so related to an inherent personal quality. It is always a two-way street; no one accumulates guanxi without giving some to someone else. Failing to acknowledge one’s guanxi relationship to another person is a serious breach of etiquette.

Like most basic concepts, guanxi takes a long time to explain, but now that you have read about it, you probably realize it is something you have understood innately for a long time. And you can probably think of people who have great guanxi and are experts at accumulating more.

This issue’s cover profile is about one such person and the company he runs. James Morden is one of those rare people who actually enjoy politics.

Meetings, conferences, receptions, dinners – Morden dives in knowing that every conversation he has, every hand he shakes, increases his guanxi and empowers him to meet his personal goals. Again, it probably is not something Morden ever thinks about consciously, but maybe his story will inspire you to think a little bit about your own guanxi and what you can do to improve it.

We bid a fond adieu (or maybe just an au revoir) to George’s Corner, our back-page column by ABCO general operations manager, George Olah.

George has bowed out citing a crazy workload, which is something we all can relate to. I want to personally thank George for all his insightful and entertaining contributions. For now, I’ll be using the Back Page to print interesting, informative and entertaining items I find in my travels around the industry and the Internet. This month, you will find an interesting perspective on customer perception from the popular customer service gurus, Kizer and Bender. In it, they show how great service can actually hurt your reputation with customers…if things are allowed to slide. Since the rental business is a service business first and foremost, I know everyone will benefit from this reminder about the importance of service quality on every visit.

You will find good advice coming from all quarters in this issue. CRA president Ed Dwyer shares his thoughts on time management in his President’s Message on page 10. Once Ed has whetted your appetite to save time and money, we will follow up in September with our showcase of cutting-edge software solutions from the biggest names in the business. Don’t miss it! 

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