Gaining and Losing Trust in Business Relationships

Trust is perhaps the most fundamental pillar of any business. Without it, your customers and clients will find others with which to do business. We all know what happens when we lose trust in someone in a personal relationship, and we can expect the same adverse outcomes in business.

Yesterday, I saw a story of a local restaurant that was given a “red card,” which meant there were serious health and safety issues, and the restaurant had to close. After reading about the violations and seeing how rapidly they were reported on social, local, and even statewide media, the restaurant probably has no choice but to close permanently. I doubt that I could enjoy another meal there.

I then saw a picture of a bug part on a plate of food from another restaurant on Facebook. By the end of the day, there were close to 300 posts about it—nearly all negative. Like the “red card” restaurant, I doubt I would revisit this restaurant.

Both had destroyed any trust that customers might have had. I’m not sure how either will survive.

Business trust comes from the belief that the business will fulfill its obligations—customers pays, the company provides the goods or service—in an expedient, safe, and high-quality manner.

Receiving What You Pay For

This is pretty simple, though I see businesses lose the trust of others because they over-promise and under-deliver. I’ve seen businesses try to substitute with inferior products or services. Worse, I see businesses not completing a project that they have accepted money to do.

Expedience—Doing Things in a Reasonable Amount to Time

Customers and businesses often disagree about what is a reasonable amount of time. Today, after waiting in the business line at the bank for ten minutes, I left. Then I saw cars wrapping around the parking lot—at least ten in line—for Mcdonald’s. Both, to me, were unreasonable waits, though in today’s under-staffed environment, I have some level of understanding and patience.

At Kona Impact, we rarely accept pre-payment for any projects. We like to get paid when the customers gets their project. That said, most clients would answer “yesterday” when asked they want their projects done.


This is where cleanliness at a restaurant is paramount to creating trust with customers. There are a few restaurants in town where I would not visit because of cleanliness.

Any business that transports people—whether in a vehicle, boat, or helicopter—has to have impeccable safety. I’ll never forget when our driver fell asleep at the wheel going up Haleakala in Maui. Zero chance that I was going to recommend that company to anyone. We made sure they understood that was the reason for the meager tip we provided at the end of the tour.


This is one of the hardest things for a business and customer to define. What is an awesome, spectacular level of quality to someone might be “meh” to others. At Kona Impact, we believe quality is in the buyer’s eye, so we must produce what we believe is our highest quality possible, and if a customer is unimpressed—it happens—communicate, possibly redo or refund.

Trustworthiness is one of those attributes that permeates everything a business does. With it, the business should grow, and without it, the business, such as the “red card” restaurant, could be doomed.