A professional relationship and a friendship are two separate matters, and when you cross that line, both are jeopardized. I hear constantly from people who are extremely disappointed in their taxidermist, but then they say, “But he’s a friend, and he’s a good guy.”
What Does This Mean?
It means you no longer have a professional relationship with your taxidermist, and you cannot demand what you should demand in a professional relationship because of friendship. The truth is friendship is diametrically opposed to business. It is true in business you can be kind and supportive of each other, but there still is a fundamental business practice that presides over everything.
The Friendship Factor
Once friendship enters business, there are excuses, escape clauses, and all kinds of other issues that allow the business relationship to disappear. I do not know many people who are friends with their mechanic, gardener, doctor, or accountant. In each case, most people I know have a professional relationship in which services are rendered and payment is given. If services are inadequate, payment is withheld, or they move on to someone else.
The Business Solution
This is exactly what hunters should do regarding his or her taxidermist. I, as an owner of a taxidermy business for over 40 years, have resisted the temptation to go hunting or fishing with clients, accept gifts from them, or even to go out to dinner. I find all those things compromise the business relationship, and at the end of the day, everyone expects something from a friendship.
If people want to be your friend, it is because they have an unspoken expectation of receiving something in return, and in a pure friendship, that exchange is healthy and mutual. However, when friendship becomes part of business, it all falls apart. You cannot demand what you need or paid for and you cannot criticize the quality of work — you just go along.
Keep it simple, keep it separate.