I grew up hearing fiercely loyal customers tell stories about my dad. Other such stories I lived myself …
I was about 20 years old, home from college for the weekend. I stopped by the saloon to see my dad. All the guys were razzing him saying things like, “Close the cash register, the Boss is in town.” I was grinning back, “A smile from my dad is all I’m after.”
Some guy from Detroit swaggered in like this was any old bar, and he was some hot stuff. The big spender sat down and ordered a 50-cent, 8 oz. draft beer. He chose the red stool to Jim G, a guy about my age, who saw my dad as his surrogate father.
I had just thanked Jim G 83 times for fixing the flat tire on my boyfriend’s car — he’d driven out 17 miles to help me when I was stranded on route 80. We met for the first time by the side of that highway just 18 hours earlier.
I didn’t notice the Detroit stranger order his beer. I never served drinks there. Everyone knew my dad didn’t want me to. By the time the guy got it, I was teasing my dad and talking to a Joey D. He was an old guy who knew me since I was still sitting on the bar with my feet hanging.
Next thing you know, Mr. Detroit threw a fist in Jim G’s face. They were having it out right there in seconds. My sixty-something dad flew over the bar, pulled the guys apart, and handed them over to a couple of friends. Then, as a deputy of the county, he called the cops to pick up Mr. Detroit for visit to the local jail.
It was then that I heard the story. Mr. Detroit had asked Jim for my name. Jim said, “I told him ‘You wanna know, ask her or ask her father.’ I wasn’t going to tell him if you didn’t want him to know.”
Later that night, my dad bailed Detroit out of jail, took him to breakfast, and sent him on his way.
In a small town saloon, personal and business relationships can’t be separated. You throw guys in jail and you bail ’em later. You feed ’em and let ’em know you’ve been there.
My dad cared about the people who were his customers and so they cared about him. He looked out for them and they looked out for him. Investment made investment returned. It’s the ROI of relationships — in spades. For me, it was like church, family, and Mark Twain to be there. Lots of others felt the same way that Jim G and I did.
What makes you a fiercely loyal customer?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!