Craving For Loyal Customers?

10 Nov

Make your customers not only addicted to what you sell but how you sell it.

I am a self-proclaimed pizza-holic.  I consume a pizza a week almost every week. I even got my wife hooked. We can’t stop.

To my good fortune, Antonio’s New York Pizzeria is a few miles from my home. Antonio’s is one of the best pizza restaurants in Hawaii, and I became one of their best customers.

Every Friday on the way home from work, I would call Antonio’s from the speed dialer in my car and order dinner for my wife and me.

I was such a regular I knew exactly when to call to place my order while in traffic, so it would be piping hot and ready to be picked up when I arrived at the restaurant. I would quickly slip the pie into my insulated pizza delivery case and race home.

I love the smell of a new car, but it does not compare to the smell of a simmering hot Antonio’s Special,  in the front seat.

Everyone at Antonio’s knew me, including the owner, a former professional wrestler.  I’m not going to use his name in this post because he knows me and is a former professional wrestler.

For safety reasons lets just call him Mr. T.

In addition to my Friday night pizza fix, I often took friends there for dinner. I’m guessing I must have introduced well over two dozen people to Antonio’s, and Mr. T knew it.

Treat all your customers well but treat your best ones better.

I was not only a loyal customer to Antonio’s; I was an Antonio’s evangelist. Mr. T, however, never saw it that way.  If he did, I did not know it, because he never thanked me for my business or referrals.

Oh sure, he or the cashier would provide the customary “thank you” after I paid for my order, but I never felt like a special customer. Mr. T never came up to my table to ask (in front of my guests) how I liked dinner or if there is anything he could do for me.

Was I looking for attention; did I have abandonment issues as a child and seeking approval?

Yes, to the first part of the questions, and I don’t think so, to the second part.

Wise man once said, “Spend every day as if it is your last, and treat your best customers well, or they won’t last”.

Whole Foods Market opened across the street from Antonio’s four or five years ago and besides offering free range chicken and organic apples, sells pizza in their ready-to-eat section. The pizza is to die for so I quickly added them to my speed dialer and soon was able to time my order with where I was in traffic, so my pick-up time was just right.

What happened to my sense of loyalty to Antonio’s?

What about our memories together; those dinners at the restaurant with friends; all those take-out orders enjoyed at home? Didn’t that count for anything?

I gave and gave to Antonio’s but didn’t get anything back (except my order). I didn’t feel loved.

Just once, Mr. T could have offered me a free refill, even though the sign over the Coke dispenser said NO FREE REFILLS.  Just once, Mr. T could have given me a complimentary pitcher of root beer when I filled up his place with my friends.

How about just a “thanks Alan for bringing in your friends, I really appreciate it,” remark.

Would I have still cheated on Mr. T if he treated me as one of his best customers?  Perhaps on occasion…but Whole Foods would not have been able to wrestle me away from Antonio’s if Mr. T made me feel like his place was mine.

Ever watch the popular TV series “Cheers” back in the eighties? It was a bar where everyone knew your name. The regulars would have never left Sam if a bar across the street opened and served colder beer. To the regulars, Cheers was their place.

Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of your business comes from 20% of the customers.  Be sure to make that 20% loyal.



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3 Responses to “Craving For Loyal Customers?”

  1. James D. Roumeliotis November 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    Well done! Your article has all the right toppings. It costs more to obtain new customers than it does to retain your existing ones.

    I look forward to your subsequent articles on marketing, branding, and the customer experience.

  2. Ron Martin November 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    YES! Treasured customers need to be treated as such. I have a friend in California that has loaned money to six restaurants. He doesn’t expect to get the money back, but he does enjoy his “ready table” and “no tab” treatment when he takes guests to dinner, which he does quite often.

  3. Kiman Wong November 14, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    I usually don’t like based on true life stories but this one sounds so real that I know you must have lived this one. Great article. Keep on writing.

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