Nice Doing Business With You
When was the last time you made poached pears for your customer? Never, right? Well it’s time. Or at least it’s time to think of some creative ways to get close to your customers, thank them for the business they send your way, and have them see a side of you that differs from (but enhances) the business professional they have come to know. Remember the old adage: people do business with people they like.
Years ago I used to float freely throughout my customers’ offices.
Dropping off a package here and there.
Saying hello to the guy in the office next door.
Passing by a Vice President who waved me into his office and just happened to remember he had a project or two that would be perfect for me.
But things are very different now. Corporate offices are in lockdown. You need an appointment (and a visitor’s badge) just to enter a building. My roaming days (and casual new business approach) are over.
And remember when you thanked customers for their business by taking them out to expensive restaurants and sending them gift baskets that needed a crane to set them down on their desks?
There are so many business ethics rules today about accepting gifts and restaurant meals that it becomes too risky unless you know the individual office policies.
I was thinking about all of the above last week when I signed up for a free cooking lesson given by my neighborhood Italian BYOB restaurant, Fiorino. The owner and brilliant chef, Franco Faggi, is a very civic minded guy and offers FREE cooking classes several times a year to a lucky group of 12 who can fit into his tiny kitchen.
Everyone in the group turned out to be a customer. We all loved his restaurant and couldn’t wait to see how he created those magical dishes. Ages ranged from a sophomore in college to retirees.
We were in the kitchen working together, patiently taking our turn to stir and taste test, breathing in the fabulous aromas, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. We finally sat down to lunch to enjoy the spoils at 12:45.
In that short time, we grew to know and like each other.
We were sharing an experience that would become a fond memory, and better yet, something we could revisit every time we made one of Franco’s recipes at home.
A thought occurred to me: I should do this with my customers. It’s so much fun and we’re actually learning something that’s useful.
But what if your customer doesn’t like to cook?
How about bowling? It’s a great equalizer. When I get ready to roll a strike, the ball usually lands behind me with a thud. But that’s OK. Huge laughs from all around. But I don’t care. It’s sickening fun (especially when your customer does it too).
Or maybe invite a customer to see a celebrity in person. I once took a customer to hear John Cleese of Monty Python fame speak about leadership. Talk about strange and mesmerizing…
Once we were promoting the opening of a new restaurant for a client so I invited an out-of-state client to be my guest for the evening. She never saw anything like it before and it was a great way to show her another side of our capabilities.
What are you doing with a customer that another customer might appreciate seeing?
I happen to live and work in the Birthplace of our Nation so I will often take out-of-state clients to see historic landmarks like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (where’s the Rocky statue?) when they’re in town.
What’s fun and interesting about your home turf?
But what if your customer isn’t allowed to go on outings or accept gifts?
I love taking photos and will often give a client a framed picture of their child or spouse that I took while at a business or social gathering. They absolutely treasure it.
So what unique ideas can you share to help us all take better care of our customers?
Speaking of sharing, here’s Franco’s recipe for Poached Pears. Enjoy!
Poached Pears (Pere cotte al vino rosso)
Recipe courtesy of Franco Faggi, Fiorino Restaurant, Philadelphia PA
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2+ hours
Cook Time: 20/30 Minutes
▪ (6) Bosc pears
▪ 1-1/2 cups red wine
▪ 1-1/2 cups water
▪ (5) Whole cloves
▪ (2) Cinnamon sticks
▪ ¾ Cup sugar
▪ (1) Lemon (peel only)
▪ (1) Small bay leaf
▪ Vanilla ice cream
▪ Confectioner’s sugar
▪ Fresh mint leaves
Wash the pears, place in a pot (standing up); add wine, water, cloves, cinnamon sticks, lemon peel and sugar. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer until cooked.
Remove pears from the pot and simmer the liquid by half to a sauce consistency; cool.
Plate the (whole) pears with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the side, spoon the sauce over the pear; drizzle some sauce over the ice cream, sprinkle with confectioner sugar and decorate with mint leaves.
Photo Courtesy of Julie Camburn