I got a hair cut this morning and as I was leaving the barber shop I had the same thought I always have when I leave the barber shop. "Wow that is one God awful haircut, but I love my barber".
I have been going to the same barber for over seven years now and he is quite possibly the worst in Seattle. I won't tell you his name for fear of angering a man who wields sharp objects near my head. Suffice it to say he is a Lebanese born man in his mid 50's.
Keep in mind, cutting my hair is not all that difficult of a process. You slap a #2 attachment to a pair of clippers and go to town, and yet still he manages to make a mistake or two each time. Sometimes it is a clump of hair over my ear that was missed, sometimes he takes a chunk out of the back leaving a small but noticeable divot. Once he actually clipped my ear and made it bleed for a few minutes.
So why do I go back? I love the guy. He is fascinating. Grew up and lived in a war torn middle eastern country. Has stories that would make your hair (pun intended) turn white. Culturally he is dramatically different from me. We talk endlessly about the difference he sees between America and his home land. We talk about his children and the struggles he has to raise them in a foreign culture. He is endlessly good natured and friendly. He knows me, my life and my business. I have also gotten to know him, met many members of his family and remember and bring up issues he is having with them, and his business. In short, we have become friends over time.
Because the guy is friendly and interesting. He genuinely seems happy to see me each month, listens and shares stories and advice open and honestly. He is a great guy, and month after month year after year I go back. I risk the minor nicks and cuts. Endure having to go home and reshape certain spots he overlooked, all because I cherish the experience. He is comfortable familiar and I like going to him.
So what's the point. As I left today a thought occurred to me. What am I doing in my business that fosters the same feeling of loyalty and, dare I say it, love, from my customers? What am I doing to make them so loyal that even if I miss trim their bangs from time to time, they will keep them coining back.
Here is my list of things to do.
•1. Take a genuine interest in everyone in front of me. Clients friends, family, acquaintances and strangers alike.
•2. Never treat anyone like a client. The closing is secondary and they will come if you treat people correctly.
•3. Truly make their interests mine. That includes telling a client that now is not the best time to sell their home, or that that they can't afford the house they truly desire.
•4. Take the time to get to know them. Understand their needs, wants and dreams, before I ever act on their behalf.
•5. Listen intently.
•6. Share honestly.
•7. Ignore the outcome. Paychecks are temporary. Loyalty is forever.
If you build it. They will come.
So good by for now my friend. I'll be back next month. But don't worry even if you take another chunk out of my ear, I'll still come back. Some things are more important than perfection.
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