A Customer Loyalty Story

Do You Know What Drives Your Customers To Be Loyal?

I’m taking a break from my new book series because who doesn’t like to eat? If you said you, stop reading right now, you won’t get the point. Assuming you answered in the affirmative and are still reading let me share a secret with you…my wife and I eat out a lot, and we have been doing so since getting married in 1983. When we moved to Phoenix we embarked on a journey to find new good restaurants and over the years we sure have found a long list of favorites. We found our favorite restaurants that serve Mexican, Cuban, Indian, etc. But I want to share a particular path in the journey.

We love Italian food, as many of you do. Our first visit to an Italian restaurant near our home in North Phoenix was excellent. The wine was great (an excellent Pinot Grigio from Italy), the food was excellent, and the service also left us full and happy as we walked out of the place…very satisfied. The next time we went out for Italian we went with friends that took us to their favorite place. Again, we walked out full and happy. Unfortunately, neither of those restaurants are still around, but restaurants come and go.

For years we kept going to different restaurants, once in a while returning to one that we had gone to before. I cannot remember a single instance of leaving any of those restaurants disappointed. Rather every time we were happy saying something like “that was really good”. Then we had kids. Don’t get me wrong, kids are wonderful, but they tend to change the quality of the food you eat in a negative way. Nonetheless, we continued to go out frequently (we were determined not to let our kids get in the way of the normal life we had built before them…. please stop laughing).

As for Italian? One day we found ourselves at a restaurant that a) got us in quickly with young kids on a Friday at dinner time; b) was noisy so our 3 and 5 year old could be noisy and it didn’t bother anyone (this was very atypical for Italian restaurants); c) had dishes everyone in the family thought were awesome; d) brought my kids dough to play with while we waited so they did not focus on the bread…they even let them put it into the pizza oven behind the counter and watch it “grow” and then let them eat the final product. The service was very friendly and efficient, too. And the cost was very reasonable and even cheap compared to most Italian restaurants we had been to.

Guess what? The next time we all wanted Italian where do you think we went? The kids ASKED to go there, and we were happy to accommodate them. In fact, my kids are now in their mid-twenties and to this day we regularly go to the same place when we “do” Italian as a family. Our parents have also been “indoctrinated” and love the place. Before I tell you the name of this restaurant I want to point out one major thing…. they have been around and growing for decades, unlike those first awesome restaurants we had gone to. Who is this success?

Carrabba’s! Now I know what you are thinking, there are tons of Italian restaurants that have much better food than Carrabba’s. You are absolutely correct. But the magical experience they created for our family obviously has been repeated over and over again for thousands of others given their continued growth and long-term success. You see, loyal customers not only come back time after time after time…after time, but they also tell all their friends, family and acquaintances about their experience. I have not only gone to Carrabba’s over and over again, but have used the same vet for my pets for 30 years, my dentist for 29 years (it took us a year to find someone we really liked), my insurance agent for 20 years (the one before retired), my auto mechanic for 26 years. There are others I tell everyone about, too. That is free advertising that is also the best type of advertising…and endorsement from a trusted source.

Your challenge month week? What are you doing to generate real customer loyalty?

Mitchell Bolnick – The Excel Consulting Group