As I've recently mentioned here, I was on the hunt for a local printing and mailing company here in Phoenix as part of my shopping spree during Independents Week. I ended up sending several request for quotes to a few local companies. One in particular stood out by offering special pricing, considering my low volume of advertising, and offering to help me in any way.
During my first meeting with the company, the account executive said to me "we are not just interested in this job, we are interested in your repeat business." He's not kidding. He knew full well that if I liked their work, I might come back. He knew that I'm a small business today, but I might be a bigger business tomorrow. He knew that if my advertising was successful, I might return with additional work for them. I might even give them a referral.
This struck home for me even further when I received a knock at the front door of my home today. The owner of the golf course surrounding my community, wanted to discuss his efforts to re-develop the driving range into office condos. His driving range fronts Baseline Road very near where the planned 202 South Mountain Freeway is expected to be built. He clearly needs neighborhood support, because no one bought in this community expecting rezoning of any part of the golf course. The problem was, all I could focus on while listening to his arguments, was our last conversation in his pro shop.
I had shown up for a round of golf with two friends, on a holiday Monday. I have a membership at the course which allows me to play for free, if I'm walking, or you have to pay a cart fee of $15 to ride. During the membership sign up period, an informal deal was made with homeowners who owned golf carts, that they did not have to pay the cart fee. I had shown up with a neighbors cart, as I had done numerous times before, to avoid the cart fee. Today, that was a problem.
There was some nervous hemming and hawing about my use of a neighbors cart and how that violated the spirit of the informal agreement. I would be allowed to do it, this one last time .... but next time, I would have to pay the cart fee. Not a problem, I understand. Problem is... the golf course did not understand the concept of repeat business.
Unfortunately, for the golf course, I have not been back to play since this exchange. This also means that I have not brought any other (paying) players with me. We haven't bought lunch during or after a round. I haven't hit one bucket of balls at the driving range either. The golf course was more interested in the $15, that I was apparently denying them, than any business I might bring in for them.
It's a shame, really. Hopefully, next time you are faced with such a decision on a customer, you will remember that repeat business is the best business to have.