The secret is quite simple really. Be nice. Be nice to your customers, be nice to your vendors and most of all, be nice to your staff. This epiphany came to me while waiting in a clients lobby to take them to lunch.
For me, lunch is just lunch. It's not a sales pitch. It's not prying into your decision making. Ok, it's a little bit of networking (i.e. building or strengthening trust and the relationship). But really, I just wanted to take the client to lunch. The only business matter I wanted to bring up was a thank you for how all of my invoices have been paid to the letter and on time, every time.
As I strolled into the lobby, I noticed yet again that the owner of this business never parks in the covered parking. For them, that's customer parking. Let me tell you, in Phoenix with our murderous heat waves, that is a huge gesture. Absolutely no one here would question the owner of any establishment parking in the best available spot. And here in Phoenix, that means in the shade.
In the lobby, I found out the owner was in another building but would be right back. I pulled up a barstool, next to the pool table. Yes, pool table. This business supplies products to the construction industry and sometimes, those orders can take a while to process and/or be loaded. What better way to while away the time than with a friendly game of pool? Contrast that image with the typical lobby or front desk loaded with self promotion or other products that you don't even know you need yet. Yeah, right. Hey, was that electronic dartboard here the last time I was?
Actually, I take it back. Don't just be nice, go above and beyond! Create a lasting impression. Let them know you actually care about them. Care about the written and unwritten agreements between you, your customers, your vendors and your staff. I assure you that they will return the favor.
Lastly, I did get to say thank you, but I didn't get to pay for that lunch.