I’ve been trying to “take my mind off things” by reading a book. Mayflower Madam is out of print, and I picked up a copy on eBay the other week. It arrived the day my mom died.
Needless to say it took me a minute to get around to reading it.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the story (it was in the 1980’s after all), Sydney Biddle Barrows, well-heeled socialite, built a successful “escort” service in Manhattan – and was busted after about 5 years of serving the “John” Q. Public in style.
Now I haven’t finished the book yet, but my first big takeaway was a comment in the early chapters of the book: treat your people with respect – customers, employees, etc. and they will reciprocate.
More to the point, when you treat them with respect and appreciation for how they serve your business, they will be more willing to do anything to make you happy.
I have 3 very recent examples that drive this point home.
After completing a recent in-home party for my company, I mentioned that my grandfather had passed and that I would not likely be available for a few days to tend to the arrangements. The hostess was very understanding – and we got 3 bookings at that party for her.
One of the soon-to-be hostesses called me a few days later to provide me her guest list over the phone. I returned her call and sad that my mother had also passed, and that I would greatly appreciate it if she would just mail the list to me and I would still give her the special offer for getting the list back to me in 3 days’ time.
Two days ago, I was out making deliveries to touch base with customers and hostesses, and I apologized for my tardiness in delivering because of the death of my mother. I mentioned that I would be at the funeral the next day, so to call and leave a message if there were any issues.
Yesterday morning, I received a call from that hostess. She said she was “in the neighborhood” and had something for me. When she arrived at my door, she had baked sliced and wrapped some home-made banana bread. I was dumbfounded.
At the church, when we were wrapping up and heading out the door, I walked into the kitchen, where at least 10 volunteers were cleaning up from the dinner held in mom’s honor. I wanted to make a point to tell them thank-you, because many of them knew my mom, and while she wasn’t always the easiest to get along with, I know they respected her and cared at least enough to give of their time and elbow grease to help comfort and feed her family and friends. Many of them could have been on the other side of the kitchen, sitting with us and telling stories about mom.
As I offered my thanks, one of the grumpiest of the men in the church turned to me and said “You are always welcome here, Lisa.” Again, speechless.
Which, if you know me, is virtually impossible.
I’m skipping over a lot of details here, but as I stopped at home to drop off a bouquet of flowers, I checked the mail. In with the bills and usual junk (which, I love, by the way), there was a card from someone I didn’t recognize. The would-be hostess that I had asked to mail her guest list had slipped that list inside a sympathy card, with a thoughtful personal note attached.
I’ve never spoken so few words in a a day in my whole life.
It’s unfortunate that it takes an event like a funeral to give you a perspective about what matters – and to whom you matter. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of people – some I barely even know – who came to provide support and encouragement just for me – because I know no one else in my family knew who they were.
We packed that church – which is lucky to have 30-40 people on a Sunday morning. People were parking on the street because there was “no room at the inn” so to speak.
And I am so grateful to each and every one of them. I’m sure I didn’t say hello to everyone, but I am truly blessed to know that I and my family matter to so many people. I am so grateful for all the kind words, donations, and thoughtful gifts.
I didn’t deserve any of it. I am infinitely grateful for it.
So our marketing lesson (not to be disrespectful of my mom’s passing, but I needed to share this while it was still fresh) is this:
Give freely of yourself – to your customers, clients, employees. Make them feel respected and equal – and treat them like friends. The rewards will come back to you ten times over. I’ve said it before, but it’s true: friendliness is the root of all good things. The more friendly you are, the more genuine respect and appreciation you will garner.
You can’t do any better than that. It takes time, but all things worth doing are worth doing well.
Be on the lookout for some big changes in the coming months, as I start assessing what’s important to me in light of these recent events.