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  • Writer's pictureMark Olivito

Loyalty Matters and it Follows Relationships

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

I love great service at restaurants, for a few reasons:

  • It complements an experience away from life’s daily grind

  • It is an opportunity to “vote” with your dollars: Great service equals great tip.

  • It matters to the person delivering it. Financially and “life skill building.”

  • It is RARE

I have always loved dining out. It provides a living lab for people trying to make a living and over time, what you see is the brutal reality of the bell curve come to life. It is a fact that a very small % of the people you encounter will be exceptional. Most people would say the far right of the bell curve, the “exceptional” is 15-20% of the population.

The exceptional people tend to be memorable. They make you WANT to come back, not just for the product, but HOW it is delivered, and how they make you FEEL. Business owners are wise to reward these A players, they make them a ton of money and are truly special. In short, they are few in numbers, and they drive the majority of the revenue. Call them the 20% of people that drive 80% of the revenue.

3 especially bright people come to mind over the past 15 years.

1. A waitress at the famous “Tick Tock Diner” in NJ

  • We dined here about 50+ times, always for breakfast over 2 years.

    • She knew our name, knew our baby girl’s name. She gave her a gift on Hope’s 1 year birthday, which was waiting in her car and ready to deliver when we came in.

2. A waitress at a Clifton NJ Italian Joint

  • Dined with her maybe 25+ times over 2 years.

  • She poured a “heavy” glass of wine, and sometimes an extra one “on me sweety!”

  • We cried with her when her sister passed away from a struggle with Cancer.

3. A waiter at a fine dining Memphis establishment, “Flight.”

  • Had only dined here one time, but it was memorable. When we think special occasion, this is now our place.

    • His training on a complicated menu, wine selection was impeccable, as was his demeanor, and genuine caring for the quality of our experience.

A couple of noteworthy learning’s from my list above?

  • Only 3 quickly come to mind. My wife and I have been together for 15 years. For people that dine out at least once a week, that’s a ton of different establishments, let’s say over 150. And 3 are truly memorable?

  • Of the 3, 1 of them made my mental list due to extraordinary skill in his job. The other 2 were certainly competent, but NOT extraordinary in their raw job skills.

  • What made all of them extraordinary? HEARTFELT & GENUINE service, caring and relationship building.

Relationships matter, and they impact the bottom line.

We lived in NJ for 2 years and ate out almost every single Saturday for Breakfast. That’s 75+ breakfasts outside of our home. Was the Tick Tock Diner THAT MUCH better than the 10 other diners within a 5 mile radius of our home? Not at all. The other ones didn’t have “OUR Waitress.”

How about the Italian Joint? Same thing. In a town where there’s Italian food on every corner, there was only one that became “our place.” The one with our favorite waitress. One where we had an emotional connection with.

Product and price will always matter in business, especially restaurants. But service makes the massive difference. Great service is delivered by people that understand RELATIONSHIPS are king.

Loyalty is rewarded AFTER relationships are established, nurtured, and grown over time. All the ads and promotions in the world can’t pull a consumer away from an established relationship. Loyalty drives long term, exceptional revenue that is difficult to compete with.

The only thing that successfully stopped our $’s from flowing to the establishments mentioned above?

A move to another state.

That’s loyalty.

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