The tale of two bars at 1850m. A reminder about maximising long term value.

25th January 2018

Gavin Preston

Be Inspired


I have recently returned from a week’s skiing with my family in Austria.  Our youngest child is still a baby so my wife and I took it in turns to ski and look after the baby.  There are two mountain top restaurants/bars at this resort.  In the morning, I would enjoy coffee with water chasers in one such bar and then an early lunch as my wife skied.  In the afternoon, my wife would take our baby to the other bar restaurant and have lunch and spend the afternoon there as I attempted to ski.

After a couple of days, I observed the manager at the ‘morning’ bar directing his staff to move us inside to the back corner and away from tables with the best view.  Then throughout that morning the service I received was less friendly to the point that I started to feel less than welcome.

In contrast, the guy serving us down at the other restaurant was very happy and friendly, grabbed the high chair whenever he saw my wife arrive and delivered friendly service throughout the afternoon.  On the same day that I had received a less than warm welcome at the ‘morning bar’ the waiter at the other place turned to look me straight in the eye when I paid the bill, and said smiling “we will see you tomorrow won’t we?” A small and yet genuine gesture in stark contrast to his peers a few hundred yards away and one which secured our business morning and afternoon for the rest of the week.  We had spent approximately the same amount of money with him as we had in the top bar in the morning but he secured all of our business for the rest of the week and the other bar encouraged us to leave.

Of course, I understand that some tables are ‘prime real estate’ in restaurants/bars, particularly those with the best view, and any bar/restaurant manager would want to maximise occupancy with a high turnover of big spending groups. But during the morning the bar was all but empty and I had left before the lunch time rush so his presumed reasoning of freeing up premium tables to higher paying groups was not found to be true.

For me, the business phrase that came to mind was ‘life time customer value’.  The guy in the ‘afternoon’ restaurant made us feel very welcome, made a point of letting us know how welcome we were and over the week secured more business from us than the short-term view of the other bar manager moving us from seats surrounded by many other prime seats that were empty.

It is often the little things that make such an impact and get the customer coming back. A few years ago I did some work with a sizeable Ford dealership group, owned by Ford GB.  I remember a story of a dealership that used to give a type of cuddly bear with every car purchased.  One year the dealership had run out of bears and a disappointed customer wanted to know when she would get her bear as she had been back 7 times over the years to buy a new car from them and had got quite fond of her bear collection.  Pay attention to the little things that make the customer experience remarkable.

More and more in business I am hearing the language of ‘partnership’ whether that be our customers looking for suppliers they can partner with over time or suppliers looking to achieve the same quality of relationship with us.  There is a genuine desire to build strong mutually beneficial relationships that deliver value and last.

Always look to build the relationship. Encourage your team to do the same.  Bring your best to those business relationships and you will maximise the value to both sides over time…and of course will be getting people saying positive things about you.

Needless to say when we go back to the same resort next year we will be frequenting the lower restaurant/bar….life time customer value.

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