Most people will say no, of course not, that they would never turn away business, never mind loyal business … but it is something we see more often than we should.
People who connect with your business, for one reason or another, are a powerful way to grow your business, through their positive word of mouth, and yet, time and again, we see businesses shoot that gift horse in the mouth.
A few blocks from where I live is a Thai Bar & Restaurant. They have large, flat screen tvs, international flags, sporting paraphenalia and $2 beer. As you can expect, this set up attracts plenty of people looking to watch sports games while having some good food and cheap beer. They were doing a roaring trade during the last few weeks of the Baseball World Series, which the San Francisco Giants eventually won. But, for some reason, instead of imbracing the hoards of people who came to watch the games and spend (lots) of money, signs were put up saying “Please don’t call us a sports bar“. This seems crazy to me. They had gained a loyal audience willing to spend money and instead of embracing them (and owning up to the fact that they had in fact created a sports bar environment) they shut down that avenue and were reprimanding people for calling them a sports bar. This when most other premises were desperately trying to attract half the kind of crowds that the Thai place had succeeded in attracting.
In 2006 we saw a similar situation with the champagne Cristal. Cristal had become popular among the rapper community and the champagne was frequently referenced in music videos. Instead of Cristal embracing this loyal following (and the amazing publicity they were being offered!) they turned their back on it. Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louis Roederer, the company behind Cristal said in an interview “what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.” This resulted in a boycott of the brand, organised by Jay Z. It seems crazy that a brand would deliberately want to prevent people from spending money on their product. At the end of the day don’t all businesses want to sell their product?
So, I’ll ask again … would you turn away loyal business?
I hope not. But perhaps you should check who your customers are … and maybe you aren’t trying to dictate what your customers can call you, and maybe you aren’t forbidding certain customers from purchasing your products … but if you aren’t embracing your customers, and rewarding them for their loyalty, then maybe you need to think about ways you could.
Bottom line … without customers we’re all out of business, and in this economy who can afford that?