I don’t join clubs. A good restaurant with regulars, a bar with comfortable stools, a friendly tender, and host that recognizes visitors returning more than twice will get me to join, regularly. However, on occasion I enjoy encompassing myself in the ambience of rooms overstuffed with overstuffed leather chairs. Those who sat before me, in those low-to-the-ground pedestals of wealth – realistic and pseudo, monetary and mental – must have found comfort in the aged hide. They pay astronomical dues for the comfort of being members.
Continually encouraging one to spend sizeable amounts of cash in order to mingle with neighbors, business associates, partners, friends and enemies is a monumental accomplishment. For most clubs it means more than just unlocking the fortress door each morning and waiting for members to line up and join.
About a year ago, I joined The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. I wanted to attend Ted Turner’s presentation of his new book, “Call me Ted” – BTW, a fascinating read- it outlines how he became involved in Ted’s Montana Grill – and it was financially wise to join the club to get the reduced rate for Ted’s appearance along with other sought after future speakers.
After registering to see Turner I began getting regular pieces of encouragement to renew my membership. All clubs do this, especially the non profits depending on membership to keep the boat floating. As my membership becomes closer to lapsing, my mailbox plays host to more Com Club membership encouragement. I have seldom taken advantage of my Commonwealth Club membership, yet, they correspond as though we were room mates in college, recently renewing our friendship through snail mail.
With a mailbox full of enticements from people I seldom see or know I realize the competition for disposable income dollars has heightened since Bernie and the bankers did what bankers like Bernie do under a different cloak of commerce.
It also made me wonder why I never see any letters, cards, or gifts from my restaurant friends. Or, my restaurant enemies. Now, I really don’t expect a mailbox full of complimentary certificates. And, in my world, an invitation to a wine dinner is not that exciting, anymore. But, after pondering the industry in
It may be too early for New Year’s resolutions, and the thought of planning 2010 before we get the final word on the recession being over is frightening. Nonetheless, it may be time to begin developing a campaign to encourage customer retention. There is still time. There are still two weeks to Christmas.
It may not be the best year to hold that customer Christmas party, with the free apps, open bar, and entr?e buffet line that extends for miles. But a simple card, hand written, with a note to stop in over the holidays for a complimentary drink, or app, or dessert, may be the one thing that separates you from your competition. It doesn’t need to be expensive, or fancy, or filled with jubilant frolic of days past. It simply needs to thank those regulars for coming in and offering them something as simple as a token.
Early last Saturday I stopped at the post office in
I couldn’t help but wonder what a nice tradition a snail mail card was. I reminisced about how Kranston would send out Christmas cards to our best customers with small trinkets of seasonal joy attached.
After walking out of the post office, I wondered if the guy I had just helped owned a restaurant as few people I know have two hundred or so friends. Then I realized, I think I saw him at that club…