What does mopping floors, emptying trash and frying eggs have to do with marketing? Probably nothing, but two lessons learned while doing it has a lot to do with it.

My first job back in the early 70’s was at Marty’s Luncheonette in Bergenfield, NJ. Marty was a real entrepreneur and supported his family by operating a very busy ‘breakfast and lunch’ restaurant. He did everything from cooking, cleaning, ordering supplies, advertising and waiting on his loyal customers. He did this six days a week from 6 AM to 5 PM.

I would show up for work after school. When I started there I cleaned. Then I graduated from cleaning to waiting on the counter as well. From there I graduated to actually being a (novice) short-order cook. This was all before my 16th birthday. Unknowingly at the time I learned a lot about business from Marty. As I reflect back there are two lessons he taught me that are universal to any business.

One day while busily emptying a trash can or something like that, Marty pulled me aside and pointed to someone waiting impatiently at the counter. He told me, “Bill, when someone sits down at the counter immediately pour them a cup of coffee. They will then know that you know they’re their. They’ll read the paper, look at the menu or chat with other customers. The key thing is that you will have bought yourself some time and the customer will be content.” The lesson learned here is that when someone has taken the time to enquire about your business and has reached out, immediately engage them; don’t make them wait. When I was the VP of Sales and Marketing at Golden-Gate Technologies (a CRM systems integrator) we used this analogy internally. All sales people were directed to engage IMMEDIATELY and all projects managers needed to incorporate “coffee time” into their project plans. The project managers had to account for the fact that at any time they could be pulled away for a day to meet with a potential new client. IBM Global Services became our largest client because the entire company bought into the concept of “coffee time” and my many competitors did not.

On another occasion Marty pulled me aside again. He motioned to someone standing and waiting at the cash register. He then told me, “When someone is at the cash register waiting to pay, drop what you’re doing and take their money. Nobody should ever have to wait to pay.” And you know, he was right. The universal translation of this lesson is: Be easy to do business with. Adapt to your sales processes to your customers’ buying processes. If somebody wants to buy your product or service, make it real easy for them to get it.

My temptation now is to rant about how annoying t is when I’m seated at a restaurant table and the host doesn’t immediately take my drink order (lost revenue), or when the meal is done how long it takes to pay, but that is off-topic. Just remember Marty’s two lessons:

1)      Engage immediately when you’ve got a ‘live one’

2)      Be easy to do business with by adapting to your customers’ buying processes

ThruTheNoise at gmail do com