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How to get a customer for life


Posted in Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Misc, Posts by

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Photo by Jason Schultz
About six months ago, I found this amazing car service that I use when I have to go to the San Francisco airport, which is about 20-30 mins away from where I live. The normal options for getting to the airport are mass transit, driving your own car, or taking a cab. Of these, taking a cab is the most convenient, once you manage to get a cab. But this can be a hassle, especially if you’re leaving at odd hours, since cabs frequently don’t even show up when you call them.

But this car service has been amazing; they drive late model SUVs and town cars, are exceedingly polite, and end being cheaper than a cab ride. Most importantly, they’ve never even been late, let alone not shown up.

Thanks to this level of service for the past year or so, they’re already my favorite choice for getting to the airport. But recently they bumped it up to a whole new level, ensuring that I’ll be a loyal customer as long as I live in San Francisco.

I took a trip recently at the last minute, so I called and arranged for a pickup in a few hours. They showed up at the normal time and we were off. Normally, I pay in cash, but I didn’t have any on me at the time, so I asked if they took cards. Normally, they do, but their machine was down. So I offered to jump out at an ATM and get some cash.

After a second of consideration, the driver asked me if I was coming back to San Francisco. I told him I’d be back in a few days, and he told me to just pay him for it then.

Now, let me be clear: this guy doesn’t really know me; he doesn’t even have my name or my phone number. I owe him almost $50 (with tip) at this point, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that I’m not going to just walk.

I occasionally have someone at a shop in the neighborhood do something like this, but usually when I’m buying a gallon of milk and I’m short fifty cents or something. I don’t think I’ve ever had this happen for more than a couple bucks.

I don’t know if his trust is overall a good idea, I don’t know if it works for all businesses, and I don’t know if it scales, but I do know that I enjoy being treated like a human being and being given the benefit of the doubt. Given the way I’ve been treated by this company, why would I ever use anyone else?

What’s the best experience you’ve ever had with a company, one that turned you from a casual fan to a diehard loyalist?

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6 Responses to “How to get a customer for life”

  1. NikitaVorontsov says:

    Hello,
    My dentist charges me less the more I use her services. Being loyal customer 9+ years already.
    Regards

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ryan Waggoner and Y Combinator Newest!, breizh2008. breizh2008 said: RT @ryanwaggoner: How to get a customer for life http://bit.ly/flhB0v [...]

  3. Lee says:

    I like being treated human also. This is a great example of someone being remarkable.

    When I lived in LA there was a neighborhood store called Jackson Market. One morning I nkticed another customer say "put it on my tab." she circumvented the line and the checkout entirely and held her items above her head. Then she just walked out. Wow I thought.

    It turns out Tony, the owner offered a tab to everyone in the neighborhood.

    For years I stopped in nearly every morning to pick up donuts and coffee.I would walk in choose my items and then hold them up, say "put it on my tab" and walk out. Their was always a line so this saved at least a few minutes everyday. That's about an hour a month!

    They trusted I would come back and pay. I trusted that they would only ad my items to the tab.

    Soon I started having lunch there and bringing friends. I averaged $200 every couple weeks. Sometimes when I'm in LA, I even stop in to say hello.

    P.S. He knows where you live.

  4. Chantella says:

    Great story! There is a local "hole in the wall" pub and grill here and one evening we had stopped by for a spell. Something came up and I had to run and pick up a friend with car trouble. I went to pay the tab and explained why we were leaving so suddenly when the bartender asked if we would come back after we helped my friend. I told her that we would because the night was still young so she told me just to take care of it when we came back that night. I sense a trend here: seems like the best experiences like this are at local business that have more personal service.

  5. asisearth says:

    Definitely a keeper! I always take special notice of businesses that exhibit honesty in their practices. If they are unable to give you resolve in the business matter, they lay out possible options that meet your needs, which may be more feasible (time or costs) for the consumer.

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