Last weekend my wife and I had tickets to Cabaret, starring Alan Cummings, most recently popular in The Good Wife, and Michelle Williams, another well- known motion picture actor. We both were eagerly looking forward to the performance, humming the tunes in our heads all week. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see that show, but instead watched a perfect performance on how to get repeat business.
Per our usual MO, we arrived early. Not really planning to have lunch but because we had time on our hands, we decided to get a bite to eat before the show and noticed a pub across from the theater called Characters. Opening the door to Characters, we knew we were in for a treat. The bartender, whose smile was as big as the circular bar itself, greeted us with a big hello even though he was serving other customers. We knew immediately that here was a happy person and eager to engage with people in the restaurant. Liam introduced himself and told us that Siobhan would show us to a table.
Siobhan was a lovely young woman with a pleasant Irish accent who asked where we would like to sit. She was so attentive, polite, and smiling that, without even a conversation, made us feel so welcomed. It was obvious that our business was appreciated.
Characters is a small place so it was easy to see and hear the other customers. A couple walked in and Liam said, “welcome back.” They were spending the weekend in New York City, from New Jersey, and it was their first time seeing a Broadway show. Liam asked if they enjoyed Jersey Boys. There are hundreds of restaurants in New York but the couple from New Jersey returned to Characters because Liam was there and they felt welcomed.
Siobhan reviewed the specials of the day for us and catered to our every request; water with no ice, lemons on the side. She asked us in a caring and not meddlesome way if we were going to see Cabaret and replied, “ that’s great!” We shared that my wife loved Alan Cummings and couldn’t wait to see the show. Siobhan informed us that she had heard one of the main actors was so sick on Friday evening that the show had been cancelled. She wasn’t sure who was ill, but asked Liam, who said it was Alan. We were upset because he was sick and wouldn’t be starring in Cabaret that day. Armed with this information, my wife went across the street to inquire about the actor’s health. Sad but true; the understudy would be performing. Because it was early, we were able to exchange our tickets for another day. Without Siobhan’s interest, it would have been too late to change our plans.
Disappointed that we couldn’t see the performance, we decided that being at Characters made the day ok. While the staff at Characters were not professional actors, they were Welcomers and played their parts to perfection. Liam and Siobhan were friendly, engaging and personal and treated us as if were long time friends.
We missed seeing the play that Sunday, but found a new place to eat where we knew our business would always be appreciated. Too many establishments don’t understand that repeat business can be easily obtained. It takes hiring the right people and training them to be engaging and interested. Customers are people first. Keeping good staff on the payroll provides continuity so customers will want to return.
Our tickets for Cabaret are in three weeks. We will definitely return to see Liam and Siobhan. I guarantee they will recognize us as soon as we enter the restaurant and give us those big smiles and welcoming looks. We’re returning for a repeat performance. We already saw the previews: Customer Retention at Its Best.