We all do business with our friends because we like them. We all like to be treated well and having the peace of mind of doing business with people we trust. That is what doing business with your friends is all about. Those friends make sure we get great service; quality products and our needs are taken care of. We also do enjoy contributing to their success. I’m often taken back when friends or friends of friends ask business owners if they can “hook them up.” In most case these requests come from individuals who have never owned their own business. What kind of friend decides whether to do business with you based on what type of deal or discount you will give them. I certainly don’t have a huge number of friends, and I can always use another good friend, but I’m not willing to buy a friend by giving away my services. I give the same great quality service to my friends, as I do with my other customers.
I’d like to introduce you to Carl Comer. Carl was a good friend who owned and operated the Runaway Inn, a B&B/Hunt Club located in the eastern Colorado town of Joes. Carl was the ultimate host, he was everyone’s friend and if you weren’t, once you arrived you soon were. The Runaway Inn was a unique place located on the eastern plains of Colorado, a mere one hundred of miles from Denver. Spending time relaxing with Carl and his family in the homey setting of the Runaway Inn was a real treat.
I remember lunch on my first visit to the Runaway Inn, it was a cold day and when we came in, from hunting, for lunch there was a warm fire and we were served a hot bowl of Prime Rib soup with homemade bread fresh from the oven served family style with a dozen or so of other guests and staff. From that moment I was hooked, as were hundreds of other guests with similar experiences.
Carl could never bring himself to charge his friends, and everyone was his friend. Literally tens of thousands of dollars were given away, maybe as much as hundred thousand dollars.If you’re a fan of the movie Paint Your Wagon you will remember a fortune in gold dust falling through the floor of the town’s establishments, and ultimately the town caved in as the residents dug underneath the town to capture all the gold. Thus is the story of the Runaway Inn.
Carl died of a heart attack in 2010 within a few months after closing his business. The Runaway Inn and quite possibly Carl would be alive and thriving today if the value of the services the business delivered were properly charged for. Your friends will support your business because they like you, you offer a product or service they value, and you recognize them as being important to you when they come to your business.
If you feel the need to provide something extra, do so with something over and above what your friends purchase from you. If you sell skis, give them a free tune-up that costs you but a little time. If you’re in the campground business give them a free bundle of firewood. You can also provide them with a high margin product that they will benefit from, and will buy from you in the future.