And He Doesn’t Even Call It “Networking”

Charlie owns a restaurant.

Charlie’s new restaurant opened two months ago, in the office complex where a friend works north of Wilmington, Delaware. I’d previously declared the site bad restaurant magic, because in two years my friend has watched three cafés tank there. If you’ve ever worked in the restaurant business, you may know that belief in restaurant voodoo is strong—many professionals won’t move in to a location that’s had more than one or two failures in it. It’s not voodoo, of course, it’s a combination of location, which may be bad to begin with, and the lasting image in potential customers’ minds of the horrors of past restaurants that were located there.

That’s a discussion for another day.

I first heard about Charlie on his opening day, when he came by personally to introduce himself to my friend, and hand out a menu from his new place just hours before he was scheduled to open. A restaurateur who is so confident that he can walk away for an hour on opening day is my kind of guy. The story stuck with me.

I’d nearly forgotten about Charlie when he came by my friend’s office with a fresh menu, to say hello and let them know it was his one-month anniversary. Naturally, friend reported this event to me, because he saw there was a story in it. Now they look forward to chatting with Charlie.

Has Charlie been reading the Maximum Customer Experience Blog?  🙂

How Charlie gets customers jazzed

1. He visits frequently enough but not too often: Right about when they might have forgotten him otherwise

2. He comes by with a relevant, positive, non-pushy message: “Brought you a new menu, just a reminder that it’s our one-month anniversary”

3. He comes at the perfect time to capture hungry office workers: After they’ve settled in, but well before lunch so they have time to think about trying out Charlie’s (since he’s such a nice guy and all)

What’s the ROI of all this great effort?

Have you eaten at Charlie’s? I ask. Um, no, he says sheepishly. I try to go home for lunch most of the time.



Nearly everyone I work with, and almost every person I’ve told about meeting Charlie (and I’ve told quite a few), has. I’ve heard back from them. Trust me, the word-of-mouth has been way better than if I’d wandered over for a turkey sandwich myself, he tells me.

So Charlie—I’m pulling for you, man. You’re doing a lot of things right. And the funny thing is, now that I’m writing about it, I can feel good magic working on me. I’m gonna have to drag my friend out of his home-for-lunch routine and we’ll both go try it out.

We can learn a lot from Charlie.

Does reaching out like Charlie sound like a lot of work, or a way to be friendly and see beyond your own front door? How could you benefit from extending your reach so naturally?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson