Loyalty is hard to understand and even harder to achieve.
For me, I can only think of two brands I’m truly loyal to, Nike and SWAT Health (my gym). And, when I say loyal, I actually am. I don’t wear Adidas anymore. In fact, I gave away my Ultra Boosts because I only align myself with Nike. As for exercising, sure I go to the occasional Barry’s Bootcamp but I wouldn’t allow anyone else to train me other than the trainers at SWAT Health.
Other than these two brands, I can’t think of any brand I’m truly loyal to. Not my grocery store, not my dry cleaner…the only reason I’m loyal to my bank is because undoing that relationship seems too labour intensive for me.
As for my employees, I would like to believe they know I’m loyal to them. I invest in our relationships and in their development just like I would invest in spending time with my mother or my girlfriend, Sophia.
But, when and why does loyalty falter when doing business with our customers, employees, and suppliers?
I believe we have a mutually binding agreement when we go into business together:
Loyalty falters when one party isn’t meeting halfway.
If our customers start behaving poorly then we may decline to service them.
If our employees consistently call in sick to work when they aren’t, then we move to replace them.
If our suppliers start delivering their products, the same ones we use to operate our business, at a higher price, we shout “Bait and Switch!” and end our relationship.
I was recently listening to The Corp podcast which featured Mark Mastrov as their guest.
Mark built the globally recognized chain of gyms, 24 Hour Fitness. During the podcast, he mentioned something that made me go back and listen again.
He said, “The purpose of loyalty is to earn and keep it. It’s not everlasting.”
I’ve seen companies front-load their loyalty efforts.
What I mean is that they will shower their new customers with attention and gifts. They will also onboard new employees exceptionally during the first few weeks of employment. But, then it ends…
Imagine if I courted Sophia, my girlfriend, secured the date, wooed her for weeks, won her over then everything stopped. I don’t need Sophia to tell you that I wouldn’t have her loyalty and our relationship would soon end.
This is exactly what’s happening in our businesses! We are treating them like transactions.
I want to erase the gap between how we behave in our personal lives and how we do in our professional lives to earn loyalty.
When our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, siblings, best friends, or extended family need something from us, we go out of our way to give it to them.
We don’t hesitate.
Whether that’s hiring a tutor for our kids or picking up our friends from the airport when they need a ride.
We do it because it’s a natural reflex for us to help people close to us.
On the contrary. When our team members need something we ask ourselves: “What’s the ROI?”
Try this on for size…
What’s the ROI of giving a crap about doing something for the people who actually grow our businesses??!!
My partners and I have nearly 200 employees and most customers don’t know who we are, nor do they care.
They care about the people with who they are interacting with.
Our team members on the frontline of our business.
With this in mind, we should be doing everything possible to give them what they need to win over customers and pave a path for them.
An investment in your people is an investment in loyalty.