The Lido Shuffle!


The Lido Shuffle!

A friend of mine at Trane, where I spent 24 years of my professional life, was a bass player for the musician Boz Scaggs before he joined Trane. Tom’s personality is one that can take over a room and you can only imagine a gaggle of screaming fans as he charmed the concert venues during those days of performing. I’ve never asked for details or stories, let’s just leave it at that.

Now, as a responsible adult and a businessman, Tom’s venues have become conference rooms, and “charming the room” takes on a completely different meaning. When we invite clients into our places of business (remember those days?), we entertain them with our vast knowledge and treat them with professionalism and care. They made a time commitment, and we should respect that and appreciate them for it. 

When I was with Trane, the company worked with a large manufacturer in Quebec, Canada. We would escort clients to this company’s factory for presentations and plant tours. My first visit to the factory was memorable, not because of what I saw in a product and facility, but in the way I was treated as their guest. Mind you, we had not closed business with this company, and the client I treated to the flight and an overnight visit was only there as a prospect, so no order or promise of an order was in hand.

As we met in their conference room, with glass windows looking out over a vast and active production floor, I began to smell delightful aromas wafting through the office area. We left the conference room for a factory tour and when we arrived back to the meeting room, the place had transformed to a Michelin Three Star restaurant. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc adorned the table and a meal fit for a king was presented to us. We felt special and appreciated, to say the least.

I remembered that visit to Montreal years later when I was about to entertain a potential client at our office for a “Lunch and Learn.” Rather than ordering Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom #12 with Skinny Chips and a bagged Chocolate Chip cookie that was probably baked in China, I decided to replicate the Montreal experience. 

Tom graced our office from our corporate headquarters flying in for this very strategic meeting. As our guests entered our large conference room they saw a huge dining table set with a white linen tablecloth, wine glasses and water goblets, fine china, and the best silver. The meeting progressed well as we learned of the client’s needs and they learned about our solutions, all hoping to find common ground. 

Like in Montreal, as the lunch hour approached, delicious aromas began to envelop the conference room. Lunch was upon us and the most important part of the day was about to occur.

 After a short break, I advised the group to join us at the table. Our (rented for the day) professional chef personally served a petite filet and a lobster tail to each guest, along with their choice of wine or other drink. After a lively lunch conversation, I made a closing remark to our guests. 

The leader of the client group stood up and said (paraphrasing), “I don’t mind saying that you were not the low bidder on our project, not even close. But I can say today, with confidence, that we will commit to working with you to get you where you need to be on your price to do business with us.” 

 “First loving” a client, which I now call the “Lido Shuffle,” in honor of Tom and his time with Boz Scaggs, isn’t a shifty gimmick or a strategy, it’s a culture that successful entrepreneurs live by. We love because we were first loved. In the delicate business times of these days, clients get to be even choosier than they ever have been. When you build a sincere reputation of caring and appreciating your clients, success has no other choice than to fall at your feet. 

At a past parking conference in Pittsburgh, my hometown, I decided to do another “Lido Shuffle.” I am proud of my city the same way I am proud of my family and my business, and no one could do better at putting together an event in Pittsburgh than yours truly. After touring the city on two Duck boats and traversing Mount Washington on the Duquesne Incline, our guests ended up in a restaurant on top of the mountain overlooking the city that we had closed for them that evening. 

One guest was a consultant who had a history of obstructing our company’s. He approached me that evening and said: “Jeff, I don’t understand why you invited me tonight. While I respect you, I haven’t been very supportive of your company. In fact, I wouldn’t even make your Christmas Card List.” 

I responded, “Just remember this, we loved you before you loved us.”

Article contributed by:
Jeff Pinyot
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