I have often blogged about the power of coffee to open doors and cement relationships.
Just this past week, I walked into the office of one of my customers who, normally, have a very rigid approach towards scheduling meetings.
I know that, and always respect it.
However this time, I walked in armed with a Take-Twelve carafe and a box of 50 Timbits from Tim Hortons.
I introduced myself to the receptionist and said “I don’t have an appointment, but what I do have is coffee and donuts.”
“Well,” she laughed, that means we’re now best friends. “I can get you five minutes with the boss.”
Coffee. It’s important.
But there’s more to business relationships than just coffee.
The other day while my wife was out Christmas shopping she also needed replacement headphones for the DVD system in her SUV.
I think I’ve mentioned my family’s capacity to break cords and headphones before. Well, the wireless headphones for the seat-back DVD system get broken with depressing regularity too.
So she went to an upscale 12v car audio dealer who just happens to be one of customers.
Now that she’s a realtor she’s taken more of an interest in professional relationships, so while chatting with the owner she took the opportunity to grill him about his business relationship with me.
He told her that I didn’t bring him coffee and donuts often enough.
After laughing about that, he went on to explain that everything else I did for his company was more important than buying them coffee: marketing, promotions, warranty, and being accessible all go further than the occasional gift.
“I’d rather have a rep like Lee who answers his phone right away than one I never hear from who buys me a big bottle of Baileys at Christmas.”
So there you have it. Coffee: like Schrödinger’s Cat it both matters and doesn’t matter.
What makes the difference is how it’s applied.