Instead, he used breathtaking simplicity to sum up his sermon in three words: “Never stop courting.” The message he conveyed was very clear. When you’re courting someone, you show special respect and pay flattering attention to that person. You’re polite, gracious, and considerate of the person you’re courting. His advice was that if you maintain the romance and care you have for someone during your courtship even when you’re married, you aren’t going to go far wrong as the years pass.
I’m certain the priest’s advice was intended to help the wedding couple avoid the situation encountered in the story about the fictional couple who had been married for 30 years. They’re sitting around the breakfast table as they do most mornings, she with her coffee and he hidden behind his newspaper. She says to him, “Honey, how come you never tell me you love me anymore?” He, from behind his newspaper, says, “What do you mean? I told you I loved you when we got married. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.”
The advice given at my friend’s wedding goes beyond married couples. As you might imagine, I believe it applies to businesses as well! For example …
One of the clients I’ve had the pleasure of working with for some time has his own spin on the courtship philosophy. He refers to his customers as “girlfriends.” And he exhorts his Project Managers to find as many girlfriends as they can, and then take care of them. (Or to be politically correct here depending on your PM’s gender they might be “boyfriends”!) Call on them regularly. Listen to them. Find out what’s important to them…both personally and professionally. Take them to dinner occasionally. Let them know how much you appreciate them by “courting” them.
My client figures if his Project Managers maintains a courting relationship with their customers the same way they would a girlfriend, the relationship has a good chance of staying solid, or at the very least they’ll know when things aren’t right. He also knows that once his PM’s stop paying attention to their “business girlfriends”, a new suitor (competitor) will come along and start winning their affections.
This “girlfriend concept” applies to the people who work for us, too. It’s a fundamental of business that to have loyal customers, we first must have loyal employees. Having loyal employees involves not only engaging the people we already have on board, but finding the right people to bring on board in the first place.
We can also add to our list of girlfriends the suppliers, advisors, and business partners who support us every day. In my next posts on our SFS instructor’s Blog I’ll discuss how treating all of these people like girlfriends can add significantly to the performance of your business and to your bottom line.