You may have seen a recent article written by Dan McCarthy on this blog about “when’s the last time you told a story?” I loved that article, because as someone who has a passion for both reading and writing, there’s simply nothing better than a good story. And I couldn’t agree more with Dan’s thoughts about the power of telling a story within our business lives in order to make a connection and work toward a topic; so in that spirit, I’ve got a story to tell you . . .
Having landed back home at the Ft. Lauderdale airport recently, I noticed as I left the parking deck that the gas gauge was reading perilously low. This, of course, led me to the nearest gas station near the port authority and just outside of downtown Ft. Lauderdale.
As I was pumping gas in the very balmy (if somewhat fume-laden) breeze of the early evening, a young man filling up his own car on the other side of the pump leaned over and made eye contact. “Excuse me, would you mind if I gave you a brochure from my family’s newest restaurant in the area?” Now, I’m not in the habit of taking anything from perfect strangers who start talking to me at gas stations, but for some reason I said sure. He introduced himself, handed me the four-color piece and gave me a very engaging elevator speech about the establishment, the type of food and the atmosphere, and also mentioned that I might be familiar with another of the area restaurants that his parents had started. Most importantly, he asked me if I would give them a try sometime soon. I thanked him, finished filling the tank, and got back in my car for the drive home to Boca Raton.
On the way, I thought to myself – Wow! That was a great example of marketing chutzpah on the part of a young man who is obviously quite vested in seeing his family’s business succeed. I shared it with my husband once I arrived at home, and we decided right then that we’d give it a try the next time we flew home together from a trip. And since we both travel quite a bit, that was only a couple of weeks later.
Sure enough, as we walked into Gilbert’s 17 Street Grill – picture an upscale “fast food” restaurant, where you order at the counter and are delivered items to your table such as soups, salads, seared tuna, Certified Angus burgers, sweet potato fries and key lime pie – there was that same nice young man behind the counter! He recognized me, called over his parents to introduce them and tell them the story behind our walking in, and immediately attained hero status. And lest you think otherwise – our meal was outstanding, as was the service!
Why do I tell this story? Because I really was kind of blown away by the initiative and politeness and “truth in advertising” of Richard, the “young man” of Gilbert’s. But that’s not all – it very simply and elegantly reaffirmed that basic tenet of trying to sell anything – you have to ask for the sale. Richard told me about his product, and asked me to try it. And I did. It doesn’t get any simpler or more profound than that.