A few weeks ago, my brother-in-law asked for some advice about purchasing his first suit.
So I made him buy me lunch.
We talked about his budget, his tastes, his options. Then we walked around the mall, where I told him what I know about lapels and armholes and other such things.
Then I made him buy me beer.
Eventually, he demanded I stop wasting his money, so I found him a suit online. A few days after that, I took him to my tailor.
Does this have a point?
The point, patient reader, is trust.
Every human relationship is based on an ongoing tightrope of trust. My brother-in-law trusted my opinion, trusted that I would show up to help him on a Saturday, and trusted that the suit I suggested was a good purchase.
My brother-in-law put down money on that trust.
Me? I trusted that he would pay for lunch and cover my tab.
Win-win. High five for the brothers-in-law.
What about the tailor?
Oh yes, my other point: the tailor.
Have you ever been to a tailor? One who's worked with clothing for a long time, who knows just how to pin hems, and shape fabric, and transform just clothes into your clothes? It's a unique experience in design.
I started going to my tailor about three years ago, when an uncle left me a suit that was a little too big. For me, the meeting was a bit anxiety-laden: I was entrusting something of value to someone I'd never met.
Here sir, use scissors on this. Cut it up good.
Yes, I'll pay upfront.
– Me, essentially
Of course the tailor delivered. In three years—chalk-marked in a leather jacket here, or a peacoat there—he's developed an understanding about my tastes and my style. In that same time, I've developed customer trust in his ability and his sensibilities.
I have so much trust in him that I walked my brother-in-law, and his own anxiety-laden first suit, right through the tailor's front door.
Trust makes all the difference.
Every business relationship is fundamentally a human relationship, based on the same tightrope of ongoing and evolving trust. One false step here, and a business can lose a customer forever. One remarkable experience there, and a business has a customer for life. The key to success is understanding the importance of that trust, honoring it, and delivering on it.
You see, I like my tailor. He’s a nice guy who’s skilled at his trade, and he’s delivered on his promise every time I’ve asked. What else, I’ve had such a great customer experience that I’d even forgive him if he made a mistake. Because he’s human, and because I trust that he’d do his best the next time around. That’s the sort of relationship that matters to me—in both casual and business interactions. And it’s the sort of relationship that I’d be willing to nurture over time. I’m sure he’d say the same if I asked.
"Do you tip?"
The other day, on the way out the door, my brother-in-law asked me whether he should give the tailor a tip when he picked up the suit.
I shook my head. “No. No tip. You just go back.”