It happened over three years ago and the impression still lasts.

In November 2012, my wife dispatched me to the hardware superstore to purchase a cleaner for our granite counter tops. When I returned home it was made very evident that I bought the wrong product. She wanted the can that was wrapped in the image of granite not the trigger spray purple plastic bottle that was in my hand. With head hung, I hopped back in the Jeep for the return run.

With the correct can in hand, I walked through the back door of the house and handed the cleaner to my bride. As she looked at the labeling, I shuttered. “What now have I done wrong?” I thought to myself. On the black plastic cap there was affixed a sticker promoting a $2.00 rebate. She carefully peeled the label, addressed an envelope, placed the redemption offer inside, sealed the envelope, licked a stamp, and sent everything off to Lenexa, Kansas.

(My wife, the CPA, knew full well that the stamp and envelope would cost more than $.50. The idea of netting just under $1.50 was well worth the effort to her.)

In January 2013, having forgotten the entire granite counter top cleaner episode, I made a trip to the mailbox for my daily rummage through junk and bills. In the pile of stuff on this cold, grey day stood a letter addressed to me (typed from a true typewriter) from someone called the “Rock Doctor.” Not recalling what the connection could be between this company and me and without any expectations I opened the envelope and found a personalized letter and a check. It was the $2.00 rebate.

It took me a few seconds to digest the letter and to analyze the check.
It was a handwritten check. I was floored when I realized the signature on the check was the same as the signature on the letter.
Les Smith, Managing Partner, took time to write me a $2.00 rebate check for granite cleaner?
I had to learn more.

I called Les Smith of Rock Doctor and left a message on his voicemail.
Within moments, Mr. Smith returned my call.

I asked why he wrote me a handwritten check. He said he wants to know his customers and by writing each rebate by hand he is able to have a personal experience with the people that buy his product. I wondered how many checks he writes each day. He told me 80. That’s 400 a week!

After ten minutes on the phone, I thanked Mr. Smith and he thanked me.

On January 21, 2013, Les Smith took one minute to write me a $2.00 check, he spent a few seconds to meter a $.10 envelope with $.45 worth of postage and in those moments he gained a customer for life. Now when I walk the aisle of the hardware superstore I blow right past the plastic purple bottle and I focus to find that can with the granite imaging and the predominant Rock Doctor logo.

All this leads me to ask you: How much business could you acquire if you took the time to get to know your customers and your clients the way Mr. Smith got to know the Durhams? How much effort does it really cost you to earn the affinity that just might last a lifetime?