If you’ve never been to the Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, please go at least once in your lifetime before you rise into heaven. Dark wood paneling… flickering candle light… expertly crafted cocktails… and a rich, fascinating history, especially if you’re a literature and music nerd like me.
F. Scott Fitzgerald used to hang out there. Cole Porter composed music there, sometimes sitting and writing for 9 hours a day. And of course, the bar’s namesake—Ernest Hemingway—was a frequent and passionate customer. (One time, it’s said that he ordered 51 martinis in a row…)
On a recent trip to Paris, I took my daughter to the Bar Hemingway for a pre-dinner refreshment. Colin Field—the legendary head bartender—personally stopped by to check on us.
“How are you enjoying your drinks?” he asked, in his crisp white suit and black tie, smiling warmly.
We gushed our enthusiasm. “OMG!” “Amazing!” “Everything is wonderful!”
He smiled and said, “I’m so glad to hear that. Would you like to stay and have dinner with us?” Colin described the delicious menu items—including the best burger in town. Mr. Hemingway’s favorite meal. We were basically drooling into our crystal goblets.
Then he added, “… And if you’ve already made a dinner reservation elsewhere, we will gladly call and cancel that reservation for you right now.”
“What’s that?” I thought to myself. “You will call on my behalf to cancel a reservation? For me? Just to make it easier for me to say ‘Yes!’ to dining here instead?” Whoa. My inner entrepreneur did a backflip of joy.
Now that is a damn classy example of how to sell a product, service, or experience.
I’m so inspired by Colin’s sales approach. He’s gotten my mental wheels turning. I’ve been looking at my own business and asking myself:
– How could I make it even easier for customers to say “Yes!” to working with me?
– How could I remove any conceivable obstacles / barriers / impediments / annoyances, just like Colin offered to do?
– How could I add even more delight to the purchasing experience, so that my customers feel beautifully taken care of—at every step?
– How could I give my clients a Ritz-level experience, even if they’re purchasing a $17 book or card deck, or a $397 workshop ticket, or a $497 online class, not a multi-thousand-dollar product?
These are great questions for me—and every business owner—to percolate on.
What could you do right now to elevate the experience for your clients and customers?
You don’t necessarily need to crack open a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne. You don’t necessarily need to send a fancy gift in the mail. Those gestures are lovely, sure. But sometimes, it’s simply a matter of asking, “What would make my client’s life just a little bit easier?” and then… doing that.
As I learned at the Bar Hemingway, it can be just that simple. Simple, classy, and amazingly effective.
PS. Colin—if by some chance you ever happen to see this, thanks for the sublime drink (I ordered the Serendipity) that you whirled together for me. And thanks for the unexpected business inspiration, too. I’m raising a glass (just coffee, but still) to you, in your honor. Merci beaucoup.
PSS. There are a few spots left in my Make a Scene Mastermind program. If you’re interested, apply here. After applying, you and I will have a phone conversation to discuss the program together.
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