Monday, April 4, 2011

What's in a Name? Bigger Profits for Your Business

This is Tim, a barista at the Starbucks on Excelsior Blvd. in St. Louis Park, MN.

Tim is a money magnet for Starbucks. His boss ought to put him in charge of customer service, if he hasn't already. And whatever Tim is getting paid, it's not enough.

Here's why ...

On Friday, after dropping my car at the repair shop, I walked to a Starbucks across the street and wrote for two hours.

That's where I noticed Tim, working some customer service magic.

Not only was Tim pleasant and upbeat, he knew at least 50% of the customers by name (I was counting). Can you imagine how many more people must come back to this Starbucks every day, knowing they're going to be welcomed by name?

Judging by the number of people he greeted that way, it's a large, profitable number.

So, during a lull (there were only a few!) I asked Tim for his secret to memorizing names. And this is what he told me ...

After meeting a new customer, he asks for their name and writes it down, along with one identifying feature of that person, on the store copy of their receipt. Later in the day, he looks at his notes again, to reinforce names and faces in his memory.

Here's what Tim wrote down to remember me ...

(I was wearing a ratty old baseball cap, FYI.)

Tim said this method isn't perfect, but it works often enough.

Now. Why is Tim worth more than whatever he's paid?

Because he's doing more than he's paid to do. A lot more.

Do you think "memorizing customer names" is part of the Starbucks employee handbook? I don't. Yet, Tim has gone well beyond his job description, by taking the time and effort to make customers feel at home by learning their names.

You can build a very successful business if you have enough Tims.

But there's another lesson here: If you own or manage a service business, you can increase your own paycheck this week, simply by going beyond what your clients expect.

Start by remembering them.

If your business has walk-ins, do what it takes to memorize the names and faces of your regulars. Tim has given you a system to use. Copy it, or find one that works for you. But do it.

If your business serves clients by email or phone, it's even easier. Get a database, like, ACT, or GoldMine, and start tracking every conversation you have with prospects and clients. I've logged my phone calls since 1998.

It never fails to impress a client when you can recall for them a conversation or email exchange from 9 months earlier, thanks to the notes in your database.

So ... what's in a name? Everything you need to exceed expectations, delight your clients, and earn their repeat and referral business.

Bio: Kevin Donlin can help you grow your business and enjoy the breakthrough results your hard work deserves. If you're interested in boosting your revenues and profits, please click here.


  1. Great example of how an employee's initiative can make a difference in a business! I teach at a local university, and I expect my students to learn the names of their classmates in our public speaking class of 24. It is amazing how much easier it is to present to a group of 24 people you know by name rather than a group of 24 strangers...

  2. Kevin,

    Thanks for sharing this! The funny thing is that I actually know Tim, and he is a great guy! Not surprising that he would end up as the subject of an article about outstanding service. Thanks!


  3. Kevin, Tim is a wonderful genuine man who has devoted his life to his family and friends. He actually cares about those that he meets everyday. I have invited him to speak to our teachers twice at our Alternative School conferences. He revealed to our teachers steps in reaching out to our At-Risk students. Tim is a humble man and I consider it a privilege to consider him my friend.
    What a wonderful story about Tim that you have written.
    August Thurmer

  4. For many of us who have been privileged to know Tim for a long time, this is an accurate portrayal of a caring and sincere individual. May his paycheck reflect his contribution to the profit line of his store.