I joke with my husband that I can’t take him anywhere without him knowing someone. We used to fill up our vehicles at a gas station close to our house. One Friday, our whole family decided to go in to pay for our gas & get some snacks for the upcoming road trip. As soon as we got into the store, the cashier and my husband started chatting it up. I looked at my husband like he was from Mars, since no one I knew would just walk into a store and start talking with the cashier. Not wanting to seem rude, I just let him go on chatting while the kids and I picked out our snacks. After we paid for our items and left the store, I asked my husband what THAT was all about. He looked at me like “what do you mean, what was that all about?” I asked him if he normally walks in to any old store and just starts chatting with whoever will listen. He chuckled a little and then explained it to me.
It turns out that my husband got to know the cashier, Corey, really well over the course of a year or so of filling up our vehicles every week. The two of them would chat about going to the lake, sports, what’s happening this weekend, almost anything. I had no idea that these conversations were going on or that this relationship was building from a professional courtesy into a friendship. I would suspect that Corey’s boss had no idea this was happening either, since none of the other cashiers would strike up a conversation other than the standard “How are you?” greeting.
It’s important to note that not only was Corey being friendly to us, he also knew what he was doing from a business standpoint. He had a vision for what a gas station/convenience store should be and he followed it, even though he didn’t own that store. He knew that people are creatures of habit but that their habits will change if you don’t continue to develop personal relationships and positive experiences. It’s these types of personal relationships – these touch points – that build loyalty. And loyalty helps to build your brand.
When Corey left to open his own gas station/convenience store in another city, we stopped going to the one by our house. We felt disconnected and anonymous. It just wasn’t the same. But I can guarantee you that whenever we pass through Corey’s town, we always stop at his station, even if it’s just to see how he’s doing.