Six years ago I was speaking at the 20th anniversary of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) in Las Vegas. It is not unusual for people to come up after I present to say hello, ask questions, or ask for my contact info. Not a big deal and it usually doesn’t result in much more than a couple second interactions. And ya, this time was different.
A young EO guy I’d never met before named John Ruhlin engaged me in conversation and asked if it was me who was coming to Cleveland to speak at their EO Chapter the following week. He also asked what my plans were the night before. I answered yes that in fact I was going to be coming to his city and that I would more than likely be taking advantage of the dollar being weak and shopping at my favorite store, Brooks Brothers.
We made plans to grab dinner and see a Cavs basketball game after I was done shopping. Someone offering to grab dinner and a sporting event is a nice gesture in business, but not a big deal or out of the ordinary, right??
Well, as it would turn out, coming in that day was a traveler’s nightmare. I had multiple delays and had to beg my way onto a flight that was pulling away from the jet way. I had to text John and let him know that I was coming in 5 hours later than expected and that I understood if he wanted to cancel. He casually reassured me that it was no problem, that he was waiting at the bar in my hotel and that I should get checked in, take my bags upstairs and come down refreshed for a great night. I thought, even though I didn’t get to go shopping I can still enjoy a great meal and take in a little Lebron James. All in all not a bad way to spend an evening in Cleveland. That is what I was expecting…
I got to the hotel and when I went to walk into my room, my jaw dropped. Spread out folded and hanging across my entire room were dozens of suit jackets, pants, shirts, and sweaters…and not just any dress clothes, they were Brooks Brothers dress clothes. My entire room looked like I had walked into a Brooks Brothers retail store. And it was all in my size.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. John, the EO guy had casually asked me what size I wore in an email that week because he said he wanted to send me his company T-shirt.
He’d just pulled off this amazing, mind-altering experience of service (what he calls “strategic appreciation”) and we weren’t even at dinner yet. I took as many pictures on my phone as I could, texted them to my wife, and realized I needed to call DiJulius to change the example I gave him for his book on the best customer service I had ever experienced.
When I walked into the bar, John looked up with a grin and said, “You enjoyed your Brooks Brothers store?”
Over dinner and the game John explained how using ultra high-end gifts helps him land meetings with CEOs or keep top client relationships amazing.
One of John’s companies, Ruhlin Group, specialized in doing crazy things like sending a $500 Cutco knife set in 5 consecutive packages to a CEO asking them to “carve out time” for a meeting.
After the Brooks Brothers experience and yes the awesome Ruhlin Group gifts, I will meet Ruhlin anytime, anyplace, and refer him to anybody because I can only hope more and more people get to experience the Ruhlin Group treatment first hand.