The HK Story



Once upon a time…

On a cloudy October, Saturday, afternoon I was heading in to work a few hours at a part-time job.  The problem was that I was starving, but I was running a little behind schedule.  So, rather than go to one of my usual spots for lunch I decided to try a different place.  It was closer to the office anyway.

Chinese food of course.


I went in to the Hong Kong take out restaurant for a quick lunch order.  Not a big profit maker for HK I’m sure, but I was in a hurry.  Small pork fried rice and a small wonton soup – very, very hot.

I wonder if I’m allowed to say the restaurant name.  Hmm…  Oh well.


The guy behind the counter, who I believe is the owner, acted as if I was interrupting his break time for reading the newspaper.  I think he was actually slightly annoyed that he had to whip up my tiny lunch order!  Didn’t say hello.  Didn’t even say thank you.  Geeze, this guy hardly even looked at me when he plopped my change on the counter (um – totally missing my outstretched hand).

Now I realize that for most people it’s not really a big deal.  I was hungry.  I eat.  It’s just some takeout food to put off starvation for a few hours and I’m not expecting a five star dinner service here.  I get that.  But in the big picture, that’s not how I look at it.

I am a customer.  My money.  My stomach.  And, as a consumer, I choose where I spend my money.


Now, to be honest, the food was pretty good, but there is no way I am giving this place any of my business.  The guy was rude.  This was HK’s viewpoint – just some guy and a cheap order, it doesn’t really matter that much.  Little did he know, or even cared to find out, is that I eat a ton of Chinese food.  I practically have it every day for lunch.


~ ~ ~


So let’s consider this missed opportunity for HK to gain a loyal customer.

As a customer, what is my long term value?

Where is my calculator anyway?


In this case, if  I order lunch Monday – Friday (I eat more Chinese food than that, but let’s just keep it simple) and the combo special is $5.75, then in a week I would spend $28.75 in this restaurant.

In a month that adds up to $115.  Every month.

In six months that’s almost 700 bucks!

In just one year my stomach would bring in over $1300 dollars for this place!

In five years time that’s almost 7,000 dollars for Chinese food.

I’ll pause here for dramatic effect.




That’s the big picture.  That’s the long term value of a customer.  I was exactly the kind of customer that HK wants and this guy missed the boat.  He blew it.


 ~ ~ ~


Oh, come on Jimmy, maybe the guy was just having a bad day?

I knew you were going to say that.  Back to the story we go…  


So the following weekend I am back at my usual place – awesome food and great service.  Benny, the owner, gets a phone order, hangs up and then he laughs and he says to me, “you know who that was… it’s a guy who works in the same business plaza, only 2 doors down, as Hong Kong but he orders here (from me) because that other guy is a jerk.”

We both had a good laugh over that!

Benny continued, “… HK just doesn’t get it.  You have to treat your customers nice or they don’t come back.”

Well said my friend.  Well said.  


~ ~ ~


So the point of this story…

You, business owner extraordinaire,  need to always keep in mind what the ‘big picture’ is – the potential long term value of the next customer that walks in your door.  This is especially true with a new company as you try to establish a solid customer base.

True Story.