Two businesses in my neighbourhood changed hands this week. Both of these changes brought tears to my eyes, for very different reasons.
I have been a customer of both of these companies for 25 years. Both are important to me because I have relied on them over that long association. Their approach to ‘passing the baton’ was in stark contrast with each other. One sent me the most personal (even though it wasn’t personalised) ‘old school’ letter, via email, telling me what was happening, reassuring me about the future of the business and thanking me for my custom. The other business closed its doors without any warning, papered over the windows, cut off its landline and deleted its website. And in so doing inflicted a cut to the social fabric of my neighbourhood.
The first business is my plumber, Hoffman’s. The very same guy who has been coming to my house – often within a couple of hours of my call – to attend every plumbing emergency I’ve had for three decades. I owe him a lot more than I have ever paid him for his excellent service. I owe him for my peace of mind. Outside of a fire, there are few things more alarming or urgent than a plumbing emergency.
The second business was my neighbourhood bistro. Andiamo was my back-up kitchen when work/parenting/life got in the way of shopping for fresh ingredients. It was the place my husband and I went for a meal on the way home from a movie, or a cocktail on a Friday night to celebrate having squeaked through another week’s multiple demands without the wheels falling off. We’d always bump into someone we knew. It was the place I went for a Thai Chicken Curry 19 years ago while in labour with my first, so I guess it was the place that served me the last thing I ate before life changed forever. That dish was still on the menu (and still good) until the day Andiamo closed its doors.
The new owners of Andiamo own a restaurant on nearby Ponsonby Road. The quick dismantling of the website and cutting of the landline indicates they will be rebranding and opening under a new name to create some buzz for their new restaurant. If so, what a heedless squandering of the brand loyalty built up so painstakingly by Andiamo’s staff over that 25-year history.
Either way, I’d like to know.
Some of Lion’s Share’s clients worry that they are sharing too much, adding to the sea of content out there, spamming the people they most want to impress and influence. Don’t worry. Provide high quality content, communicate well, and let people self-select. They will opt in and opt out at will. And if they are not connected to you via your database or your social channels, they will search for information when they want it. It’s better that it’s there online for them to discover than leaving them wondering (and wandering) because you projected your unproven fears onto them.
It’s especially important to communicate clearly and make information discoverable when there are changes to the business afoot.
In the field of psychology attachment theory describes how babies bond with their chief caregiver through that caregiver consistently meeting their demands, solving their problems and coming when the baby cries, time after time after time. Brands are built in a similar way.
Andiamo’s new owners should have communicated with me in order to protect the brand loyalty the previous owners had so painstakingly built. Have they killed the brand I was so attached to? I don’t know yet, but I feel like abandoned, like the baby left to cry. And that’s a hard feeling to overcome.