Gloomy Gus

My late handyman—he was older than I—frequented the same coffee shop that I take the dogs to in the morning. The owner runs a nice place, but he’s always complaining. My handyman gave him the sobriquet, “Gloomy Gus.”

If it’s raining it’s bad for business because people will go to a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through, rather than get out of their cars. If it’s sunny it’s bad for business because people will go to the beach. You get the picture: Business is never good, life is never fair.

Coffee, of course, has a huge profit margin. Starbucks isn’t where it is selling CDs or coffee mugs. And Gloomy Gus has a strong clientele amidst a lot of competition in town. He provides free dog biscuits, for example, which is quite nice. (Duncan’ provides free munchkins.) His coffee is not exceptional, it’s average.

Yet in the eight or so years he’s been in business, he’s never offered me a free cup of Joe! Restaurants offer me a free drink, appetizer, dessert; my auto places will do a quick service for free on occasion; Amex offers all sorts of free goodies; a clothing store will say “the belt is on us.” But never a free cup of coffee, which costs just a few cents but would generate a huge return in loyalty.

Are you offering your clients “free” anything? I don’t mean promotional newsletters or generalized advice on a mail list. I mean do your best buyers feel that you periodically offer something of value because you appreciate their business? Remember, the value has to be seen in their eyes, not yours.

Otherwise, you may just be seen as the Gloomy Gus of consulting.

© Alan Weiss 2016


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