I live in the metro Detroit area of Michigan at Point A (the northern point) on this map. Point B is where I used to live. It’s a 30 minute/15 mile drive between the two, give or take a few miles and minutes. The metro Detroit area is the 11th largest in the country, densely packed, and almost any consumer service is nearby no matter where you live. I can get to a CVS pharmacy in less than a minute. On foot.
But I still use businesses located in Point B to provide me services – specifically my hairdresser and my dentist – even though I haven’t lived there in over 20 years.
It was during a visit to the dentist a couple of weeks ago when the subject somehow got around to the frequency of my visits to Point B. My dentist thought it was ludicrous that I go to Point B at least once a month to get my hair cut.
Him: “How many hairdressers do you think you pass before you get here?”
Me: “About the same number of dentists I pass.”
Him: “Yes, but they aren’t GOOD dentists.”
His point was, of course, that hairdressers are minor, unskilled functionaries who deserve no loyalty, and that he was in a different class. In my book, though, both provide excellent service at a fair price, know me and my needs very well, and are friendly guys that I can talk to while they are performing their magic. I’ve been using their services for over 20 years and I am loyal to both. Given those advantages, a longer-than-necessary drive seems a minor inconvenience.
I can’t say I have afforded the same loyalty to business vendors. In almost 10 years, I changed every vendor I had the power to change, and tried to change at least one other (and was overruled by my business partner). I will argue that I had good reasons to do so (lower cost, more efficient, better product, etc.) and, after all (shades of Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail”), it’s not PERSONAL, it’s BUSINESS.
But that comment by my dentist made me wonder if that is the right approach. Would I have received better service and a better product from a vendor if I had showed more loyalty? Is there any reason to be loyal to a business vendor? What’s your experience?