In July of last year, I played at an assisted living home that specializes in memory care. A resident named Shelly, who always enjoyed my shows, had great fun at my expense after she discovered my toes were tapping while I played (it was a hot night and I was wearing sandals). She joked that she was going to come sit on my feet and see if I was able to sing if my toes weren't moving. We all had a great laugh and moved on. Shelly had been at several shows and continued to ask me about a song by a gentleman named Dick Curless, called "A Tombstone Every Mile". After several shows and Shelly's persistence, I decided it was time to learn that song and play it for her.
When I had the song all figured out, I returned to play it for Shelly. I walked in and began setting up. Shelly was always one of the first to come into the room and sit in the front row. This night she never came. Before I started playing, I asked a nurse if Shelly was okay. She informed me that her family had moved her to another facility. I was crushed, but played my show and the folks had a great time.
After telling my sad tale to several friends, I was encouraged to try to locate Shelly. At the time, I worked in medical management and I knew this would not be an easy task as the rules are very clear about a patient's privacy. Undeterred, I figured I could at least try some of the local facilities and see if I got anywhere.
In my quest to find Shelly and play for her again, (specifically, the song I had painstakingly learned at her request) I spoke to an activities director - I will call her Beth. I mentioned the place I had played recently and that I was looking for a resident to play for again. Beth began to laugh as I continued. She finally stopped me and said, "Can I ask you an odd question? Are you the guy with the dancing toes?" SHELLY HAD ASKED FOR ME!!!
I was absolutely floored. Here is a woman with Alzheimer's that has progressed to the point that she needs long term care, and she remembered me! She remembered enough to mention me at her new home and tell the activities director to find me. SO - not only did I get booked to play the new facility, and get to play for Shelly again, but I became convinced that this little hobby is making a difference in people's lives.
The gig at Shelly's new home was scheduled a few months out, so I put "A Tombstone Every Mile" on the back burner. In the meantime I went back to the other home to play my regular show. To my surprise, there was Shelly! Right there in the front row. She didn't recognize me at first, so I told her about the dancing toes and she smiled in recognition. Towards the end of my show, I took a risk and played her Dick Curless song. The joy on her face was remarkable. What an amazing evening.
Now, I can't relate this to business except to say that you each have an opportunity to make magic happen for your customers. You have an opportunity to go above and beyond to make their experience with you memorable and create a lifelong relationship. Not only do you have an opportunity, but I believe you have an obligation to exceed expectations. Not just for your business, but for our region. We will continue to spread the good word about the things happening here, but the experiences the visitors have when they come will make all the difference and that part is completely up to you. Thousands of visitors will come shop in the Kennebec Valley in the next 6 weeks. Please make sure you send them home smiling, they will surely tell their friends about the fun they had or the store that they enjoyed. Never ignore the magic of music and dancing toes.