I was forwarded an email this morning that at first made me laugh, then on further consideration made me smile with astonished envy. Richard Habib (of Alexander’s in San Francisco, and until recently, of renown in the world of rugs for his pony-tail. Related Photo Here) has sent an email newsletter to his valued clients inviting them along on a buying trip to the NYICS and Metro Market Week.
The relevant copy is as follows: “Visit New York Metro Rug Week with Expert Richard Habib 9/15-20/2008. Imagine shopping the world’s largest rug market containing a huge selection of new and antique rugs, and having Richard Habib on board to assure the quality and price! New York City is a marvel to see in the Fall – enjoy a festive atmosphere as you meet the personalities and founders of this industry. This is a rare opportunity to journey with expert guidance and a well respected business man, Richard Habib. He will assure the authenticity and value in your selection, and negotiate 25% over cost! PLUS negotiate to include shipping!” The newsletter also goes further to state: “Email your rug request and Richard will email pictures daily for your review. High Tech shopping just got easier with Richard’s personal attention to details and expert knowledge of this industry.”
How do I describe my feelings on this? Two words: Chutzpah and Bravo! And if I was to use a third, I’d include: Moxie. (A favorite word of a colleague.) Shall we discuss? Let’s shall.
What made me laugh? At first I thought to myself, “Holy Cow (ok it was not cow), what is he thinking? Who would take him up on this offer?” Then….when the smile emerged, I thought again “Who would take him up on this offer?”
Assuming someone takes him up on this offer: The genius of this offer is in the ability of Mr. Habib to provide an extraordinary level of service to his clients at little or no cost to him. Notice, the client is invited to come along on the trip with Mr. Habib, presumably at their own expense, while he gives them advise. The only thing it costs Mr. Habib is his time and effort. He will also introduce the clients to the “personalities and founders of this industry” – “star power” as it were for the world of rugs. What designer would not revel in telling a client of how they met Stephanie Odegard and how she recommended a particular Odegard rug for their interior.
Of course what if no-one takes him up on his offer? The previously stated genius is still there. He has spent little or no money promoting the availability of the trip (and his expertise), and his clients now know that Mr. Habib cares enough about them to pullout all stops in finding the right carpet for them. Those designers may very well say to their clients: “Well if Richard doesn’t have it, I can go with him to NYC and find it for you…”
When all is said and done, and all other things being equal, we like to do business with people we like. Those who already shop with Mr. Habib clearly like him, and this will only serve to further strengthen that bond, while the same goes for those from whom he buys. He knows how to make them feel special and valued, and from a business perspective, knows how to do so in a cost effective manner, while building strong word of mouth.
You can’t buy advertising like that, but he just has. After all, I was talking about it with a colleague this morning, was reading the email shortly thereafter, have just now written about it, and you have just read about it. If there was a fourth word: Kudos!
*Noted as Mr. Habib is an Odegard dealer.