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Key Idea: Eat Dinner with Your Customers

Dina is part of the third generation and she often finds herself delivering products from the truck of her car when a customer calls in a panic.  She learned from her grandparents that service doesn't stop at 5 pm.

Key Question:

A: 

The idea of eating dinner with your customers is a metaphor for doing any personal and social activity with a customer. 

This is the technique the Opici family has used for decades to stay close to customers, to keep their fingers on the pulse of business, to watch how their products are sold, and to thank customers for their business. You do not have to be in the hospitality industry to use this idea. Rosie and Hubert still eat with a customer four nights a week.

Q: What's the difference between eating lunch with customers and eating dinner with them?

A: Sharing a meal with people puts you in an intimate, family-like relationship with them. Lunch meetings are OK, but not as warm, relaxed and personal as dinner.

Keep this in mind too. Rosie and Hubert are eating dinner at a restaurant owned by one of their customers. This gives us another way to think about the idea of building relationships, doesn't it?

Think about it

When was the last time you bought from a customer?

Clip from: Opici Wine Group's Three Generations

Glen Rock, New Jersey:  One never knows when power, love, and money intersect within a family, how it'll play out. When company founders, Rose and Hubert Opici, thought the next generation was ready to run the company, they retired to Florida.  They were a bit too optimistic. Though from within the family, their new leadership had power and money but not the love that was Rose and Hubert's special ingredient that had nurtured this business into being for over three decades. Luckily, Rose and Hubert were paying attention. They came out of retirement, removed their bad apple, and restored health and vitality to the business.  
 
The hard lessons learned from that experience steeled the family for the tasks ahead. Their daughter, Linda, became president and they began recruiting strong veteran industry talent. Then to prepare their grandchildren, Dina and Don are getting on the job training from the bottom up.
 
Learn how a business is built by celebrating life around an evening dinner with family, customers and suppliers. It is a very basic business formula: Know your customers and suppliers well. Get to understand them, like them, and trust them, and the business follows.

This company opened for business in 1933 and you will hear the third generation talking about taking Opici into its second century of operation. 

Go to all the Key Ideas & Videos of this episode...

Opici Wine Group

Linda Opici, President

25 DeBoer Drive
Glen Rock, NJ 07452
2016891200

Visit our web site: http://opici.com

Office: 2016891200

Business Classification:
Distributors

Year Founded: 1933

Eat Dinner with Your Customers

HATTIE: So this is really the core of the business.

HUBERT: The core of the business - this is where we work nights. They start here at nine tonight.

HATTIE: For a guy who was born in 1916 - what do you think you bring to the table today?

HUBERT: I think -- perseverance and enthusiasm. Like last week we went to Connecticut to buy a building and I looked it over.

All weekend I was writing all of the specs that we should look at - environmentally and physically. I enjoy doing that.

HATTIE: What is it about the business that brings you into it every day?

ROSE: Knowing your customers and realizing that they need you there when they want something. They know that I give it to them. If I have to, I bring it myself.

HUBERT: She has a wonderful personality; she can convince anyone. When we first came out of the service, we had one bookkeeper along with Rose and myself. I was on the road and she was in the office with the girl. She learned the business. We went to all of the conventions; we went to all of the pork dinners and venison dinners and socialized. At one time, I think we had 4,000 customers and we practically knew every one of them.

HATTIE: Who are your customers to you?

LINDA: They are part of the family, so to speak, because we become that close. Others approach them and they go, "Well, we are satisfied where we are." And they don't go any further ... it is a satisfaction that they are as happy where they are and that they are trusting. It is a big deal that you get into them and they stay there. They have to like your product, don't get me wrong.

HUBERT: And I enjoy going to see customers. In Florida -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Rosie and I are out every night. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we hibernate. The customers like that. They like knowing who they are dealing with. We know when they are having a problem, they don't ask for Tom or Bob or somebody, they ask, "Hey, where's Hubie?"

DINA: A lot of the wine business doesn't go on in the office. This is an industry where most of the work is done after work. Meeting with different restaurateurs, meeting with retailers - none of that happens in the office. A lot of nights where you have dinners with suppliers who are visiting in town - none of that happens in the office. So you could leave the office on a day at two o'clock in the afternoon and you don't get home until two o'clock in the morning. It doesn't mean you weren't working - but you were definitely having fun.

HATTIE: (In the Studio) Eat dinner with your customers. Yes, this is the technique the Opici family has used for decades to stay close to customers, to keep their fingers on the pulse of business, to watch how their products are sold, and to thank customers for their business. You do not have to be in the hospitality industry to use this idea. Rosie and Hubert still eat with a customer four nights a week. Sharing a meal with people puts you in an intimate, family-like relationship with them. Lunch meetings are OK, but not as warm, relaxed and personal as dinner. To grow your business, eat dinner with your customers.

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