Rico knows when I’m on vacation or traveling for work. He notices when I change my hair. He gives me updates on what the weather is going to be like. He tells me about interesting classes I might want to take. He greets me five days a week with a big smile and a “morning sunshine.”
Rico is the welcome staff at my gym. And he single-handedly has managed to make something fairly ordinary — a gym — feel like a community.
Friday was Rico’s last day. He’s moving on to awesome things. That morning I took him a card and a gift. And I waited in a line (yes a line!) of other gym rats to say thanks before his last shift ended.
It got me thinking — as most things do — about non profits and fundraising.
Rico’s level of attention is impossible to scale to all donors. But giving Rico-style attention to your most passionate and committed supporters is a clear path to loyalty and satisfaction (just ask any of the gym rats standing in line with me who were threatening to cancel their memberships if Rico didn’t stay).
What can we learn from Rico about building relationships with committed donors?
(1) Rico was clearly your go-to person for anything. The most prominent and accessible face of the gym, Rico was a concierge of sorts. If you had a problem, you knew where to go to solve it. If you felt like you were in a rut with your routine, you could talk to him and he’d give you suggestions and recommend the best-suited trainer for your needs. How many of your middle donors know who to call directly with a question or problem?
(2) Rico got to know you. He knew I struggle with a back injury. He asked about Tim when he hadn’t seen him in a while. He understood how much I hate the winter and would applaud when I came through the door at 6:30am on bitterly cold mornings. What do you know about your middle donors? What do they like? How do they talk about you? What do they want from you? Do you know?
(3) Rico made you feel like an insider. He’d tell me about a new class before it was announced. He’d give me a heads up if the sauna was going to be out of service the following week. He’d tell me what instructors were really good. Do you make your middle donors feel special? Do they get special updates about things that matter to them from you?
Giving high-touch service is not easy — and sadly it is frequently an under appreciated skill. Without Rico on board, the gym could easily shift from community to “just a gym.” That would be a shame.