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What’s A Client?

I work for a client. I help a customer. So what’s the difference, you ask? Pardon the story, but I like to use it to illustrate the difference in service levels rendered to a client as opposed to a customer.

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My grandmother used to take me shopping on Jamaica Avenue, in Queens, NY. That was back in the mid-fifties when even “The City”, was a little slower and more mellow. To be sure, the subways still rolled, the El was in use, and traffic was just as brutal as it is now.

We’d go along the avenue and pop into the green grocer (fruit & vegetable stand). Grandma Anna would greet the owner cordially and ask what the freshest vegetable on his shelves was. The proprietor rushed to the green beans, or the tomatoes, maybe he took grandma over to the brightest banana bunch you’d ever seen. When the choices were made, Mr. Green Grocer tallied up the bill on the paper grocery sack, wrote down the sales tax, and added while counting out loud. Anna paid the bill and off we went to the butcher shop.

Grandma and I hit the bakery for fresh bread and pastries, we went to the hardware store, we gathered everything on the shopping list in smalls drips and drops. Shopping occurred daily and Anna was treated with respect, a friendly smile, and a warm welcome from the small business owners on her route. Each proprietor valued the business relationship and worked to keep Anna’s business. Grandma Anna was a client.

In 1957 Grandpa Moe decided he needed a new car. He was in the real estate business and was always running.— Loaning money on homes, buying corner lots, collecting rent, and fixing his apartments– always busy. He wore stuff out and his car was overdue for replacement.

Moe took me to the car dealership on Sunrise Highway where dealerships lined up one after the other. The Ford, Chevy, Pontiac, Rambler showrooms in one row making my eyes spin from lot to lot. Grandpa and I strode into the Chevy showroom and Mike immediately corralled us.

“Hello sir, glad you made it in today. We’ve got special pricing on that 57 Bel Air. It retails out at over $2600, but we’ve got that red one out there for $2400 and we can finance it too.” Moe asked the salesman about a dozen questions—all answered satisfactorily. “Let’s take a drive, he said.” And off we went.

We headed out toward Far Rockaway with those dealer plates on and a hot looking Bel Air. Grandpa Moe was speeding along at a healthy 35 mph—really making time. We got back to the showroom about 45 minutes later—never made it all the way to Far Rockaway though.

Grandpa was ready to make the purchase. A little haggling over the price and Moe walked out of the dealership with me saying he’d pick his new auto up in a couple of days. It needed to be registered and the folks here took care of that. Grandpa was a customer.

Customers get questions answered, polite and knowledgeable service, and honest answers. Clients get 24-7 service, dedication to due diligence, advice when asked, service providers of merit, and a friendly, sincere smile.

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You can be a customer anytime, but why not enjoy the very best service by becoming my client? You’ll get just the right bunch of bananas if you do.