You have unique values and interests. You will spend money on things others wouldn’t choose to have, even if those things were free. You will see people invest in items for their business and think they’re nuts (would you spend $50,000 for a business retreat on Necker Island?).
There has been much conversation among my friends, since I told them I checked off a ‘bucket list’ item by eating lunch at The French Laundry last weekend. It is one of the most famous restaurants in the world. People pull in every favor they have to get a reservation.
I’d heard that a meal there is thousands of dollars if you add wine to your line up of culinary delights. Based on that, I found it interesting that I did not hesitate when my girlfriend said an opportunity came up for me to join her and four other business women at this dream destination.
I was more curious than anything. Would this meal be worth thousands of dollars?
Even if it sucked, I thought spending time with people in my industry and multi-million dollar business owners was a worthy investment. I consider relationships my #1 tool for growing my business. This lunch could lead to six-figures in sales for me. In fact, one of the gals there was the vehicle to a new client who has invested over $15,000 with me in the last year.
Within 30 minutes of arriving at the landmark restaurant in Yountville, California, I knew I had made a very wise decision to attend. The woman who scored the reservations for us is a hardcore foodie, with no less than 50 meals at The French Laundry. She gave us an education in food and the background of the restaurant that few will ever know.
While the tables around us chatted and devoured their nine course meals, our foodie veteran made sure that our wait staff educated us about the eight salts from around the world, the custard cooked and presented in a real egg shell and our mother of pearl spoon that came with the oysters and caviar (metal reacts with the oyster, so the $200 spoons are necessary).
We had an experience that nobody else in the restaurant received that day. We had many surprise gift courses from the chef. Complimentary champagne. We toured the five-star Michelin winner’s kitchen. We were presented with a gift bag of goodies before departure. We were on a first name basis with the manager. I felt like a celebrity and was in awe and appreciation the whole time.
It was an over-the-top experience that exceeded every expectation (although the extra $200 course of white truffles on my risotto didn’t impress my palate).
When the bill came I was delighted to only pay $600, including tax and tip (our friend had brought a magnum of Pinot Noir and paid for our corkage fee as a gift!). Our experience in the restaurant lasted five-and-a-half hours. That’s a tad over $100 an hour for a foodie experience of a lifetime and connecting with visionary women who will support me in my business.
In my opinion, the investment was almost trivial, considering that the event will be forever emblazoned in my mind.
Before you automatically say no to a new expense in your business, examine the overall return on investment to your business (and your fun factor!). Some of you would say no to the French Laundry because you see it as paying too much for a meal.
It wasn’t a meal. It was an experience.
You want your clients to feel the same way when they work with you. It’s not an expense. It’s an investment.
Mmmm … I just popped one of the shortbread cookies in my mouth from my goodie bag. Mercy! It was an experience that keeps on giving.
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