My Tree Trimmer Goes Barefoot

Brand loyalty starts and ends with the physical investment of its caretakers. When Ford turnaround CEO, Alan McNally, was the CEO of Boeing, he drove a high-end Lexus. But, once his business address changed from Seattle to Detroit, his car preference changed to a Ford. Even Ford Chairman Bill Ford, whose great grandfather started the company, selected a Mustang over a pricier Ford-owned brand like Aston Martin or Jaguar.

Brand loyalty, however, is not just about the actions of the residents of Mahogany Row. It includes the behaviors and attitudes of every person who fronts that company. Customers sense brand loyalty in the upbeat tone of contact center operators when the brand name is mentioned. Brand-loyal employees never publicly complain or criticize actions by their organization. Blindly loyal? Absolutely not. To them, it would be like openly criticizing a best friend behind her back.

"If you don't like how we do things, please tell us and help us fix it," said the manager of a hardware store to his employees. "We are committed to excellence and need your best work and greatest passion. So, if you cannot find it in your heart to love our store, we will all wish you well as you leave to go work somewhere else." My friend Shep Hyken titled his newest book, "Be Amazing or Go Home." His point is all about commitment, not compliance. Employees in love create customers with the same affinity.

What does brand loyalty look like? Taking a shuttle bus from the off-airport car rental lot to the terminal is usually an unremarkable event. Not in Atlanta when Archie Bostick is driving the Hertz bus. Once on the bus, Archie delivers a stand-up comedy routine instead of the standard warning about the consequences of forgetting to turn your keys. As Archie pulls up to the terminal, he announces, "Now that we're at your final destination, I may never see you again. I want us all to say together, "I love Hertz.'" He convinces a crowd of strangers to holler, "I love Hertz" before they get off his bus! As customers exit applauding, they realize they have just witnessed a brand loyalist.

So, why the title of this article? Larry Porter is a tree guy…and, has been for more than 30 years. Everyone in my town knows Larry, the tree trimmer. Lose a tree in a storm and he's there with his chainsaw and truck. Got a tree that needs removal? He can fall it with the precision of a surgeon. And what do folks say about Larry? "Larry is in love with being a tree guy." Instead of using tree climbing spurs that a line crew might use to climb a telephone pole, Larry shows up barefoot and climbs trees just like a monkey. His passion loudly shows with his go-to-the-mat physical investment that "Larry is in love with being a tree guy." And, he always has more work than he can handle.

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several national best-selling books. For the last five years straight, Global Gurus has ranked him in the top three keynote speakers in the world on customer service. He can be reached at