Updated: Jun 27
One morning during a Zoom Meeting, a message came over my answering machine speaker. Lori, a friend of a friend, was looking for maintenance services for her newly acquired 55-gallon freshwater aquarium. I called her back, and we discussed particulars. She was torn over whether to stay with her original aquarium installers. By the end of the conversation, I was hired.
It is my policy to reward referrals. So I mulled over how I could thank my friend Sharon, who is the wife of my long-time high school buddy, with a gesture. I thought flowers might be a nice gift, so why not loop in one of my newer aquarium clients, who owns a floral shop. Keep it in the family, right? I ordered a nice arrangement on their website.
I was excited to let my buddy Jon know that flowers would show up at his doorstep in the next day or so. He joked that I might make him look bad with his wife, and we had a laugh over it. Several days went by… and crickets. I thought it was odd. Sharon was the kind of person who would personally reach out and thank someone for such a gesture. I thought to call Jon but felt that might look like I was asking for a thank-you. Jon finally called the next day to say that he wasn’t complaining, but no flowers had arrived yet.
As a business owner, I was NOT happy. I always provide my best effort with my client and was surprised they did not deliver on their promise. I immediately contacted my florist client to see what he knew about my order. He felt very bad, stating they recently had to close business operations due to COVID. He said that my order had been overlooked and had never actually been processed.
Back to square one.
I contacted another local florist that I have done business with for many years. I knew that whatever I picked out there would look awesome. I visit this shop often. It not only sells floral arrangements but has both a wine and cheese bar and a cigar bar in another area.
I had such a fun time creating Sharon’s gift. Jon and Sharon have beautiful gardens surrounding their in-ground pool, so I decided on a plant arrangement instead of flowers. No more making Jon look bad. I added a French Cabernet, a cheese made with Porter Beer, and a sleeve of crackers.
Charlette, the owner, came over to make the final presentation and wrap the gift. I shared the story of how I ended up at her shops. “That’s what you do!?,” she said in surprise. ”You maintain aquariums? I want one!”
She described what she wanted. She envisioned a beautiful aquarium right behind me, where there had once been a tile-inlaid water fountain on a wall shared with the wine shop. Oh wow, I thought. This would be so cool.
I have since visited Charlotte’s shop twice to plan the transformation of the area into an attractive water feature. It will require opening up the wall and modifying the existing tile work. We will add an attractive stand enclosure to house the aquatic life support systems.
Luckily, I happen to know of a talented guy who owns a closet company that is expanding into other interior remodeling projects. I plan to provide a 3D-rendered CAD design, and Charlette will see if we have exceeded her expectations.