A week or so ago, my wife and I attended the World Convention of the Christian Church in Nashville, TN. It was a nice convention and we enjoyed Nashville. One evening we decided we wanted to eat something other than Tennessee barbecue, so we stopped in at the Stoney River restaurant.

It was a great experience … pricey, but excellent food and service. It was pretty much everything one could ask for and when we go back to Nashville, Stoney River will likely be one of the destinations on our meal menu.

Of course, even though it was good, there were about six different places we ate meals in Nashville. Many of them were quite good. But if you ask me to name any of the others, I couldn’t do it. For instance, there were a couple barbecue places down on Broadway. There was a really nice place out by the mall that’s currently under construction (complete with a nightmare visit I’ll not soon forget). But I remember Stoney River by name … and I could find it again too. Why? Because two weeks after our visit we got a handwritten postcard from David T., our server. Handwritten!

He managed to spell our names correctly (yes, he copied it from our reservation form, but you’d be surprised how many churches don’t seem to get the name right from their Registration Pads or Visitor Cards that we ALWAYS fill out). And it was timely. Sure, we live hours and hours and hours away from Nashville, so we’re not likely to go back next week … or next month … but we were important enough to warrant the postcard. And they captured a loyal customer.

A friend of mine from Jefferson City, shared a similar event from a church in Colorado. He and his wife were visiting a large church there in the “West” (BTW, how does Colorado make the designation “West”? Seattle is West. LA is West. Denver is at best the Mid-West). They filled out the requisite visitor’s card and figured they’d get the photocopied “Welcome to our church” letter “Signed” (ha!) by the pastor. But a week later, a box of goodies arrived at their door. Inside was a church mug, branded pen, information about the church, a very nice “Come back when you’re visiting in the area again” letter, and several other branded “gifts.” He guessed that there was more than $5 worth of stuff in the box and they’d paid well for the postage. Seems like a waste, doesn’t it. The spent $8-$10 to “woo” a family that lives in Missouri. Where’s the return in that?

Ask Stoney River. One handwritten card and they’ve won a customer. And you’ve read about the restaurant. And we’ve mentioned it in several conversations. Our friends may never return to Colorado. But he tells this story to almost everyone who passes through his doors. And if someone is heading to Colorado, they make a recommendation to the church … by name and location.

Both Stoney River and the Colorado Church know follow-up. They’re good at it. Lessons learned …