Lesson Learned from Mama Chili’s

September 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm (Uncategorized)

“The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing. ” Thomas Edison

Last week, I met my husband for lunch at the Chili’s in Knightdale, North Carolina. My husband and his coworkers frequent this Chili’s at least once a week, and for the last few weeks he has been hounding me to come and see why.  

For the last seven years, Amber Spencer, also known as Mama Chili’s, has been greeting and seating people first at the Chili’s in  Triangle Town Center in Raleigh, and now at the Chili’s in Knightdale. When I walked in, Mama said to me, “sit down, put your feet up, stay awhile” and “you know, I appreciate you.” She said it with such certitude that I really believed that she did. 

While I was sitting waiting for my husband, I watched other customers come and go. One older group of women who were leaving the restaurant bid Mama goodbye, to which she replied, “let me know the next time you all are coming in and I’ll join you for lunch.” Another group walked in to which she said, “come in, the water’s fine.” Each and every customer was gratuitously greeted with a smile, some with a hug, and all with honest purpose, which one business website calls “saleslove.”

The definition of “saleslove” is “unselfish and loyal care for the good of a customer, prospect, reseller, and/or team member.”

“Follow through with all service needs and requests until your customers and prospects confirm their needs have been handled. Gladly give them your continued attention and increase the chances you’ll become (and remain) their resource.” [www.justsell.com]

Over the last few  years, I have had many young artists come into my studio asking for advice, mostly on how to get started selling and marketing their work. I have looked at countless portfolios, sketches, and designs, and while most of these artists can design circles around me, they don’t have any business or marketing sense.

My overall business philosophy, personified by Mama Chili’s, is pretty simple.

First, find one thing, and do it better than anybody else. Many of the designers who come into my studio soliciting advice, wire wrap, weave,  fabricate, and who knows what else. Their portfolios are chockfull of pieces that show a wide variety of techniques and mediums, which at best demonstrate an inconsistent body of work.

Second, remember that the key to business, especially in a down economy, is in fact personal relationships. For me, that means developing personal relationships with my prospective customers, collectors, galleries, and suppliers. 

“Unless you love everybody, you can’t sell anybody” (Dicky Fox, from Jerry Maguire).

Lesson learned from Mama Chili.


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