I attended a funeral last week. Rather than being a gloomy affair, it was actually a celebration of a long and happy life. I didn’t know the deceased well — (he was my neighbor’s older brother) — but by the time the service was over I wish I had. What a cool guy!

FloristAnyway, there was a lot of people there I didn’t know. So I tried my best to mingle, which I’m not particularly good at, and ended up in a conversation with a woman who was in the midst of planning her daughter’s wedding. She noticed all the flower arrangements that adorned the chapel and said, “That’s my next task. Finding a good florist.”

As soon as she said that, I blurted, “Hey, I know a great florist.”

“Oh?” She said.

“Yes, in fact I ordered an arrangement from them last year for my wife’s birthday.” I said. “They really impressed me. They even called the next day to ask if my wife liked the flowers.”

“What’s their name?” she asked excitedly.

Not only was I able to tell her the florist’s name, but also their website address. I was pretty sure that, if I racked my brain a bit more, I could have even come up with the first name of the manager.

Now here’s the thing…

I ordered from that florist just once, a year ago. How was I able to remember their name and website so quickly? And what prompted me to recommend them so enthusiastically?

The answer is simple. The florist stayed in touch with me.

Not only did they call to check if I was satisfied with the flowers, they also sent me a regular e-newsletter along with the occasional personal email from the manager.

I admit, I didn’t read half those emails. But those I did read were informative, friendly and helpful. And I appreciated their sincere effort to stay in touch with me — their brand new customer — and get to know me better.

Within just a few months of my first order with them, that florist became top-of-mind, so much so that the first opportunity I had to recommend their services, I did so without hesitation.

Would I still have recommended that florist if they hadn’t stayed in touch?

I’m not sure. Maybe, maybe not. I certainly wouldn’t have remembered their name and website address so quickly. (Hey, I’m fifty!)

By simply staying in touch with me, with a few well-written emails, they turned this satisfied customer into an advocate.

I’m not sure what sort of business you’re in – copywriting, design, consulting, coaching – but whatever type of service you provide, we could all learn something from that florist.

And that is… taking the time to build relationships with the people you do business with — and the people you’re hoping to do business with — pays off. Usually in more repeat business and referrals.

So ask yourself. Honestly. How well are you staying in touch with your clients, past and present, and your prospects?

Can you do better? Truth is, most of us can. Including me.