Ernie the Hot Dog Guy

Back in the early 90’s while I was attending Ryerson University in Toronto, I had the pleasure of meeting ‘Ernie’ the hot dog guy.

Ernie was a hot dog vendor who rolled out his cart to feed hungry students at the University for 33 years.  Around campus…he was a legend.

My very first week of school I wondered why there were 4 hot dog vendors parked within blocks of each other – but only Ernie’s had a lineup?

Gradually I discovered why…the man was a marketing and customer service genius.

You see – only at ERNIE’s cart could you opt to have your dog smothered in ‘secret sauce’.  You could listen to the latest tunes from the small radio he played while you waited.  He made sure you got a handful of free ‘after-lunch’ jujubes.  And (perhaps best of all) Ernie always remembered your name.

On top of these ‘special touches‘ which made him stand out as the go-to-guy for meat on a bun…Ernie also gave back.  Big time.

He donated free hot dogs for school fundraisers and events.  He also created a bursary program for his beloved Ryerson students. One day a year he donated all his profits to the fund which provided a $500 bursary to needy students every winter when money became tight.

Ernie retired at age 78 and sadly, spent a little time in and out of homeless shelters.  At the time of his death at age 80 there was $27,000 in his bursary fund which continues to grow and assist students today.

The lesson?  

Find your jujubes.
Find your secret sauce.
Greet your customers by name and remember their personal details.
Give back.

Take a little time to think about how you can give YOUR clients extra-special treatment that will attract them to want to work with you and keep them coming back again and again.




About the Author

Hi - I'm Lisa McDonell, a Virtual Assistant who shows other women how to launch and grow their own online business, make money from home and have a fun and supportive Virtual Assistant Lifestyle.