Turning Clients into Longtime Friends: March Madness

By Rick Ormsby
Managing Director
[email protected]

5 Ways a Customer Can Become a Lifelong Friend: A March Madness Story

March 22, 2018

I am a basketball fan, youth coach and entrepreneur building the Unbridled Capital brand. I hope you’ll appreciate some wisdom from me on how a customer can become a lifelong friend – through the lenses of March Madness.

Yesterday, I got a phone call from my first client from 13 years ago. He is a Kansas State fan, I am a Kentucky fan, and our teams are facing each other tonight in the NCAA Sweet 16. It should be a great game for both Wildcats fans.

Greg and his wife Barb used to be small and successful Taco Bell franchisees in rural Kansas. One day in late 2005, they got a phone call from me. I had left Yum Brands Corporate, was intent on starting a new venture doing M&A work and was scratching and clawing to find my first client. My wife and I had just bought our first house, our daughter was a newborn, and I was calling thousands of franchisees with no clear path to earning a living. Many of you can remember a time like this – a strange mix of uncertainty, anxiety, faith and excitement.

Greg picked up the phone, and surprisingly, he and Barb wanted to sell their stores. They quickly let me handle the transaction. The sale happened successfully in a few short months.

My business life has taken a successful turn over the years, resulting in billions of dollars of M&A transactions, hundreds of clients and thousands of restaurants sold. Unbridled currently has almost 700 restaurants for sale. What a blessing from such a humble beginning.

Greg/Barb and I had a business relationship that lasted only a few months, but we are good friends to this day. We have shared Christmas baskets. We ask about each other’s children. We care about each other’s health and well-being. I daresay that we will never forget each other, and they are an important part of my life story.

This first customer, and many years of coaching, have taught me 5 valuable lessons on who to become a lifelong friend:

  1. Outwork everyone – in business, basketball and life, success rarely comes easily. Hard work gets results, and people notice it. Don’t buy the lie that you can work less and earn more.
  2. Focus on winning – the best teams and entrepreneurs get victories. You must win at something. Be narrowly focused on winning whenever you can. No one likes a loser.
  3. Care authentically – a generational player cares deeply and personally about their customer or team.
  4. Be unafraid of your frailties – opponents know your weaknesses. Instead of trying to hide them, show your frailties within reason. This makes you relatable and more likely to form relationships.
  5. Build your brand – build your brand, not just a service or widget. Otherwise, you will be forgotten after the deal closes or your best player goes to the NBA.

This formula has worked very well over the years in turning clients into longtime friends. At Unbridled Capital, you will find that we care deeply about the personal livelihoods of our clients – way beyond a business relationship alone. This translates to better results in protecting your life’s work.

Enjoy March Madness 2018! And if you are interested in selling or financing your business, I welcome your call anytime.

Rick Ormsby
Managing Director
[email protected]