Trust Goes Viral: What It Means for Your Small Business

January 28, 2021

Cuisine AuntDai is a Chinese restaurant in Montreal with great reviews and yet is like all restaurants, dealing with a pandemic as best they can.

The trajectory of their business shifted significantly recently when one of their customers, Kim Belair, sent out a tweet on Sunday evening, January 10, praising the restaurant and its food, yet expressing particular admiration for “the menu, featuring extremely honest commentary from the owner.”

What Kim was drawn to was commentary like this, on Orange Beef:


And this, on Satay Sauce Beef:

(There are a lot of bunny trails you can run down on the Internet today, but I suspect the one you’ll find most enjoyable is reading over the full AuntDai menu.)

Owner Feigang Fei related what happened next in a blog post:

On January 11, Monday afternoon, I received an email from a journalist from German newspaper called “Süddeutsche Zeitung” translated as “South German” saying a tweet about our restaurant went viral. I thought it was a spam and replied to ask for screenshots. She replied with the Twitter link. OMG, it was real I could not believe that tweet got almost 60K likes and 10K retweets even I am not a Twitter fan I knew it was not an easy number to get. . . .

Over the next few days, he received several more interview requests from media in the Montreal area, and it didn’t stop there:

Ironically, on the next day, Friday, Global News TV called me in the morning to request a TV interview. If I agree they would send a cameraman at 1PM to record the interview and it would be aired at 5PM. I was hesitant to show my face to the public so far there was not my picture on the internet. But I did not want to miss this great opportunity of publicity so I said yes. After Global News aired the interview on TV we immediately saw a huge increase of orders and a lot of my friends sent me the article with the video clip. Some mobile phones even popup my photo through Global News APP, that is insane!

Before the weekend, I was interviewed by The Guardian,, Food Network,,, it was everywhere. I could not believe what just happened to me.

Friday and Saturday we saw a lot of new customers and a lot of them told me they heard me on the radio or saw me on TV and they loved it.

What was it about Feigang Fei’s restaurant and his customer’s tweet which drew a worldwide response?

It’s trust. The world craves people and institutions they can trust. When they see something they can trust, they line up in front of it.

The just released Edelman Trust Barometer finds a “growing Trust gap and trust declines worldwide, people are looking for leadership and solutions as they reject talking heads who they deem not credible.” The survey reveals that business is the most trusted institution worldwide, compared to government, NGOs, and media. Business is the only institution seen as both ethical and competent.

Yet when you dig a little deeper in this survey, you find that the news isn’t that great for corporations, either. Among societal leaders, trust in CEOs isn’t much different than leaders in government, religion, or media. Over half of survey respondents agree with this statement:  “Business leaders are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”

A recent Better Business Bureau survey found that 84% of respondents are more likely to trust small businesses vs. large businesses. Trust factors cited in the survey include honesty/integrity, local people, friendly service, and good reputation.

If you’re a small business owner, here’s your opportunity:  trust is a value which is highly prized and rising for your customers. It’s screaming out at you if you listen. If you have trust among the tribe you serve, it’s arguably more valuable to your business than any one feature or benefit of your service you think is your best asset.

To cultivate trust, adopt Feigang Fei’s approach to customers:  be completely honest, even when it doesn’t benefit your bottom line.

In this case, authenticity involves saying “no” to a client who wants to buy from you, or maybe suggesting a lower-margined, lower price service you offer. If you’re a new business owner or your business is struggling, that’s hard to do. Yet if you adopt genuine, honest ways of communicating with your clients, you will benefit over the long haul.

Yesterday I had someone call me out of the blue to ask about a business advisory engagement for which he wanted to hire me. After listening to what he was looking for, I told him I’d be happy to refer him to someone else, as he’d be making the biggest mistake of his life hiring me for that job.

In the short run, it might have earned me a few bucks to say “yes,” but I would have chipped a few pieces off my trust factor, not just with that client, but with my other clients, too. I would have been spending way too much time chasing my tail with a bad engagement, taking time away from my best clients.

There are also times in your business when you need to completely ignore the bottom line and just serve. It’s part of our philosophy at Business RadioX®. The house show in my studio, “North Fulton Business Radio,” is not a money maker. On its own and judged solely by the bottom line, it’s a dud . . .  zilch. Yet “North Fulton Business Radio” is important for our business because it’s built a reputation of service, and that reputation of service has built a tribe of people who trust us and want to help us in whatever way they can. They’ve come on my show, had a great experience and received great exposure, and I didn’t ask for any quid pro quo. In return, we are blessed with a growing tribe of business leaders who love our mission and trust us.

In their book The Trusted Advisor, co-authors David Maister and Charles Green write:  "It takes two to do the trust tango--the one who risks (the trustor) and the one who is trustworthy (the trustee); each must play their role.” Our role as business owners—the trustee, in this case—is to up to the task and worthy of the trust.

If we as small business owners are worthy of the trust, we’ll have a line at our door.


Images Credit:  Cuisine AuntDai

©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray


About me:  I’m enthusiastic about how changes in pricing strategy can significantly change profitability for a business and enhance life choices for business owners. I live this passion through Ray Business Advisors, my outside CFO and business advisory practice, in which my pricing is exclusively value-based, not hourly. I work with business owners on how they can change their pricing not just to increase their profits, but better serve the wants of their customers. Click here to learn more or call me at 404-287-2627.

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