I just spent the past three days with my wife driving around the coast of Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel Valley, and the incredible 17-mile Pebble Beach drive in California.

Did you know Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel for a couple of years?

Along the way we dined at many wonderful establishments, we visited many beautiful art galleries, and we shopped at a variety of businesses. Each time we were treated to some of the most memorable customer service I’ve ever experienced. I have yet to be disappointed.

It made me wonder, why do they really care? I mean really, why? They know we might be back someday, but we don’t really have a chance to become “lifelong loyal customers.” The know we probably won’t be back next week to spend more money. I’m sure we stuck out like a sore thumb.

Here’s why they care:

Loyal customers are the beating heart of every great business. But most companies act like adrenalin junkies, chasing after new customers at the expense of cultivating deeper, and more profitable relationships with their existing customers.

Here are two of the most important reasons to cultivate lifelong customer relationships:

1) You won’t have to continuously search for new customers: Evergreen organizations enjoy the added benefit of not having to succumb to the “new customer frenzy,” the endless pursuit of the new customer. Their companies will grow with a viral-like effect.

2) Sales & Profits Increase: When you’re spending less time focused on new customers, you can spend more time nurturing the relationships with your existing client base. You’ll spend fewer dollars prospecting for new customers and trying to close business, and you’ll be able to spend more time and effort on maximizing the profits from your existing customer base.

Of course, that’s not to say you won’t get tourists. Tourists are often just visiting. They might only need your product one time. They might only need it because their main provider (your competitors) wasn’t available at the time. Maybe it was the cheapest at that moment. Who knows?

It really doesn’t matter.

The key is to remember to treat them the same. Don’t treat them like tourists – treat them like the locals. These places get it.

We might never be back to Carmel and may never drive the coast of Big Sur again, but we’ll be sure to tell people our favorite spots, and if we do make it back, we know the places we’ll be sure to visit.

Even a tourist is often worth so much more than just a single transaction.

Today’s Thinking Point: Is your company mindful of those who are “just passing through,” or are they being treated like tourists?