This handsome young man is called Daniel Rhodes. Last weekend at my wife Naomi’s 40th birthday celebrations, Dan (as he prefers to be called) literally wowed everyone he met. At 9 years old, there is no doubting that he has a huge talent. There is no doubting that he will become extremely well-known (hopefully). But what is absolutely clear is that Dan Dan the Magic Man knows how to deliver an amazing customer experience.

I have written blogs before about the significance of creating memories with customers – positive memories that live with you for a long time. Experiences that affect you emotionally are experiences that lead to loyalty and recommendation. Dan Dan the Magic Man is the epitome of this. It is not the fact that he is only 9 years old that allows Dan to connect with his audience. Dan is naturally very very funny. He has the broadest Lancashire accent (hailing from Rochdale), and delivers his expertise with deadpan comedic vigour.

On Saturday night, Dan not only entertained our guests, he moved on to other customers in the establishments we visited. In fact people were intrigued to know what all the fuss was about. Dan made a lot of friends on Saturday – many of whom connected with him on his Facebook page – – I guarantee that these people will talk to their friends about him. They will recommend him to others – this is the result of delivering a brilliant memorable experience.

Dan’s reputation is taking pace. On Sunday he entertained the guests of the board at Preston North End Football club. He has already done the same at Oldham Football club. Good on him. It makes the experience all the better to know that he is achieving all of this through hard work and determination. Dan’s mum Lisa – whilst incredibly supportive – is not pushy. Lisa is not forcing him to do this. Magic is Dan’s passion – he spends hours studying YouTube clips of professional magicians and practices every spare minute he gets. Lisa is wonderfully encouraging to Dan and his equally talented film making brother Harrison – her encouragement is paying off.

I was most taken by Dan’s ‘lifting trick’ He asked me to lift him up – I did with ease. He then got me to ‘look in to his eyes’, whilst he positioned his hands on my arms. Dan then asked me to lift him again – you have probably already guessed that I could not. How did he do that!!!!! Here is a YouTube video of Dan in action –

Dan formed one component of what was a brilliant birthday for Naomi, made up of a series of excellent customer experiences. We invited 70 guests (yes 70) to a birthday meal at a local Italian restaurant in Chester called La Fattoria. We are regulars of the restaurant, but have never arrived with so many people! The staff were quite simply amazing. Never flustered, they seamlessly and effortlessly coped with hordes of noisy people, delivering food quickly and efficiently. Every guest commented on how good the food and service was. La Fattoria will see many of these guests again. It was a great opportunity to show people who had not been before how good their restaurant is – they succeeded.

After the meal, we moved on to phase two of Naomi’s celebrations. Oddfellows Chester ( is a Hotel with a bar and restaurant. It is in a historic building opposite La Fattoria. It has recently been renovated to a very high standard. We had hired a private room for our guests with a DJ.

Like La Fattoria, the staff were brilliant. Personable, friendly and helpful, their proactive attention to us and our guests made the occasion very special. The room we hired was amazing – again, every guest commented on it. The emotional connection came through two people in particular. Oddfellows have a barman called Mattias Horseman. I am told by the females in our group that he is ‘very good looking’ – that might be why some of them will remember him. However most will remember him because he was amazing.

Mattias said to me that he works to be ‘whoever the person on the other side of the bar wants him to be’. Mattias really means it. So friendly and accommodating, he delivered the most memorable experience of any barman I have ever met. Mattias is a credit to Oddfellows – he will have made them a lot of money on Saturday – he will make them a lot more going forward.

The DJ was also brilliant. Paul McGuire of Wedding Jam ( was not your normal 80’s style DJ. Paul looked at me in horror when I asked if he had a microphone!! ‘We do not do that kind of thing these days’ he gently told me. Paul was the epitome of cool, whilst at the same time delivering the style and level of music that our guests demanded. It was like having a genuinely professional top club DJ of our very own. The only shame was that his performance was cut short at the request of the hotel (who did not want to disturb other guests). Once again, Paul delivered a very memorable experience.

Daniel Rhodes, Mattias Horseman and Paul McGuire did something on Saturday night that should happen every time we venture outside our homes to be entertained. These three people, of all shapes and sizes, did something that unfortunately is not common enough – they created magic! They created an experience that Naomi, I and all of our guests will remember for a long, long time. Their ability to meet and exceed our expectations has ensured that we will not only remember what they gave us, but we will tell a lot of people about it as well. The staff in La Fattoria and Oddfellows did the same.

To highlight the significance of the experiences we had on Saturday, let me contrast them with the experience we had on Sunday (the day of Naomi’s birthday itself). We had booked lunch at a new pub in Chester. It is also in a lovely old building, overlooking Chester racecourse. It is the place to be at the moment in Chester, and booking a table is not easy. Fortunately we had booked well in advance for twelve of us.

Unlike the night before, the experience was dreadful – from start to finish. From putting us in a location in the pub we had not asked for; to forgetting to give us menus; to taking ten minutes to deliver our drinks – the experience did not start well. When my brother Mark received a burger (£13 worth) that had been cremated, we were starting to worry that everything would go wrong. The waitress defended the cremation – and went to get the manager. The manager acknowledged that it had been overcooked, whilst agreeing that the chips had not been cooked enough. But the line he delivered to us demonstrates the contrast between the experiences of the night before. Naomi told him that everything was very disappointing – especially as we were celebrating her 40th birthday. The manager’s response was:

Well I can assure you that my day is a lot worse than yours

I kid you not – that is what he said. Removing items off the bill and giving us a bottle of wine is unfortunately too little too late. It will be a long time before I re-visit that establishment again. I will also be telling a lot of people about the experience we had.

We will however remember Naomi’s birthday for the right reasons. We will remember her birthday because of the wonderful people who made it special. From our friends, to Dan, to Mattias, to Paul, to the staff at Oddfellows and La Fattoria. Thank you all.