Ask a golf professional, club manager, or golf course owner what business they are in, and 99 times out of 100, they will get it wrong! They will say the golf business, the service business, the people business, the hospitality business, but rarely—and I ask this question to thousands of people a year—do they ever say what I consider to be the right answer. They are, of course, in the entertainment business!
A common mistake I see is companies wasting money in an effort to give equal resources to different parts of their business that may NOT deserve investment.
For example, when I first took over the marketing for a big resort in Michigan they had two distinct seasons, summer and winter. In the summer they marketed golf, and in the winter cross-county skiing and snowmobiling. While the marketing budget for the winter was smaller, it was still significant. But there was a problem. In the summer, with room rates higher, and people playing golf and eating and drinking, the average guest was spending $300 a day. In the winter, with room rates at rock bottom and rooms filled with snowmobilers who were out on trails all day, the average take was less than $100. A $200 difference in income.
After using direct mail and print ads for the first couple of winter seasons, we decided that the winter market was best left to email and the website, and that all the print and direct mail money would be redirected to increasing the summer business where margins were massively higher. It was hard for the client to accept, but to their credit they went with the new strategy and it paid off. (Of course, summer visitors become prospects for the winter season as well.) Another resort was losing money in the winter, so we told them to shut it down for two months in the winter. Again, a difficult decision for the owner but one that realized $300,000 to the bottom line with very little effort.
Don’t spend time, money, and resources in relatively unimportant parts of your business.
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When people think of growth, they usually think in terms of new locations or more products and services to reach more customers. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but this should be the last way you consider growing. The first is to look at your existing market and figure out what else you can sell them. What other product or services are your existing customers willing to buy from you?
If you have ever been to a Disney park in the height of summer, you are in for a long wait at just about every ride, sometimes an hour or more in the dripping heat. But you don’t have to wait in lines anymore. As long as you are willing to pay a substantial extra VIP fee, you can go straight to the front of the line. Not only do you see more, do more, and sweat less, you also can’t help getting that smug sense of satisfaction from looking at the poor people in line who you’ve just usurped with your VIP pass.
If you asked each of the following—all very nice people— whether they feel they have a good reputation for service, each would unequivocally say yes. Each would tell you how they love working with people, how they are excited about their jobs, and how everyone who deals with them has good things to say about them. All would be wrong because the service or the follow-up service I received from each will forever brand these people in my mind as also-rans.
The first house I bought in Florida generated a very large commission for the real estate agent who was both the listing and the selling agent. She spent a grand total of one day with my wife and me before we bought it. Now, admittedly, for one reason or another, we didn’t move in on time, but the fact remains she spent less than eight hours on a deal that made her firm tens of thousands of dollars. Did we have fruit waiting in the kitchen, a bottle of Dom Perignon, or a thank you card? NO! In fact, we got nothing—way to build your reputation lady.
Napoleon was once asked if he believed in luck in warfare. He replied, “Yes, I believe in luck. I believe in bad luck, and I believe that I will always have it. I, therefore, plan accordingly.”
I often joke that the two reasons for all failure are lack of talent and poor planning. Both are fixable. You can take lessons, coaching, and seminars to improve your talent, while poor planning is even easier to fix.
Start each endeavor with a deck stacked in your favor. Know your goals, vision, and strategic plan inside out. Know your product, know your staff, know your resources, know your customers, and know your competition. Anticipate objections, eliminate roadblocks, and be overarmed with solutions.
Speed and creativity are the entrepreneur’s greatest weapons. I have a passion for fast cars, but my passion for speed is not limited to pleasure behind the wheel. It includes my business because speed is an important strategy in business.
Two people whose books influenced my early career and made me err on the side of speed were Brian Tracy and Mark McCormick. Both men believe that most great ideas are killed or copied by others while people pursue perfection in developing them. I fully believe that a good idea executed quickly—even if it is less than perfect—will massively outperform a perfect idea that is implemented six months later. In addition, you’ll get months’ worth of leads that much earlier.