Welcome to the Merchants of Dirt Podcast Episode #12, hosted by Reckoneer.com founder Kyle M. Bondo. This is your insider’s guide to practical recreational engineering where I teach you the art and science of building, promoting, and directing off-road races. In this last episode of 2016, we’re going to find out why simply improving the way you treat people, your business will be rewarded with customer attendance, money, and most of all, their love.
In This Episode
Strategies for picking your race dates
Coffee’s for Closers
Bring you failing adventure race business back to life
Get your 90-Day Roadmap and companion eBook
Call to Action
Happy New Year!
Meanwhile, please enjoy this special New Year’s edition of the Merchants of Dirt Podcast with regular theme music replaced by Carol of the Bells Rock by bequadro. This version of Carol of the Bells is an uplifting and upbeat full power arrangement in rock style of the popular Christmas carol composed by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914. The song is based on an Ukrainian folk chant called “Shchedryk”. Enjoy!
How to retain customers for life with the Disney Way
Racing is a people business. Or better yet, the business of managing people’s expectations. People expect you to provide a certain level of performance and service during each one of your events. If you’re disorganized, indifferent, or snobbish, you can form your own expectations about your business very quickly — you can expect to not have any customers. No customers, no business. When I say that racing is a people business, what I really mean is that you need to put every effort into finding ways to retain customers. You must be deliberately focused on creating the most positive experiences you can manage for every customer you come in contact with.
A better way
The customer is SELDOM right. But it is your JOB to make them FEEL like they are right. See the difference? One is capitulation, the other is strategic. One is rolling over and giving the customer whatever they want when they throw a fit, the other is a pre-planned way to deal with a fit-throwing customer, that everyone in your company is prepared for, and already has the power to deal with. That is the power of a customer service strategy. It is your plan for how you will treat customers, teach your staff how to treat customers, and deal with customer actions before they happen. The Disney Approach is an example of a customer service strategy that has 50-years of proof to back it up. You cannot argue with 50-years of dealing with every kind of customer under the sun. That is why The Disney Approach is a perfect example for you to model our own customer service strategy after. You’re not going to become Disney, that would be unrealistic. But you can emulate Disney’s approach by re-aligning your business to help you also retain customers for life. Does this sound difficult to do? It shouldn’t. Remember, Disney has been doing it for 50-years.
Dedicating yourself, and your business, to helping your customers experience the best side of customer service is achievable. Disney has been doing this for 50-years. Disney continues to do this every day. Hopefully, after this episode, you will know how to do this too! Are you ready to learn how to retain customers for life? Then let’s start helping your customers by first changing your customer service strategy.
Your first customer service strategy
The Disney Approach was not created overnight, so give yourself some time to take all of this in. You will first need to understand what goes into a customer service strategy. Then, once you know all the pieces, you can start working on what parts of your racing business need to change before others. Your strategy should focus on at least these seven (7) key elements:
- #1 – Be guest focused, not customer focused
- #2 – Set team expectations
- #3 – Teach team behaviors
- #4 – Empower your team to go Above and Beyond
- #5 – Everyone collects feedback
- #6 – Setting is important
- #7 – There are no menial jobs
#1 – Be guest focused, not customer focused
Disney does not call customers “customers”. They call them guest. If you think about it, calling your customers “guest” completely changes the relationship you have with them. Customers are people that share a transaction with you, then go away. There is no connection to you or your business. Customers are rather lifeless entities that “consume” your service, and when full, move on to consume something else. A guest, on the other hand, is a respected visitor. Guest is symbolic of someone you invited to your race, just as you would invite them to your home for dinner. A guest is not a casual encounter, it is an intimate connection between you, your event, and their experience. If you start to think of customers as The Guest, your entire customer service point-of-view changes drastically.
#2 – Set team expectations
You are responsible for creating a unified vision of your racing company. This vision needs to contain a clear message that is communicated in every training you give your staff and volunteers. If you remember from before, Disney declares that their mission will be to become “… one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment…”. How do they do this? Disney uses something they call the “Disney Way”. They find out how to please their guests by doing research on them, finding out who they are, and then acting on that research. Disney combines research, guest preferences, and expertise to assure that the company fulfills its mission. This is the foundation for team behavior towards guests. They have to know why before they can learn how.
#3 – Teach team behaviors
When your team knows why you need them to be friendly, approachable, and helpful towards guests, you need to help them learn how. The how is more involved, but achievable when everyone knows why they are doing it. The goal is to teach everyone a set of behaviors, mannerisms, terms, and values that are specific to his/her job function. It is what some might call the “cheat-sheet” to how to greet and thank guests, how to act in front of them at all times, and how to answer questions when asked. It is centered around your service standards.
#4 – Empower your team to go Above and Beyond
You need to empower your team to solve problems. They need to be able to read into guest questions and go above and beyond in answering them. However, if they cannot act without your approval, then you will never be able to give your guests the best service you can deliver. You need to provide your team with an understanding of what they can and cannot do for a guest. You also need to avoid combustion points by controlling the areas that your team and guest will come into communication with each other. Give them the capability to do specific guest-focused tasks, without needing your approval each and every time.
#5 – Everyone collects feedback
Permission to go above and beyond also includes collecting feedback. If you think about it, your staff has far more interaction with your guests then you do. Use them to collect information on how everyone is doing during your event. Your entire staff should be attempting to determine the feelings and attitudes of all your guests at all times. They should also be checking in with you at specific times to give you updates on how guest are doing. This is an important step in collecting feedback that is normally found in surveys, testimonials, and reviews. Get this feedback live, has it happens. But also think about collecting this feedback after the fact too. Face-to-face feedback is going to be important in judging what is, and is not, working during your race. Guests base their decision to return on how they felt about their experience, not whether or not they won the race. You owe it to your business to find out what those feeling are, and how you can go about improving them.
#6 – Setting is important
Your setting is wherever your guests meet you. In racing, we call this the venue. Your setting is often the first impression your guests have of you, your staff, your race, and your company. This is why it is important to be aware of your setting at all times. If you think about any experience you’ve had with Disney, their setting shouts “Disney” at all times. Disney uses the same building materials for all their walkways, they have their logo on everything they sell, their staff wears easily recognizable uniforms, the list goes on and on. All Disney settings speak to their guests and constantly communicate what is included in a Disney setting, and what is out of place. Everyone on your staff should be looking and acting on all the things in your setting without being told to do so. They should be your first and last line of defense in keeping your setting ideal for guests. However, the only way they can possibly know this is if you tell them, and give them the power to deal with it when it comes up.
#7 – There are no menial jobs
All the jobs you have your staff doing must tie back to your overall mission. This means that a job that does not tie back into the mission should not be something your staff is doing. That being said, your staff needs to be fully aware of how their job DOES tie back into your company’s mission. This is an important part of teaching them how to become guest-focused. If they know how their job connects to the overall goals and objectives of the company, they will feel that their work matters. If they feel their work matters, they are more likely to embrace your service standards. Make your staff matter by making their jobs matter to the mission of your company.
Embrace the Disney Way
Your final “weave” of these seven elements into your “guest services strategy” will be the new benchmark in how your business works. You must first believe that your guest’s experiences matter. If you dedicate yourself, and your business, to helping your guests have the best experience possible, you will create more than a loyal customer: You will create a fan! The goal of your strategy is to take your next customers, treat them like valued guests, and turn them into lifelong fans. Do whatever it takes to make that process come true, and you will never have a problem selling your race.
And Know you know.
Coffee’s for Closers
In this week’s Coffee’s for Closers goes out to Adventure Addicts Racing. Adventure Addicts Racing was founded in 2011 by friends and former teammates Michelle Faucher and Andy Bacon because they loved adventure racing and wanted to help grow the sport. Andy has since moved on, and Michelle has restarted AAR with her new partner Liz Notter. If you don’t know who Michelle Faucher and Liz Notter are: Michelle is a world class adventure racer with a Primal Quest under her belt and at least a hundred Expert and expedition level adventures race wins to her name with Team Halfway There, while Liz is one of the few American mountain bike orienteering athletes to have ever competed in the World MTBO Championships overseas.
Adventure Addicts Racing (@adventureaddictsracing) is a small company — now recently restructured into a non-profit business — that puts a tremendous amount of care into each one of their events. They love adventure. They love to race. They love the outdoors. And they are addicted to it. But the question now is — Are you? Have you always wanted to ride a bike, trek through amazing terrain, paddle down a river, learn to read a map? Just don’t know how or where to start?
Well, Michelle and Liz have a special event just for you! If you’re a veteran — or even a beginner — adventure racer in or around the Washington DC Metro area: that’s Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or even North Carolina (but folks from as far away as Tennessee or even New York have shown up for AAR events) — AAR is holding their 3rd annual winter adventure race called “The Chill” on January 14, 2017, at Little Bennett Regional Park in Montgomery County, Maryland.
This race featured both a 3-hour and 6-hour course full of trekking, mountain biking, and navigation on miles of trails, fire roads, and forest that is the perfect place for a winter escape. If you lucky, there might even be a little snowshoeing too. But according to Michelle and Liz, the snowshoeing part is optional!
So don’t let the winter blues get you down. Join Michelle, Liz, and all sorts of adventure racers for “The Chill” Adventure Race on January 14th, 2017. Registration is still open until January 8th at adventureaddictsracing.com with 100% addiction guaranteed.
Thank you so much for listening to Merchants of Dirt Podcast and for helping this show make it to episode #12. This was our last episode of 2016 but I’ll be back in 2017 with episode #13. And what’s a lucky number #13 episode if not one dedicated to our co-host, Mr. Murphy! However, lucky #13 will not be our only Mr. Murphy episode. Episode #13 — Due to air on January 10th, 2017 — will be the first of 4 cautionary tales dedicated to topics Mr. Murphy wants to talk about. Just to tease you a little (since Mr. Murphy LOVES surprises) we’re going to get into risk management, disaster recovery, and how to bounce back when everything goes wrong! Because when you’re dealing with Mr. Murphy, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. No worries! That’s not for another year!
Call to Action
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