Believe it or not, the premise for this column came from a tire store.
Last Friday, I had an emergency need to get two new tires for my car. They were showing threads.
Like everyone else, I don’t go to tire stores more than once every 4-5 years. This visit, three things struck me as incredibly different.
- They met me at my car. Instead of me having to go inside to the store ‘showroom’, the employee came out to me. A requisite step in maintaining social distancing.
- I drove my car in to the repair bay, not an employee so nobody else touched the inside. Never before at any time when I need a car repair of any sort had I been allowed to drive the car in to the bay. It was always a store employee. The story always was, ‘Our insurance won’t let you.’ Guess that is no longer the case.
- Their ‘waiting room’ was now out in the repair area. In order to spread waiting customers out, the tire store had repurposed a repair bay to set up more chairs to maintain social distancing in their ‘waiting room’. Before, an auto repair store would always put the fear of God in you if you walked through the repair bays. Now, they were inviting me to sit there and watch my car being worked on.
I asked the manager about the changes. His answer,
“We had to figure out how to do business in this coronavirus environment or we were going to wither and die.
As we debated new ideas on how to do business with new rules and guidelines, I would get push back from staff and hear things like, ‘We can’t do that.’ I would shoot right back and ask, ‘Why not?’ Nobody ever really had a good answer, just some mumbling about, ‘we’ve never done it that way’ or ‘our insurance won’t let us’ (even though nobody had asked the insurance company). I would just tell them, ‘Figure it out. This is what we have to do.’”
Those same phrases came up with my own team at the Macon Bacon last week as we began the social distancing relocation process. Because we are dealing with limited inventory and have to move virtually every single account to a new seat for the 2020 season, there were going to be challenges. The team wanted the process to be perfect but that’s not possible in this day and age. As those challenges came up, I would simply say, ‘Figure it out.” It didn’t take long before our Bacon team started asking themselves, “Why not?” and figuring it out on their own.
LEADERS MUST GIVE A CLEAR VISION OF WHAT IS EXPECTED
To do business in this new world and sell tickets and sponsorships, team execs have to give a clear vision of what is expected. This means a vision way bigger than how many calls and emails should be sent out each day by your sales team. What does the vision look like for the short and long-term for the survival and success of the organization?
The tire store manager laid out his vision that they were going to stay open and had to maximize revenue while taking safe care of employees and customers.
We made it clear to the team in Macon as we are going through the coronavirus seat relocation process that the words ‘refund’ and ‘roll back to 2021’ were not in our vocabulary unless absolutely necessary – a delicate balance of short term priorities to ensure survival of our business and our long-term relationship with our clients.
Once you give a clear vision as a leader, you will quickly be able to stop asking, “Why not?” and shift to helping your staff ‘figure it out’.
THE SALES AND MARKETING STAFF MUST BE PREPARED TO ‘FIGURE IT OUT’
No boss wants to hear, ‘What do you want me to do?’ when an employee is faced with a problem. As a salesperson or marketing director for a team, it’s time to ramp up your game and your creativity. You figure it out.
- Marketing budgets have been cut. Yep, revenue is down so expenses have to go down. Find a new way to increase the ROI from your ad spends. Shift to different forms of advertising, collect more email addresses.
- People have been laid off/the economy is bad so nobody will buy. True, the economy isn’t good. But it’s going to come back – maybe quicker than we all think. Will you be ready with new payment plans, a strong ‘dormant’ list to call on and new ticket products that better fit new budgets?
- I can’t get anyone on the phone because offices are closed. Email, voice mail messages, internet research, referrals all can lead to connections, phone ‘meetings’ and sales.
- How do we ensure fan safety while still maximizing revenue? Look around and steal ideas from others who are doing it. Plexiglass shields between your concessions worker and customer like they’ve installed at grocery stores and gas stations. Put seats in places you never thought about putting seats before to add more fans (i.e., the tire store ‘lobby’ in the repair bay)
If you and your team are going to survive and prosper in this economy and the post-coronavirus world, you are going to have to figure it out and every day ask yourself, “Why not?”
If you need some help figuring it out and someone outside of your organization to challenge your thinking and ask, “Why not?” give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be delighted to help you challenge the status quo and plan for a new world.