People Power - May 2011

By Scott Humphrey

 

In this article, I want to discuss the Masters. No, not the masters of our industry or of industry in general. Not the masters of business or life. I am discussing the Masters golf championship and what you can learn from my experience attending this major sporting event.

To be a success, it is a good practice to emulate those who have achieved it. My love for golf dates from my earliest days. Some of my best memories with my father happened and continue to happen on a golf course. My brothers and I learned to catch fly balls by taking our gloves out to the practice range and letting my dad chip golf balls to us. I learned to drive a golf cart long before learning to drive a car. I remember many weekends when my brothers, my dad and I all gathered around the TV watching the golfing greats battle it out. It would be fair to say that golf is one of my favorite sports.

You might think, based on the previous statements, that I am a good golfer. I wish! But several years back, I traded my clubs in for kids. Though I can’t be actively involved any longer, I still do my best to stay connected to the sport. I never miss the major tournaments: the PGA Championship, the British Open, the U.S. Open, and in my opinion the greatest of them all, the Masters.

In April, I had the privilege of attending this event with my father and son. Though I have had the opportunity to attend before, seeing it this time through the eyes of my son made the event come to life as never before. From the moment I walked through those hallowed gates, I began to see that the Masters does many things to differentiate itself. I would like to share several observations with you so that you can apply the principles of the Masters to your business.

Create customers for life. It is not like the Masters has trouble appealing to its audience. I was told that last year two tickets to the tournament along with hotel accommodations went for $4,000. Why would they ask that much? Because they can get it. (My dad was lucky enough to be drawn out of a raffle to purchase the tickets at cost.) You would think an event this popular wouldn’t be concerned with bringing in additional patrons, but this is not so. This year, the Masters implemented a Junior Pass Program to reach out to younger golfers and potential golfers. Young men and women  up to 15 years old could attend at no charge as long as they were accompanied by a primary ticket holder. 

Here, you can see that one of the greatest sporting events anywhere is focused on establishing its viability in future generations. How about you? What are you doing to establish rapport with a new generation? Are you advertising the same old way, or are you utilizing the media sources of today? To grow your reach with new generations of customers, you must be creative, focused and diligent.

It is all about the relationship. We knew the Junior Pass Program was new, but, outside of that, we really didn’t know what to expect. We walked through the gate and were waiting at the turnstile when we were redirected to another line that was set aside just for the Junior Pass Program. There was no wait in our line. We walked right to the front and were greeted by a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, complete with his green jacket. He introduced himself, shook our hands, made eye contact and asked questions to find out more about us. When he found out that we were representing three generations of Humphreys, he replied, “That is exactly why we created this program.” He then went on to hand my son a special lapel pin developed for the event and escorted us to a booth where custom credentials were created for him. The gentleman then shook our hands again and thanked us for attending. 

Are you getting the picture? This all happened before we ever saw the course. Do you think that experience made an impression on my son? You bet! Even more importantly, it made an impression on me—the one who will likely be purchasing tickets for years to come based on this experience.

Think about this: what do customers remember when they encounter your employees? What do your employees and their professionalism say about your establishment? Would an encounter with your employees make a consumer want to come back?

Professionalism and treating people with respect is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to differentiate yourself from your competition, not to mention the big boxes. If you want to know how your consumers would answer the questions above, ask. Better yet, bring in someone you trust and query them. They don’t even have to be in the market for flooring. They just have to be honest enough to tell you the truth. 

Be confident. I remember several years ago when there was a threatened boycott of the tournament. There was speculation that the network carrying the event might pull the program. When asked how they felt about the possibility, the ruling committee for the Masters responded they were not concerned. They said that if that happened they would put the tournament on pay-per-view, and they were confident that it would be the biggest pay-per-view event in history. I am sure they were right. There is a marked difference between being cocky and being confident—the ability to back it up. 

Those who conduct business right can have the confidence and ability to get a fair price for what they offer. Pricing sends a message. If your products are over-priced, you run the risk of alienating your customer base. On the other hand, if your products are under-priced, you cheapen both them and your establishment in the eyes of the consumer.

Take pride in your reputation. I want to close by reminding you that you are always on stage. We often forget that the responsibility of leadership is the willingness to represent yourself as a leader 24/7. I know many people in this industry who are well liked but not respected. Their off-the-job escapades destroy any real credibility they have.

At the Masters, my son, my father and I decided that we needed a little rest. We worked our way over to hole number six, a par three hole with the tee box located on a hill. Spectators were allowed to sit on the down-slope of that hill while the golfers teed off behind them. All three of us reclined on the hill and consumed our refreshments. 

There were some 50,000 plus spectators there, so I was a bit startled when a gentleman walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, but I think I know you.” He went on to explain that he had heard me speak sometime in the past. The presentation had impacted him emotionally, and he wanted to let me know. He had his son with him and introduced us. I, in turn, introduced him to my son and father. It meant a lot to have my father hear someone say that our time together had impacted him positively.

When the encounter was over, all I could think was, I am so thankful that my life is consistent. What if I had been making a fool out of myself rather then reclining on the hill with my father and son? I learned long ago that in the big scheme of things I am nobody, but I am who I am. I don’t walk through life afraid that someone will see me and say, “Your life doesn’t match your words.” If you wish to be a leader that impacts, you must have consistency between your personal and professional lives. 

 

Copyright 2011 Floor Focus 



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