Thinking about our needs — instead of the customer’s situation…

Hello from Paris!

I am just here at the airport, changing planes on my way to a speaking engagement in India.  And, while I was in the airport lounge, I came across a new ezine from my great friend, Mark Mayfield.  

  • (You should REALLY sign up to receive this — they are uniformly funny and highly insightful!  Mark is the BEST luncheon, after-dinner, or humorous keynote speaker out there…and the fact that I’ve known him since I was a teenager has nothing to do with it. Just click on his name above to go to his website.)

Mark writes, “Despite other airlines increasing profits, Frontier is down in revenue and traffic in the last quarter.  In an attempt to reverse that, they will start charging up to $100 for a carry-on bag.

Can’t imagine that not working.”

Isn’t it the truth?  The airline — and the same is true of many companies in other industries — look at their numbers, and desiring increased performance, put more on the backs of customers.

  • Seriously — up to $100 for a carry on?  I will fly someone else, just on principle!

What if — instead of creating a ridiculous fee — instead, Frontier decided to get better?  What if they chose to have better customer service, better on-time performance, friendlier employees, and better schedules?

The airline folks say that customers have spoken — they want cheap airfares.  But, customers aren’t stupid.  They know that if you’re going to charge them for a carry-on…as well as a checked bag…a cheap airfare masks a larger total price.

(By the way, in fairness, the fee is $25 if paid up front — $100 if paid at the airport — but, Frontier has also added a surcharge for tickets that are not purchased via their own, proprietary website.)

Here’s another question — what is so distinctive about Frontier that an additional charge is something we’d pay because their experience is so superior?  I can’t think of anything…can you?

Mark Mayfield has this exactly right…with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and fingers crossed, let me join him and say, too…

“Can’t imagine that not working!”

Thanks for a terrific program…

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to keynote the convention of the American Wholesale Marketers Association at Amelia Island, Florida. I’m very, very appreciative of what they posted on their website right after the presentation, and am honored to share it with you:

“That was an incredible presentation,” said Nick Zaden, City Wholesale Grocery Co., Birmingham, AL. “That was the best we’ve ever had. He really got you to thinking, ‘how can I get my people to do that?’ That was worth the trip.”

Zaden made those comments after an inspiring, informative, and entertaining keynote presentation by business author Scott McKain, who received a standing ovation after encouraging attendees to examine their company’s focus and how it relates to customers if they want to win in the future.

“The more that you can do to create distinction to stand out, the more likely you will be successful in the future,” said McKain, who peppered his remarks with stories and anecdotes of how companies do this successfully. But he cautioned that simply trying to copy what successful competitors are doing won’t work. The key, he said, is to focus on the customer.

And don’t rest on your laurels, advised McKain, noting that “Familiarity breeds complacency. The more familiar your customer are with what you do, the more they will take you for granted…and vice versa.”

The key, he added, is the people who make the company work. “Companies do not change,” he said, “the people and the leaders within those companies change.”

McKain also advised distributors that their “competition isn’t another wholesaler; that’s part of it, but its based on the overall experiences customers have. So we have to strive the best, period.”

“That was an outstanding presentation,” said Debbie Robins, president, Century Distributors Co., Inc., Rockville, MD. “It was insightful and informative. It had me laughing at one moment and nearly in tears, the next. In fact, the entire program this morning was excellent.”

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