Friday, August 3, 2012

Happiness is

My wife works at a large University. She recently attended an 18 hour management seminar – 3 hour sessions, twice a week for 3 weeks. When the ordeal was over I asked her what she felt she had learned. She smiled at me and said that I could have taught the course and that the core message was that no matter what you are selling, even academia, you are selling an experience that comes about as the result of having created a culture that delivers and develops the desired experience. 

She had helped me edit and type “The Winning Golf Culture” and so she knew that her summation of her findings would resonate with me. I asked her how she thought that manifested itself as at her particular college and she quickly replied HAPPINESS

Now this gave me pause and I suddenly felt that I had learned something from the seminar. The most evocative messages always seem to come in the simplest packages. I was reminded of what I’ve always considered the genius of Coca Cola’s IT’S THE REAL THING

A customer calls to book a tee time. What has happened in his or her mind – probably at least some of the following:
·         Taking the day off from work.
·         Weather report is good.
·         Picking up good friends to make a 4-some.
·         Course was in great shape last time I played
·         Drinks and good conversation after the round.
·         Practiced yesterday. Hit it well.
·         Opportunity to impress guests with your choice of haunts.

Whether any or all of these are the case they have just booked 4-5 hours of happiness. It is now our job to do everything that we can to fulfill that experience. The only way to do this is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think through the event, step by step. Imagine it, feel it, you’ve encountered it elsewhere; that day away from the office, of total relaxation, of golf and happiness. 

Now ask yourself does this vision, this virtual be the customer dream produce happiness at your facility. Is it the primary goal of your staff, are their people skills honed to this purpose – is it their priority. Is it the primary function of the rest of the services provided and the presentation whether it be the beverage cart, locker room or the merchandise in the shop.

I probably suggest too often that staff meetings are great places to discuss these concepts, inoculate the staff with the culture and ask for their input and ideas to continue to develop it.
We all have had the personal incident and that caused us to tell stories of service and expertise that made an incredible impression and subsequent understanding. Think of Disney and their young and transient staff. They consistently provide the experience through training and an on-going culture that defines explicitly “the role”, defines expectations, empowers the staff to provide what the culture preaches and has the employee who most recently performed “the role” mentor their replacement before they move on. I love the line in the Mad Max movie from the tribe of kids that save Mel Gibson in the desert who are raising themselves and clinging to the hope of rescue with the “tell” and a culture of “tell the tell”. 

The Disney culture is a “tell the tell” culture, but it didn’t spontaneously combust. Its structure, history and ability to recreate itself are epic and worthy of study. It is unique in its size and grandeur and thus genius. They get it, they sell happiness. They make me think enough of my venture into their world to want to mention it to others. I am impressed when I park my car at the thought that was put into this normally insignificant part of the trip.  I am obviously not implying that golf facilities be run like Disney, as a matter of fact the directive, authoritarian management style to maintain the “script” is not conducive to the golf culture, but the attention to detail and the buy-in on the part on the part of the staff are uncanny.

Any time spent by a customer/member at your facility that does not produce this pleasure with the experience and desire to tell others is a missed opportunity. Miss enough opportunities and customers stop providing them – time runs out. Provide an incredible happening and listen to golfers discuss it when they don’t know who you are or don’t think that you are listening. Know that you have developed a culture that provides enough class and wow factor to produce and significant word of mouth. 

Run with it, this is the Adrian Peterson type of scoring that buries the competition