February 3rd, 2019
President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk, “The Buck Stops Here.” It was his way of saying that ultimately, he was responsible, there was no one left to pass the buck to. It would be so nice if that happened today. Far too often, people today are looking to slide responsibility to others. In our organization, we hope that we empower our staff to take care of issues or concerns so that doesn’t happen.
One of the tenets of a successful business is to under promise and overproduce. This is not my thoughts, but it certainly rings true. They are words that we as a company have tried to make part of our fabric, part of our philosophy. Imagine buying an airline ticket with the expectation of being crammed in a middle seat at the back of the plane. Then you arrive at the airport and are told that you have been selected for an upgrade; first class with your choice of a window or an aisle seat. Regardless of the length or destination of said flight, it is pretty much guaranteed that your experience will be far better than you expected as you journeyed to the airport.
By the same token, there are few things that rankle people as much as things that fail to live up to the promises they have made. Phones that you spend significant money on that fail after 6 or 12 months, cars that seem to spend more time in the shop then in your possession. Perhaps no specific promise was made, but their advertising and sales pitches certainly made you believe that you were making a good investment.
Several years ago, we bought into a time share that then turned into a vacation club membership. Don’t worry this is not one of those we-bought-a-timeshare-and-now-we-want-to-dump-it sob stories. We love the investment we made. Our vacation club home location is in Aruba and we love the island. We have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and most recently our son’s engagement there. It has become a very special place for our family. Over the years, we have gotten to know a few folks on the island and always enjoy seeing them each time we visit. Another benefit is that, in some ways, it forces us to take some time off each year –something I don’t always do.
With that said, here is a good example of over promising and under producing. Each year we travel to Aruba we need to meet with a sales rep to “go over any changes in the plan and to talk about changes at the resort.” What it really is, of course, is a sales pitch to increase our membership level. Each level that you buy has specific additional amenities that you receive. Almost every time we go the amenities aren’t what we were promised or expecting. They are different each time and often don’t meet the level of our membership. Every time we let them know but it never seems to get resolved. Although they are not major issues, they are put in place to make our experience more special. For example, we were supposed to get expedited check in, a separate check in line, access to our room earlier, discounts on property, free golf equipment, a welcome gift in our rooms and upgraded bathroom amenities, among other stuff. Some of this we received but some of it we did not. We waited in the same line as everyone else and our room was not ready until 4PM (the same time as everyone else, member or not). Not only did we not get upgraded bathroom amenities, we got none at all. When we were there last year, we had two rooms and got two welcome gifts. This time we had four rooms and got one welcome gift.
None of this had a significant impact on our vacation and to some it will sound like whining. My point is they are selling an experience that they don’t deliver on and then want you to invest at an even higher level. This last time the finger pointing was almost laughable. In other words, the buck couldn’t be passed fast enough, and it never seemed to stop. We mentioned it to one of the sales managers that we have dealt with several times and she immediately blamed the front desk and housekeeping staff AFTER trying to tell us that maybe our membership level was not entitled to what we thought. That argument fell by the wayside quickly when my wife produced a document that they had sent us several weeks before our vacation letting us know what to expect.
There are so many problems with all of this. First and foremost, our issues never got fixed and no one ever apologized to us. Never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned apology. Their sales managers, especially one with well over a decade at the property, should have known what the membership levels include. Someone should have fixed the issues immediatelyand there should have been follow up by someone on their sales and housekeeping teams. Did this really impact our vacation? No, but it does impact whether we will buy additional points going forward or how enthusiastically we will recommend someone buy into this program. They have had several opportunities to turn us into walking advertisements for their business and they have failed. Not to mention the fact that there is a lot of new construction on the island and competition for guests is increasing. It’s just not good business.
Now, here is the tie back into not only what we do but what our clients do as well. Whether you are selling something or putting on an event, at the very least, deliver what you promise. If you want to turn customers, clients, or event attendees into advocates, deliver more than you promise. We talk to our staff all the time about what the focus of FUN Enterprises is. We have a dual focus on our clients and on our staff. For both groups we try to under promise and over deliver. If you are curious as to what I mean or how we do it, send me an email or give me a call. My name is Ken Abrahams, VP for Client Relations and I can be reached at 781/436-3187 or [email protected].