Riddell: They missed the boat
Not Business As Usual
Every business has discernible cycles. Professional managers, once they discern the patterns, plan their activities and promotions, accordingly. In other words, they use their slow time to plan for their busy times. It’s no different for the myriad of service businesses here in Grand County. Our biggest difference is we have a name for our shoulder season—we fondly refer to it as Mud Season! The real key to benefitting from Mud Season is to consciously use it to set the next stage for success.
Success for service businesses is defined as increasing revenues. Interestingly enough, while news reports of skier visits this season all indicated a healthy increase, a number of service businesses indicated that they did not enjoy the full benefit of the increase. They feel that, for some reason, they might have missed the boat. When you ask why they think they might have missed out on this opportunity, few have an informed answer. Without some productive insight, however, the chances of any significant improvement are quite remote.
I contend that the reality of this status is pretty simple. While the number of skier visits has increased, the focus of those in charge of running the ski areas has been to make their area experience all inclusive. That is, once they get visitors “on property”, they are trying very hard to keep all their visitors’ dollars “on property.” It makes imminently good business sense! What the local, non-property businesses have to do is give these visitors some viable reasons to spend their dollars “off property.”
It is always amazing to me how many business owners operate on blind faith. They believe that if they simply provide a good product with good service, Providence will somehow guide total strangers to their establishment. Not only will this Providence guide total strangers to their establishment, but these total strangers will be enticed to brave inclement weather and unknown roads to grace their thresholds. Said differently, the area managers highlight their contention that there is no need to brave said weather and roads. One can simply and safely enjoy the offerings “on property” needing nothing more than a warm jacket and a credit card.
Local businesses, however, if they want to tap into the ski area’s draw and not simply live off the crumbs are going to have to figure a way to counter this ease and comfort feature. The first challenge is to simply get these visitors and their dollars “off property” and into your place of business. For dining and drinking establishments, think about offering a happy hour discount for everyone with a ski pass. Maybe a group of restaurants could even offer a special restaurant shuttle complete with a book of discounts. The key here is making sure that every “on property” guest is made aware of this “off property” benefit. This directly implies a communication strategy that utilizes not only social media but also the local newspaper, promo fliers, and “off property” business coordination.
The very same opportunities hold true for this upcoming summer season. The main draws here, of course, are the golf courses and the mountain biking. Again, giving visitors a good financial reason to visit your establishment is critical. A happy hour discount for an 18-hole receipt or for a daily bike rental might do wonders for bringing new people into your business. Not to mention, of course, that this would also provide the golf courses and rental shops with a free benefit for their customers. This is the door operner–if you can get them in, the next challenge will be to keep them coming back!
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The iconic cone-shaped building on the corner of Yampa and 11th streets in downtown Steamboat Springs was once a wood-waste burner before being moved to become the home for Sore Saddle Cyclery and Moots Bicycles.