Greetings event professionals and venue operators- Happy Friday!
As I know y’all are (see… I’m getting more comfortable living in the South), Stylehawk Event Services has been grinding away this week. Every day is a little bit different in the event operations world and that rings particularly true for small business operators like myself.
I love events and event venue operations. I’m pretty good at it 😉. This is the technical work of Stylehawk. But, as Michael Gerber says in The E Myth Revisited, when “the technician in [me] dominates.. [it] is to the detriment of the overall business.” There are 3 business personalities small business owners must attend to…
“Focus is on the present and performing the hands-on work of the business.”
“Focus is on the present and achieving results through others.”
“Focus on the future and developing a vision of where he can take the business.”
The entrepreneur in me understands that client acquisition is the most important function to growing Stylehawk. The only way I know how to do this is to create mutually beneficial relationships that generate repeat and referral business partnerships. This is a big reason why I am writing this post… I believe that providing interesting and useful content to my peers creates intrinsic value. By providing this value I hope that readers will consider me a resource and contact me or refer Stylehawk if there is ever a need.
I actually think I am pretty good about giving attention to each of these business personality types. But this is where the Manager in me starts to freak out a little bit. The bigger challenge is switching between each personality type and prioritizing the needs of each. These types of growth challenges are a good thing and I can’t wait to have more of them… I just need to lay the groundwork now to act on the future opportunities when they come this way.
Now for the hand- selected readings I think event and venue professionals should read this weekend.
Monday, October 1 marked the one- year anniversary of the mass shooting at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. We all remember this terrifying and confusing incident that took the lives of 58 innocent victims and injured hundreds more. Nothing about this emergency event made sense then and very little makes sense today. As sad and as frustrating as this might be, there are some take- aways we should remember:
- Situational awareness is one of the most critical elements to surviving a crisis event. Pay attention to your surroundings, pre- plan and be decisive.
- See something. Say something. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) coined this phrase and it is a relevant one. There were red flags with the shooter’s behavior in the weeks ahead of this tragedy. If hotel staff observed this irregular behavior, reported it to management and acted upon it, then this tragedy might have been thwarted. I know we live in a politically sensitive time and this may make people hesitant to report “suspicious behavior.” In my personal decision- making matrix, safety trumps courtesy and I would encourage all to adopt that same philosophy. Below are some tips from the DHS on what might be considered suspicious behavior (note: Factors such as race, ethnicity, and/or religious affiliation are not suspicious.):
- Unusual items or situations: A vehicle is parked in an odd location, a package/luggage is unattended, a window/door is open that is usually closed, or other out-of-the-ordinary situations occur.
- Eliciting information: A person questions individuals at a level beyond curiosity about a building’s purpose, operations, security procedures and/or personnel, shift changes, etc.
- Observation/surveillance: Someone pays unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual or professional interest. This includes extended loitering without explanation (particularly in concealed locations); unusual, repeated, and/or prolonged observation of a building (e.g., with binoculars or video camera); taking notes or measurements; counting paces; sketching floor plans, etc.
- Prepare for the unexpected. As event and venue operators, I think we need to think about new threats and vulnerabilities in a proactive way. Often, industry best practices are reactive. Something bad happens and the industry retroactively creates policy and procedure to respond. It is not enough to simply implement best- practices; take situational awareness to heart.
In this articles, Forbes Magazine asked senior management from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to review three years of data and compile a list of the 20 companies that have the best customer service regardless of industry segment. The ACSI “is the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the United States. It ranks companies within their industry based on customer evaluations of the quality of goods and services purchased in America and produced by domestic and foreign firms with substantial U.S. market shares.”
I became curious in this list a couple of days ago, after a grocery store run to Publix. Having recently relocated from San Diego to Charlotte, shopping in Publix is a relatively new experience and I noticed a few things different from my typical Southern California shopping routine.
- The stores are always staffed appropriately. There are both cashiers and baggers (even late night). Long check- out lines are never an issue. In a world of grocery automation and fewer opportunities for human interaction, this is noticeable.
- When a check- out lane is open, the cashier stands in front of the aisle and greets you. This is warm and welcomes interaction rather than creating some awkward avoidance dance. There is no tentative creep around to the front of the line wondering if a cashier is going to make eye contact and invite you into her lane.
- The baggers always offer assistance to your car, even if your purchase is relatively small. This is old- fashioned, but it is nice. It means something. On top of that, they wear buttons on their uniform that makes it clear that they do not accept tips. This takes some of the pressure off and makes it a true service offering.
- This may be more of a South thing, but you are always addressed as sir or ma’am. Since moving here, I have not been called tiger, champ, buddy or man. I appreciate this… it helps ease my small- man syndrome 😜. It is also how I hope my kids address people. A small sign that the golden rule still means something.
None of these are big things, but they certainly make the experience more enjoyable and encourage brand loyalty. Unsurprisingly, Publix appears on this Forbes top twenty list with customer feedback like, “the people that work there. They make shopping a pleasure.” More surprising to me, is that Publix was not the only grocery store on the list. In fact, 6 of the top 20 businesses that provided the best customer service were grocery stores. To me, grocery stores are commodities. You often frequent the store that is near your home and that carries the products you consume (most of the major stores carry most of the major brands). What I didn’t think about is that once you get beyond this, grocery shopping becomes habitual and that is where exceptional service comes to play. Service encourages brand loyalty by consistently delivering on service expectations. People will make changes to their habitual behavior if the trigger (see below) is significant.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
This article is essentially an introspective exploration. The author recognized that no amount of teaching is going to lead him to entrepreneurial success. That would require action… For him, the key to effective action was changing his habits. To do this he focused on “learning the skills of habit- building and habit- breaking so that [he could] always adopt the right set of habits for that moment in time. There are 4 pre-eminent minds researching habit formation. Their basic theories are:
Charles Duhigg- The Habit Loop
The Habit Loop is a three- step concept that starts with a cue that triggers the habit. The routine is the behavior and the reward is the source of satisfaction from that behavior. By understanding these elements, we can form or break the habit.
BJ Fogg- The Fogg Behavior Model (FBM)
The Fogg Behavior Model (FBM) states that a trigger (cue) requires the right levels of motivation and ability. If you are motivated to do something, but it’s hard, a habit is unlikely to form. To manage this Fogg, talks about adopting small, easily accomplished behaviors that build towards the higher motivation goal. This is essentially a tool to increase inertia. Once people get going on something, they will likely participate at a higher level than the tiny goal initially set. The example they use is flossing just one tooth… most people will go ahead and floss their whole mouth once they get going.
Gretchen Rubin- The Four Tendencies
Rubin’s framework is called The Four Tendencies and it categorizes people by how they respond to inner and outer expectations. The four types are: upholders, questioners, obligers and rebels. The article even includes a quiz to see what you are (spoiler- Obliger is the most common type and I am one of them…).
Nir Eyal- The Hook Model
Eyal started an in- game advertising platform for a social media entertainment app. He discovered The Hook Model when researching why users were addicted to his platform. The basic concept is that a trigger (internal or external) prompts a simple action that leads to a reward (the reward is likely to be varied… a gamble creates the addictive tendencies). This reward then asks for an investment. It is a more developed Habit Loop. Your Facebook News Feed is the Hook Model in action.
In general, I think there is often a disconnect between what people expect a job to be and what it really is. This disconnect is what then leads to work dissatisfaction. The task or the job may not even be that bad, but if expectations are off, things get off the rails. Working in sports event management is a pretty cool gig and I consider myself very fortunate to have found my way into this profession. With that being said, I think it is important that people understand what it truly means to work in this field. This article is intended to be a realistic look at this career.
Featured Venue: Peterson Gym
There are 6 dimensions we have identified in sourcing venues for sports events. Peterson Gym on the campus of San Diego State is a largely undiscovered regional asset. In this article, we review those dimensions and see how Peterson Gym stacks up. 🏟