Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fudgies, Flatlanders, and F.I.P.s . . .

. . . Embrace Drummond’s Tourists Warmly!

Tourists are like grandparents – they come to visit, bring lots of stuff, generate some excitement, then leave.

The “stuff” these grandparents bring, however, is actually money. Money that fuels Drummond’s economy.

Money – in these hard economic times – that fewer and fewer tourists are bringing Drummond’s way. For our community to stay vital in this ever changing and competitive tourist market, then local business people and their staffs need to do everything they can to keep folks coming back – coming back and bringing friends and family with them.

Drummond has a long standing tradition of warm hospitality. Just stop by Sune’s Hardware some Saturday if you want to get a sense of what Gary Hernbroth – president of Danville, California-based Training for Winners – means when he says, “It’s the first-line, front desk staff that have the power to generate the magic.” At Sune’s no question goes unanswered, no conversation is complete without a smile and a laugh. No one is ever too busy to answer the phone, find a tool or offer advice. Traits Hernbroth says are essential for all businesses in a community based on the tourist industry.

Hernbroth teaches owners of businesses that cater primarily to tourists that they need to translate their passion for their business and their community to their employees who meet and greet visitors. Jim Kelley of North Haven obviously understands this – Jim is passionate about everything Drummond and it shows.

And I don’t believe anyone gets away with not being greeted by Sue McCaskill whenever she is in residence at The Northwood. Her smile warms up the dining room like no one else’s as she passes from table to table checking on coffee levels and sharing a quick story or two.

However if Drummond Island is to stay competitive, if it is to continue to draw tourists worried about gas prices this far north, then it is best to not rest on past laurels. Hernbroth, in his training sessions for tourist industry stakeholders, offers five rules for providing better service to customers:

Be easy to do business with – It is estimated that 68% of non-returning customers stop patronizing a business because of a perception that the business was indifferent to their needs. Who is answering your phone – is ANYONE answering your phone?!

Listen to your customers – Ask them, “How are we doing?” Customer’s perceptions are more important than what managers think they know. The public’s perception of your business is their reality – and one they will share with others. When someone complains about the service they received take the time to listen closely. Compliments are nice, complaints heeded help your business grow and improve.

Look at little things – Cleanliness in the hospitality industry is BIG! If your bathroom is a mess and customers see that, what’s your kitchen like?

Ask for ideas – Business managers/owners should involve their staff in moving their businesses forward by challenging them to regularly contribute ideas. Employees are on the front line and often see – or hear - the little things managers miss.

Identify your passionate workers – They are the top-performing workers who are already finding ways to help the business. Reward them. Build around them. Clone them!

When the Michigan Tourism Industry Planning Council got together with Eastern Upper Peninsula stakeholders during one of their Listening Sessions, and asked them to rank their most important concerns by vote *Visitor Experience* came out on top. Participants said they needed to guarantee that tourists felt their experience in the E.U.P. was: friendly, full of fond memories, fun, adventurous, enjoyable and left them with a desire to return.

Yes, they are Fudgies, Flatlanders and F.I.P.s – but they are also Drummond Island’s bread-and-butter. Remembering to always follow Gary Hernbroth’s Five Rules for Better Service will ensure that Drummond Island retains its title of “Gem of the Huron”.

On a final, lighter note –

A flatlander dies and goes to Heaven. St. Peter is showing him around. Everything is glorious. There is a music hall with every kind of music, all played with angelic perfection. The dining hall offers food beyond compare.

And the residences, St. Peter assures him, are comfortable beyond all imagination. On their way to the residence halls, they turn down a hall where everyone is chained to the wall. St. Peter offers no comment as they continue down the long passageway. After a few minutes the man asks St. Peter. "If this is Heaven and everything is so wonderful why are these people chained up?"

St Peter answers, "Oh. Those are the downstate Michiganders – Flatlanders. If we don't keep them chained up they try to escape to their cabins on Drummond Island during the weekends."

Let’s keep ‘em coming!


lee woo said...

No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky. See the link below for more info.


Shea Kang said...

To succeed we must BELIEVE that we CAN.
It's a great pleasure to read your blog. Keep on sharing some kind of knowledge. Have a good day :)