Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Focus on the big picture and see things from the other side. It’s all about the right mindset.

“What’s An Example of a Tense Situation You’ve Handled with Management?”

Think about umbrellas. I travel very often. I’ve had several years where I’ve spent nearly as many nights in a hotel as I’ve spent in my home. I tend to stay in higher end hotels, as I’ve worked in the luxury sector for several years. I stayed at many of our own properties, or high-end competitors, just to see how they operated or what they did differently. 

One property in particular provided umbrellas, at no charge, on your way out the door, should it happen to be raining. It was based solely on the honor system. They knew that you would be coming back, so you didn’t even have to check out the umbrella, you just take it and go. Why I’m using this as an example is, too often we are caught up on the small stuff. The attrition rate of people not returning umbrellas was higher than the property wanted it to be – somewhere in the 30% region. 

So, management was not happy that only, you know, 7 out of every 10 umbrellas taken were ever returned. I took the opposite approach. Those umbrellas were all branded with the hotel name, the logo, very largely visible from all sides, and the ADR, or the average daily rate, at this property was over $500 a night. These umbrellas, purchased in bulk, were running a little higher than $10.00 each. The marketing budget for this property was in the millions. If the property lost $10,000 a year in unreturned umbrellas, good. Great! 

For a fraction of 1% of the annual marketing budget of this single property, over time, you would have the local area littered with your name and logo on dozens, even hundreds, of umbrellas all over the city. And these were nice umbrellas, not those brutal, pop-up, compact ones, that turn inside out with the slightest breeze. These were like old-school, wooden-cane-handled, you know, big-enough-for-two type umbrellas. Fantastic marketing to have hundreds of those floating around the city every rainy day.

The downtown core is only so big, and you would start to be inundated with pedestrians that are even bothering to walk in the rain at all. I took it as a great thing, and it’s all a matter of mindset. Why get hung up on, you know, point 1% of your budget when you are offering it as an improved customer service? “Forgot an umbrella? No problem, we’ve got you covered.”, and getting the secondary benefit of top-of-mind marketing all over the downtown core. Focus on the big things don’t get distracted by the small stuff.

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Kevin O'Leary

Shark, Dragon, Entrepreneur

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