You Can’t Eat Chit Chat

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We have ample doctor time right now, and I had a GREAT opportunity to watch sales in action (well, maybe inaction). I’m always interested in learning. JD and I were hanging out in the infusion area of the doctor’s office. Okay, I was hanging out. JD is doing the cancer-busting work.

My Sales Coaching Hat

A couple of pharmaceutical representatives walk in doing their ‘thang.’ This is fun for me. put on my Sales Coach hat and begin to watch the play in action. In my mind, I’m always looking for what someone’s sales process is. If you have any TrainerTainment exposure you know, we think Prospecting, Connecting, Qualifying, Proposing, & then Closing is THE Sales process. So I measure others by that standard.  Here’s what I saw…

The Sales Process

Connect – The lead sales guy introduces himself and the guy that’s with him to the nurses. It looks as if he might be training that guy. He begins to build rapport. I’m thinking, this guy knows what he’s doing.  But then he keeps chit chatting. They talk about spring break, what are they going to do for Easter, and …and…and…

Qualify – I think he may have asked if they had any patients using a specific type of drug (I’m assuming that’s the one they sell).

Present – No

Close – Well, no. I don’t think so. It was about a 5-minute interaction. The nurses were receptive but not decision-makers. The rep shakes hands and says, “I’ll check back in a couple of weeks.”

WHY?

I nearly went crazy. Honestly, I almost shouted, “WHY?” What would you be checking on, May flowers? I wanted to help. I thought about running out after them and inquiring about what their objective was. Maybe they simply had the objective of meeting the nurses. That seems like a weird reason to spend time prospecting in that way.

I think they could have learned so much more if they had asked questions like:

“How do you decide who to buy this particular drug from?” The nurses would have information about who they buy it from and why they buy it from them and maybe if they were happy with their service or had any reason to change suppliers. Wouldn’t that have been helpful? This could have helped them understand who their competition is and potentially their focus on the budget or if that is even an issue.

“Who does the ordering and how often do you typically place orders?” That would have helped them get closer to the decision-maker or at least the decision-influencer.

The Lesson

The lesson for me is that you have to make your chit chat matter. There needs to be a purpose to the call that goes beyond meeting people in the office. They could have turned the chit-chat into a meaningful conversation because they would have learned something! With every encounter, you need to ask for something to make the call worthwhile. That’s closing.

I thought about chasing them out the door so that I could at least have the answer to my question about their original objective. Maybe he was just introducing the new guy. Instead of chasing them out the door, I started rattling off my concerns to JD. He always takes the high road and suggested that the guy already had the answers to those questions. He is so good at assuming the best.

I felt like they wasted their most precious asset (time). I hope his trainee gets to ride along with other representatives. Maybe we need to get a PCQPC script written for the pharmaceutical industry. Could be “just what the Sales Doctor ordered!”

Developing a Winning SEO Strategy for Your Entertainment Center

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When I consult with owners and operators, the two things they care about are that they want to increase sales and they want to be found online. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps accomplish both of these goals. The idea is that if you’re being found, then web traffic is being converted into paying customers. These customer conversions happen by people calling, requesting driving directions, filling out a groups event lead form, or booking a party online.

SEO evolves every day. There is a Google army of people manually checking search engine results and making adjustments based on search terms used. We’re no longer optimizing for keywords and search terms, but user search intent.  Your goal is to meet the customer in the search engine results with the right solution to their problem or question.

A winning SEO strategy requires FECs and amusement parks to think about two different sets of results:

  1. Local map results
  2. Traditional organic results

Here’s how you can make an impact with your brand in local search engine results.

How FECs and Amusement Parks Can Rank Higher in Search Engines

SEO Disclaimer: First of all, it’s going to take a lot of work and plenty of patience. The good news is that achieving SEO success can dramatically increase your company’s sales.

  • Develop Relevant and Valuable Content: If you can solve someone’s problem with the right answer at the right time, then you’re their hero! Content marketing is one of the best ways to help drive sales and improve your search engine rankings. Try starting your content marketing strategy by answering frequently asked questions.
  • A Well Optimized Website: We have now audited the majority of the US based FEC market, and most have never been optimized by a professional. Everything from proper content optimization to site structure need to be scrutinized by owners and operators. This is a wide open door for FECs and parks looking to take advantage of others’ negligence
  • Generating News About Your Business: Link building is a word that sends shivers up my spine. I do it, but I don’t trust others to do it. The reason is that it’s a practice that works but is frequently abused or misunderstood. However, generating quality and relevant links from other sites to your website will significantly help your web presence. One of the best ways to generate links from other sites to your website is through quality content.
  • Local Citations: Local citations, or mentions of your business on the Internet, have long been considered a ranking factor with search engines. The idea is that the more citations (Google My Business, Yelp, YP.com, etc) that display correct information about your business, the better the user experience is with your brand. For Google and other search engines, delivering an accurate user is experience is their number one priority. Local citations help verify basic information (name, address, phone number) about your business to search engines.
  • Online Reviews: It is believed that Google’s local algorithm pulls in a few hundred different signals to rank local businesses. One of these signals is online reviews, specifically through Google’s review system. You should be building a local SEO strategy that focuses on the number of reviews, the quality of reviews, and the freshness of reviews for your local center or park.

Implementing an SEO strategy for your entertainment center or park won’t be easy. It will take time and patience, but it can yield massive financial rewards for your business if done well. There is a massive opportunity for FECs and amusement parks to begin their SEO strategy, because the majority of their competition is completely ignoring it altogether.

Kevin Ekmark is the President/CEO of TrustWorkz, Inc, an Internet marketing agency located in Atlanta, Georgia. His passion is in local search engine optimization and paid lead generation strategies.

Getting to Know TrainerTainment’s Amy Madson

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Amy Madson, Training & Project Specialist

Over the past few years, the TrainerTainment team has grown leaps and bounds! Once a month we will get to know a TrainerTainment team member. This month we want to introduce you to Amy Madson, Training & Project Specialist. Amy has over 35+ years in the entertainment industry and has been a tremendous asset to our team and amazing coach for our clients.

What do you enjoy most about working with our clients?

I enjoy seeing our clients grow professionally and personally. Witnessing skeptic leaders change their minds 180 degrees after experiencing a 2-day business coaching launch and hearing them say, “We’ve never been more focused on this business before.” Seeing a young man with no real leadership experience and no FEC experience grow to a GM position within a year. Working with salespeople new to our industry, training them, coaching them, seeing them become successful in their positions. We make a real difference with what we do.

How long have you been in the FEC industry and in what roles?

I started in theme parks as a front gate ticket taker when I was 16, then as the Amazing Alfredo where I would guess your age within three years, your weight within three pounds, or the month you were born within two months. I ended up working 11 seasons at Six Flags in several departments but finished my time there in the Games Department as the administrative supervisor. After that, I opened the MGM Grand Hotel as an AsstMgr in the Games Department, moved next to GameWorks – Las Vegas where I worked my way up to AGM. I moved to Orlando in 2000 to open Namco’s first venture in the full-service entertainment venue market, Pac-Man Cafe/XS Orlando, and moved into the GM role. After Namco, I worked with a group of investors to open a high-end children’s entertainment venue like no other – Cool-de-Sac – in Miami. I left there as the Director of Operations and I’m now with TrainerTainment. I get to stay involved in the industry I love and use my 34 years of industry experience to help clients grow.

What is the most significant thing you have learned working in the FEC industry?

Honestly – that I don’t want kids! I’ve been “Mom” to so many “kids” over the years and that’s enough for me! I’ve also learned that it isn’t always about the product/games/environment you offer…it only matters if you can make a guest happy and they have fun, then they want to come back and bring their friends.

Which of our core values resonate with you the most?

We Believe in Fun! I try to be positive in everything I do. I’ve been in this industry a long time…because it’s fun. I’ve tried retail, hotels, office work…nothing compares to the FEC/Entertainment industry when it comes to keeping you young at heart!

Where is the best place you have traveled to and why?

Seriously. That is a trick question, right?Travel…it’s a necessity, not a luxury.

My vacation spot is Kauai, Hawaii but I’ve been to many other places I would each call “Best” in their right: Bar Harbor, Maine; Talkeetna, Alaska; Venice, Italy; Tallinn, Estonia; Lyon, France; Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic; Dawson, Yukon; St. Petersburg, Russia; Durnstein, Austria; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Regensburg, Germany; Kusadasi, Turkey; Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria…the Caribbean.

If you could speak another language what would it be and why?

Pidgin – it’s the local language in Hawaii. I would love to be able to talk story with the locals.

Vision for the Next Quarter and Beyond

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I just love ending the 1st quarter and going into the second quarter of the year, it helps you see your vision clearly. Last week our leadership team had our quarterly meeting. During this meeting we revisit the goals we set for the year, look at how we did with our first quarter goals to help set our goals for the second quarter, and see how the first quarter set the pace for the rest of the year.

Get a Vision of What is Possible

It is the time you get the vision of what is possible for the year. I remember as a young party manager, we had just finished our first quarter of birthday party sales, and I had a vision of what could be. It was really at that moment I realized, “Oh my gosh…we had a great quarter and I think we could do a million dollars in birthday party sales.” Yes! One million dollars! That’s when the vision began, and I knew it would have to be all hands on deck if we wanted to make the vision a reality and we did.

I shared that vision with Beth and our corporate team since we were in the sales coaching program. I knew sharing the vision was the first step and I also knew we couldn’t stop there. I had to share that vision with my birthday leadership team and then with every single person in our center, and that’s what we did.

Set Clear Goals

Our little birthday team was very young with just a couple of years of birthday experience among us, but we knew what we wanted. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so we set very clear goals. Our first one was to figure out how much in revenue we would need to average each week for the rest of the year to hit a million dollars. Then we looked at average revenue for each party we had in quarter one to determine the number of parties we needed to have each week to get the million dollars. W kept a very meticulous spreadsheet to update where we were and what we needed to do.

I think the real game change occurred when we shared the vision with our entire center. We became very transparent about our goals and the numbers associated with them. Every Monday, we would update the big white board in our sales office. We broke down all of our goals for people to see. At any time someone could come in the office and see how many parties we had to date, how much more we needed that month, how much in party sales we had, how much more we needed to do, and so on.  They always knew the magic number left to hit a million dollars. It didn’t matter if you were a party booker, cashier, game room operator, cook, or dishwasher; you knew what our goal was.

Be Transparent to Get Buy-In

I know most owners or managers don’t want to share those numbers with their entire staff. We knew, for everyone to see the vision clearly and have 100% buy-in, we had to be transparent about the goals and where we were. Once it was clear, we had to relay “how” each team member was an integral part of this vision.

We had quarterly center wide meetings, and I remember doing a team building exercise to show how every person in our center affected someone else and how it impacted our birthday parties. It was a great illustration that something as simple as being five minutes late could play a major impact and could be part of what made a party great or not.

That’s what I hope for you as we close out the first quarter of 2017. Reflect back on what you have done, see what you can do, and share that vision with every single person in your center. Once every person sees the vision and feels part of it…..that’s when the magic happens.

A Desire to Serve & It Shows!

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“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”  Henry Ford

A Desire to Serve

I had breakfast with a friend of mine last week at a 50-year-old restaurant near downtown Fort Worth. That establishment may have the BEST example of a business that exudes a real “culture of service”I’ve ever seen. Was it a five-star place? NO. Look it up. The Ol’ South Pancake House. It’s what you would think, except bigger!

They had lots of seats and plenty of staff. When we arrived, they found us a table (booth) as quickly as possible. There was a slight wait, but the host was so pleasant. She seemed glad to see us. Neither of us had ever been to this location, but honestly, it felt like we were part of the family.

Once seated, we were greeted by the BEST server I’ve ever had. The only way I can describe Jennifer is that she was genuinely joyful to serve our breakfast. She smiled. She verbalized how happy she was we were there. She was interested in us having the best thing for breakfast based on dietary needs and desire.

Get Your Staff Enthusiastic

Listen, I don’t know how to tell you to help your staff get enthusiastic about the choices your guests make, but I can tell you as a guest, I LOVE it! The word that comes to mind about this server is authentic. She wasn’t faking it. She was happy and joyful. She had a genuine desire to serve, and it showed.

Maybe that’s the interview question we need to ask prospective or current employees. “How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 when it comes to serving others, with 1 being I’m a help yourself kind of person and 10 representing a burning desire to serve others?” Then I would ask for an example of a time when they exhibited that kind of service.

A Spirit of Service

Back to Jennifer. She was friendly and tuned into the fact that my friend and I were going to visit a while. She never interrupted inappropriately yet tended to our every need. At one point during breakfast, my friend said, “Jennifer makes me want to ask her for one more thing just so she’ll come back to the table!” I’m telling you this woman was gifted with a “service spirit.” I know that may sound “woo-woo,” but it was just awesome!

We got to looking around, and you know what, the place was full of Jennifers. Every server was fully engaged when they were with a table. We even noticed a cranky couple at a table near us. Their server seemed to make it her mission to lighten up this meal for Mr. and Mrs. Cranky. It worked.

I think it may have had something to do with the fact that when she delivered breakfast, she did so with an enthusiastic, “Incoming!” and served them eggs and bacon in a royal sweeping style. You had to laugh. You have to get happy even when you are cranky! It’s bacon and eggs for crying out loud, and to me, it looks super important to the folks at the Ol’ South Pancake House for it to be a meaningful and fun part of each of their customer’s day. That’s a culture. They all believe what they are doing is important and they are consistently delivering service at a level I haven’t seen in a while! It was so honest and genuine.

Jennifer, if you see this…..I mean it, YOU are the best server I’ve ever had.

Wouldn’t it be cool for your guest service people to get tagged with that message?