My wife and I spent New Year’s Day at the San Diego Zoo today and, although the weather was horribly cold, had a wonderful time.
We learned a couple of good lessons from the animal kingdom that we can all apply in the upcoming year. These are all from odd critters that you would never expect to have ideas any of us could use.
First there was the tortoise from the Galapagos Islands. These creatures are huge, weighing in at 400 to 600 pounds and when they look at you that face is UGLY. But, this fellow was over 150 years old and had lived at the zoo for somewhere approaching 80 years. The keeper said that these animals were smart for reptiles, lived in herds, and learned lessons well. They had lived at the zoo so long that everything they did was by habit. If anything new happened, they wouldn’t have a clue as to what to do.
The lesson is that it may be okay to be comfortable and it may help you live longer but the life you lead will be incredibly boring. Success in life is all about taking risks in order to grow and prosper. If you find yourself caged and bored, living the same basic pattern every day, take a few risks and start living an interesting life.
Second, there was a beehive and we were lucky enough to see the queen bee in the hive. A little background: the hive depends on the queen bee. If she were to die or be harmed in any way, the hive would break up. The queen looked ordinary except that she had a few different markings from the other bees. The extraordinary thing was that she was surrounded by eight or ten bees that protected her from everyone else. It was the only bit of organized activity among thousands of bees working in the hive.
The lesson? This hive and other beehives depend on just one individual for its existence. If you have just one or a few clients, or have one critical employee who your business depends on, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Diversify, get more clients, have more than one person who knows your business intimately.
Third, we saw a show that featured a couple of well-trained seals who did all kinds of tricks for the trainers. The seal was obviously having a great time but it also had a major incentive to perform. Every time it did the trick correctly, the trainer gave it a treat, a reward. Without the reward would the seal have performed? No.
The lesson: Reward your best customers with great products and services and they will keep coming back for more. The better you treat those around you, the better they will work for you.
Fourth, we went to see the polar bear exhibit just after dark to see the bears frolic in the water. It’s a fun exhibit and the bears are wonderful hams, bouncing balls around, jumping into the water and making a great splash. We looked forward to seeing them. When we arrived, we searched a while and finally found one bear in a corner, sleeping. All he did was move one paw a few inches. Needless to say, we were disappointed.
The lesson? Make good on your promises. Real people are making real efforts when they use your program. Make sure that your program delivers what you say it will. There is so much hype out there today that it’s hard to believe it all any more. Those who do what they say they will do and more are the ones who will win.
Fifth and last, we ended the visit with dinner at Albert’s Restaurant at the zoo. It’s a fancy eatery with high prices and quality to match. Now the zoo has a lot of people who come for one visit and they want you to come back. On the table we found a small note in one of those plastic displays that made an almost irresistible offer: Pay an additional $49 before you left that day and you could get a year-long membership in the zoo, unlimited visits to this and a companion zoo, and free tickets for friends.
Lesson? Always upsell. The real value of that one time customer to the zoo wasn’t that they attended that day. It is that they will come back and spend more money over the next year and that as a member they will receive the magazine, learn more about the animals and maybe donate money to the conservation programs. I’m not selling zoo memberships but consider how smart it is to urge your existing customers to buy more from you. The true lifetime value of a customer is not that they bought once from you but that they will buy many times from you.
I’m sure there are a lot more lessons I could come up with but this will do for today. Just remember that everything we do as business owners, sellers, and providers of goods and services is aimed at building better customer relationships and more future sales.
These few tips from a few animals at a wonderful zoo can give your business a powerful sendoff for 2011.