Eight Things I Learned About Business At The Masters

The 2012 MastersDon’t be jealous sports and golf fans, but I had tickets to Wednesday’s practice round to The Masters.  Although I am a self proclaimed hacker, I truly enjoy playing as much as I can.  It is never enough, though.

Afterwards as I reflected on the day, the sights, and the sounds, I realized that my day was a lot like a typical day at work.  There are things I saw and experienced there that can be applied on a daily basis in a business.  Here are 8 things I learned about business at The Masters.

  1. Have the right credentials.  I was asked to have my ticket ready several times as I was approaching the main gate.  After I got in, I was constantly looked at to make sure i had it, especially at the beginning.  It was also very clear where I could not go.  In business, you also need to have the right credentials.  The credentials are not just your degree or education, but also your experiences and what you have to bring to the companies you are working with.  Also, your value to the company and customers allows you to get into places where not everyone is allowed to go.
  2. Always make sure you know your customers know who and where you are.  I knew I was at Augusta National.  The Master’s logo and name was everywhere.  But even if the logo and name were not present, I would have know where I was just because of the atmosphere.  In your business, do your customers realize where they are?  Even if you do not have a standard storefront or a brick and mortar business, is the way the way you carry yourself present a positive image of who you are?
  3. The basics are easy to get, but the extras are expensive.  At Augusta National you can get food and drinks at almost ridiculously low prices.  I was able to get 3 sandwiches, two sodas, a beer for $10.50.  At any other sporting venue, the beer would have been nearly $10.50.  However, a ball marker was $11.00 and an inexpensive shirt was $85.00.  The basics, here as food, in business are easy to learn.  And typically have a low cost in time and money to obtain.  However, the extras are not.  Getting necessary advanced degrees, certifications, and skills take money and time (the most valuable asset of all).  If these are important to your business and customers, get them.  If not, don’t.
  4. Customer Service is key to not only success but efficiency.  The service at Augusta National was, as expected, top notch.  However, it was almost baffling how good it really was.  I could check or ship my golf shop purchases.  The lines were extremely long, but I never felt like I was “waiting in line” because they were quick.  Also, a down tree knock out of commission a set of facilities around the 16th hole.  But a temporary was set up and the repairs were being completed in about 24 hours.  In business, you have heard about having great customer service.  It builds your repeat business and provides a basis (not a competitive advantage) for growing your business.  However, customer service does make your business more efficient.  By planning you business processes by the way your customer will react to needs and wants, they can get to your business and through the line more quickly, effectively, and happily.
  5. Unless you make a plan, you won’t see people you know.  I personally knew two people who were going to be at The Masters.  One I saw and one I did not.  One I had a plan to meet with and one I did not.  You can guess which one I saw.  Many people grow their network and their business by going to places where there are going to be a lot of other people.  At some networking events, there are so many people there that you never will be able to meet and see everyone.  It may even be difficult to try and find people you know that you want to deepen your relationship with them.  When going to events such as these, make a plan of not only who you want to meet and see, but make arrangements so that those plans happen.   
  6. You never know who you are going to see and meet.  Being from Missouri and living in North Carolina, I get excited when I see people wearing Mizzou clothing.  I saw a guy wearing a Mizzou shirt and I went up to him and said “Go Tigers!”  Never saw or met him before.  But he had an immediate big smile on his face.  We talked for about 5 minutes.  I got to find out he was there with his entire family.  He and his wife are Mizzou grads.  His oldest son is there now, and his youngest son will be there next year.  Out in the real world, you never know who you will meet.  Are you always ready to talk about yourself in a professional manner, even if you are not in a professional setting?  Can you sell your goods or services (or even yourself) in a clear concise way that wants the listener to crave more?  By being able to do so, you will be able to get into a formal setting with them to grow your business.
  7. Even on the biggest stage of golf, there is still friendly competition.  Even though it was a practice day, I saw many of the golfers enjoying their time on the course and with whom they were playing with.  Competition does not need to be “ugly”.  Unless you work for a large multinational corporation, you business likely is not targeting the mass market.  You are likely focused on a niche of some sort.  Your true competitors are doing the same.  However, even in today’s economy, there are enough customers out there for everyone’s business.  Disparaging remarks of your competition only makes you look bad.  Promote yourself positively and show your value and customers will come to you.
  8. Have a back-up plan when the weather gets bad.  The only negative on the day was that it was called short due to rain and an impending bad thunderstorm.  When Augusta National announced play was suspended, then cancelled, there was a mass exodus to the checked purchases areas and to the gates.  As I was there with four others, we immediately made a plan and had the biggest guy get as fast as he could to the check purchases.  He was provided a poncho for the ensuing downpour.  The rest of us went to the car and moved it a little closer for him so that he could get to us a little quicker.  In business, it is never always sunshine and clear skies.  It rains and sometimes hard.  Do you have a plan for this.  Most large companies make yearly plans, but they also make plans for what to do if they do not hit their numbers and expectations.  Sometimes it’s reducing cost in some form.  Sometimes it’s developing new techniques to increase efficiency.  Based on your business it will be different.  But the fact of the plan being developed helps you know what do to if the skies are not sunny and clear.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

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About J. Nolfo
Well...there is a lot to know. #Cx, #Analytics, #SM, Specialty #AgChem, #StL sports, & more. FT @BASFAgProducts. @Mizzou Alum. Supporter of the #Rhino. Tweets my own. #SMMW17 attendee....Dad...Hiker...Scouter...and so much more.

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