Today’s post originally appeared on LinkedIn and was authored by Brian R. Bondy President / Owner at Huron Scuba, Snorkel and Adventure Travel Inc. We hope you enjoy it.
Owning a company with “Adventure Travel” as part of the name has generated a lot of questions about my obvious adrenaline addiction and the “crazy” things I’ve done to feed it. Skydiving — check; driven a NASCAR at full throttle — check; dove barefoot (and almost belly flopped) off a waterfall in Fiji — check, proposed marriage on national television (successfully!) — check, dove with great white sharks — check. After all my adventures, the two most common questions I’m asked are “How deep have you been diving?” and more importantly:
“What’s the scariest monster you’ve ever had to deal with?”
I can answer that one easily — amazon.com.
Anyone who owns a retail-facing business in our current economy is battling online retailers every single day whether they realize it or not. I’ve seen three retail ventures within sight of my store go out of business in the past three years. Each of them ended up losing their own battles with the menacing amazon.com-like monsters in their marketplaces.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Amazon is the devil (most days), and I’ve heard they have a wonderful customer service department. But they can’t offer what my retail business can — a personal touch and a real relationship with someone who will be there, in the flesh, each time you stop in or call.
Everyone who has been part of a corporate team-building exercise has probably been confronted with the question of the day — “How do you eat an elephant?” After numerous attempts at awkward humor from the self-appointed office comedian and a few decent guesses from the eager beavers, the simplest answer finally prevails: “one bite at a time.”
My first real job was selling snacks in a bingo palace, which attracted plenty of interesting personalities, arriving in their lucky shirts, with their lucky trinkets to sit in their lucky spots. As you would expect, they always ordered the same snacks (probably lucky snacks), which is where I entered the game. I worked as hard as any teenager could and from that hard work came my first genuine sales management epiphany — get to know someone, call them by name, learn what they want, build a relationship and guess what? – they tip. This simple realization at the age of 14 led me to the answer of a question that the likes of Mark Cuban, the late Steve Jobs, The Donald, renowned rodent scientists Pinky and the Brain and so many others have asked themselves as they built their empires:
“How do I achieve world domination?”
The simplest answer, again, prevails: “one person at a time.”
Fast forward with me 27 years, three businesses, four different careers and countless gray hairs into the current e-commerce, digital, multimedia, cyber-social, streamlined, automated, lean, optimized, bio-friendly, no-Eco-footprint-allowed, no-personal-contact-required age of today’s business world and once again ask yourself “How do I achieve business world domination?” Even in today’s marketplace, the simplest answer still prevails: “one person at a time.”
I’m the owner, head janitor and everything in between for a brick-and-mortar scuba-diving facility and adventure-travel provider in Michigan. Along with the help of my outstanding team, we’ve increased our student counts four out of the past five years. With over 300 percent growth in some areas this year alone, we are continuing to dive deeper into our own quest for world domination.
If you haven’t stopped to ask yourself the obvious questions yet, let me rewind and affirm — yes, there is scuba diving in Michigan, yes, we’re in a land-locked state with no ocean access, and most notably:
YES! we’re kicking asses and taking names.
Stay tuned for Episode II… Until then, identify your own marketplace monsters, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and have a great rest of your week.