Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's Hell To Plan...and Heaven To Have One!

If you're in the business of getting and keeping customers, which according to Peter Drucker is the essence of a business, it's useful to have a written plan for doing that. Unfortunately, many air charter operators don't have a written plan to get and keep customers. The most likely reason is that most air charter owners got their formal education in the military; or hold a degree in engineering or aviation. None of those three areas would prepare you to write a plan to get and keep customers.

In this post, I will begin teaching you a three-step process to write an effective plan to get and keep customers.

Step One: Get people to raise their hands!

The purpose of this part of the plan is to make a list of all the activities you or anyone on your payroll can do this year to get people to show an interest in you, your company, chartering a plane, or business aviation in general.

Note carefully that the goal is to get them to show an interest...to raise their hand and in effect say, "tell me more...I might be interested."As soon as anyone raises their hand, you have achieved the goal for this part of the plan.

Do not concern yourself now with what happens after they raise their hand. That will be covered in Step Two of your plan.

To write Step One, all you need is a white board or a flip chart. Make four columns. Label the columns: Activity, Frequency, Person, and Budget. Bring the list to your next staff meeting and ask everyone on the payroll, no matter their job title, to start filling in the chart. Ask them to update the chart, over the next week, as often as they have an idea. Put the chart out where everyone can access it.

Tell them that there's no requirement to fill in all four columns. If, for example, a mechanic has an idea for an Activity (such as giving a talk at a Rotary Club meeting) he can put that idea on the chart. If he wants to suggest something for the other three columns, that's fine. But what I really want you to do is to get everyone in your company involved in thinking of things someone can do to get people interested in your services.

After a week, you'll have quite a list of practical ideas. Then you need to sort through them and make some decisions about frequency, person responsible, and budget.

I would expect quite a few ideas to require no budget at all. Elbow grease, yes. An investment of time, for sure. Some extra effort, definitely. But you won't need to spend money. For other activities, you may not be able to start unless you spend some money.

Once you've made your decisions, give everyone on the payroll a copy of the plan. Before doing so, review the plan with each person who has been assigned a responsibility. Make sure both of you have exactly the same expectations about how much and what, by when.

In my next posting, I'll tell you what's involved in Step Two, which is getting from Hello to Sold. By the way, if you'd like to get a quick start on Step One, call me at 800.769.6082 and I'll email a list to you of 10 activities along with suggested frequencies, budgets, and the title of the person most likely to be responsible.

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