Friday, January 21, 2011

A Lesson on the Beach ...

By Frank Absher

A small, little-known public beach on a tiny Caribbean island provided the setting for a lesson that should be force fed to all radio managers and owners.

As we drove slowly over the bumpy road leading to the beach I had to wonder what we’d find when we got there. Instead of turning left onto the paved road that would take us to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, we were bouncing toward an unfamiliar destination. All we knew was that there would be fewer people there than at the popular beach.

We pulled into the half-filled parking area about mid morning, thus beating the normal beach-going crowd that would appear a couple hours later. Once we got to the sand we were greeted by an employee of the lone concessionaire. We paid him for the beach chairs and umbrellas, a transaction that also gave us access to toilets, and settled in.

This lone concessionaire had a good thing going. It was a virtual monopoly. Since he owned the property where his shack had been built, he was the only source of chairs, umbrellas, food and drink. That meant he could set the prices as high as he wished. But we noted that his prices for the chairs and umbrellas were lower than we’d paid on the popular beach.

This was a wonderful, clean place – no smokers, well-behaved children, no boom boxes. In short, it was the kind of experience that could command a higher price. We braced ourselves for what we’d find when we bought lunch.

We entered the beach shack and were greeted by a delightful man who spoke several languages. He escorted us to one of the 10 picnic tables and brought menus. The wine list was outstanding. The menu carried options for excellent meals including fresh fish from the ocean, and the prices were extremely reasonable.

Our little group sat at the table for about two hours, eating, drinking, laughing and spending. It was a supremely pleasant experience.

Instead of milking his customers for every penny he could squeeze out of them; Instead of cutting costs to the bone and providing minimal service; Instead of serving cheap, quick food, this owner and his family went out of their way to provide a high-quality experience for every customer who came to his little beach, and there was no price gouging.

When was the last time you found a radio station that took this approach? Wake me when you finally come up with an answer.

This guy could have been making more money, but by providing us with all this at a reasonable price, he succeeded in keeping us in the shack longer and motivating us to spent more money that way. And we went back to that beach again as soon as we could, so he’d done well enough to develop repeat customers.

This concept is so simple, yet so foreign in radio today.

Discuss on the STL Media Message Board. (Registration Required)