WANT A SERVICE UNLEASHED EXPERIENCE? ARTHUR BLANK AND THE FALCONS KNOW THE WAY
One thing I think we can all agree on right off the bat is that Arthur Blank is one of the world’s smartest entrepreneurs.
If you haven’t been acquainted, Blank is the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, as well as the city’s recently formed soccer team Atlanta United. Blank made his riches as the co-founder of Home Depot, and today he mostly just oversees his foundation and his sports teams. You don’t get as far in life as Arthur Blank without knowing exactly what you’re doing and executing on the process, pattern and strategy you put in place to reach your goals.
Even knowing how smart Blank is, he generated some raised eyebrows across the country when the Falcons announced their concession priceslast summer for their new stadium. Among other low-price items, the menu featured $2 sodas and hot dogs and $3 pizzas. For comparison’s sake, the Dallas Cowboys are my hometown team. A hot dog runs you $7.50, and you’d actually pay as much for a bottle of water ($5) as you would for a cheeseburger in Atlanta.
So what was Blank and his team thinking? Higher prices means higher revenue, right? And if the rest of the league has set an expectation that this is just what food and drinks cost at games, wouldn’t the Falcons just be throwing potential revenue out of the window?
Now that we have the numbers, it’s more evident than ever that we should’ve been trusting Blank all along.
The Falcons charged 50% less than the league average in concessions in 2017, and yet the amount of concessions purchased by fans increased by 16% in just a few months. And according to a fan survey, Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium ranked No. 1 in terms of quality, value, speed of service and variety.
At FPG, this is what we would call service unleashed. We tailored our entire Service Unleashed program around giving your customer the best possible service by creating trust, efficiency and profitability around the customer service experience. One thing I know is that service is sales and sales is service. Everything you do on the customer service side drives sales, and vice versa. Because the Falcons focused on the customer experience as much as the price, both ended up working in their favor.
I love this quote by Blank on their strategy.
“I understand bringing kids to sporting events and saving up for tickets, and when you get inside you have to buy them food, and a hot dog that is $2 outside is suddenly $7 inside, and being frustrated by it,” Blank said. “You find ways to tell fans beyond words that you really care about their interests.”
I want you to focus on that last sentence. You find ways to tell fans beyond words that you really care about their interests. The same goes for clients and customers as well. It’s so important to communicate your service through your actions as well as your words.
I love this story from Chip Bell, an award-winning author and speaker, who partnered with us to create our Stevie Award-nominated Service Unleashed program. Bell was in Hurricane Irma’s path in 2017, and it knocked out the power in his area. There’s a bait shop near Bell’s home, and people flocked to it for supplies to get through the power outage. The only problem was the store’s power was also out, so the owner didn’t have a way to ring up his customers behind the counter. You know what he did? Knowing the need of his customers, he let them take whatever they needed and had them fill out IOU sheets promising to pay him back later.
After the power came back, that store owner got every scrap of money back, and he created undying loyalty in his customer base in the process. That’s what service unleashed is all about – creating profit while also creating loyal, addicted customers. It appears nobody knows that better than Arthur Blank.