Running a business of any size–be it a magazine or camp–is a bit like running a race. You–the owner or director–are like the team’s coach: you map out the strategy, motivate your players, and push, push, push the ball and projects endlessly uphill and anticipate the day you finally reach the top.
Except there really is no top. You just keep moving, inexorably upward, getting better, and better and better (hopefully).
On one hand, it’s a great feeling. You pass milestones. You notch victories. You overcome obstacles. But, if you’re like me, you sometimes forget your customers are behind you, unaware at best, ambivalent at worst about the new ideas, information, experiences, products, or services you have recently created and are now delivering.
Take our little business. I’m still surprised (and a bit frustrated) by the fact that all 10,000 readers don’t understand they automatically receive a free listing in our CampsNReviews.com search engine when they start/renew their free subscription to Camp Business.
As often happens, in my hurry to build the system, improve the system and then improve it again, I didn’t realize this simple message wasn’t mashing its way through the clutter that is life in the information age.
For whatever reason, not everybody grasped the concept or believed that the free subscription and free listing were really free.
All of that changed, in a big way, this past week. Suddenly, more of you started to figure it out–so much so that our servers spun to a stop under the weight of the demand and had to be replaced with the biggest, baddest system our IT staff could find.
This was both a very cool milestone in our personal race to improve our product. (“We crashed the servers!”) and very frustrating (“Yes sir, I know the website is down. It will be live again at noon tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.”)
Looking to my staff for an answer to the questions, “What changed?” I came to realize the answer was nothing. Or, more correctly, time was now on our side. Enough of you had taken advantage of the free listing and had taken the time to pass the information along to your fellow camp friends that in essence, our customers began to catch up to the idea.
This simple message–success via continuous development and patience–is the defacto, and unintentional, theme to this issue.
The result is simply awesome.
Dr. Chris Thurber contributes an intuitive piece on the power of “Continuous Professional Development” (page 36)–and the lingering effects on staff long after they’ve left the camping environment (i.e., dads using the techniques to coach their son’s first soccer team).
Scott Hall writes about “Liquid Gold” (page 26)–the story of how a small camp in northeastern Ohio pushed their personal rock inexorably uphill leading to a unique product that provides a viable revenue stream and marketing program which continue to grow camp enrollment.
Kyle Linback writes about the power of word-of-mouth (and all the things you can do to stimulate it) in “Repeat Retreats” (page 22) and, of course, our piece-de-resistance, this month’s feature, “Shipped Off To Camp” (page 29) by Joe Follansbee.
Of course, we offer lots of other goodies because, well, it’s the holiday season–a time for sharing and reflecting, which means taking the time to slow down and catch our breaths.
Rodney J. Auth
PS: If you’re a subscriber to Camp Business and have not yet created your free listing in CampsNReviews.com, please email email@example.com or call 866-444-4216 for your username and password. Setting up your listing takes less than five minutes.