Some people think Santa runs a fly-by-night operation. We disagree; we think he is the best entrepreneur in the world.
We visited the North Pole to find out the secrets to his success. So here are five takeaways from Santa on running a successful business:
Keep a close eye on your patrons
If you’re one of the people that Santa serves, “he sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake.”
Now we don’t recommend watching your customers sleep unless you run a sleep clinic! But learning all about your customers and their habits will help you serve them better.
You can discover some of this information naturally. You just have to set up processes to capture the data.
For example, we know a car dealer who found a simple way to determine which radio stations to advertise on. He has his people record the station that is playing when they turn the car on to pull it into the service bay.
Listen to your clientele
The first tip was about gathering information organically. It’s unlikely that you’ll learn all you need to know. So you need to survey your customers. Ask them questions.
The most important question you can ask is: What do you want? Santa pays close attention to this answer. He knows exactly what his customers want because they tell him. He doesn’t rely on guesswork.
It’s important to note that he doesn’t do this from the North Pole. He gets out in the field, where his customers are, to do this research.
We actually witnessed customers sitting on his lap when they answer this question. Of course, we don’t recommend that. However, you do want your customers to feel so comfortable with you that they’re willing to speak freely.
Segment your customers
As Santa gathers information about his customers, he puts them into groups. For example, he said that, if you’re one of the people he serves, he finds out “if you’re naughty or nice.”
The products he offers these two different types of customers vary drastically. That’s the real key – by segmenting your customers, you may find differences in their preferences.
You can be more relevant with your promotional efforts. You also may discover new opportunities for add-on sales.
Work from a list
Santa’s operation serves an amazing number of people. Yet he and his elves have a remarkable record for accuracy in filling their orders.
Santa’s team understands how important this is. You can have the best marketing in the world. But if you don’t deliver on your promises, your customers will try you once and leave.
Research shows it costs at least five times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing one. It’s much more profitable to do more business with repeat customers – by getting them to buy more each time and/or buy more often – than to constantly have to chase new ones.
So what’s Santa’s secret? He said it was simple: “make a list and check it twice.” Set up checklists for your business so you make sure you deliver a consistent level of quality.
Remember – it’s better to deliver a consistently mediocre experience than to be great sometimes and horrible at others. Start from a baseline and strive to improve.
Bring your team together
One of the many stories about Santa’s operation involves one young member of his team who “had a very shiny nose.” His cohorts made fun of him mercilessly – they would “laugh and call him names.”
This caught Santa’s attention. He found a special project perfectly suited to this young one’s unique gift. After that, all the associates in his department “loved him.”
This is a great lesson. Everyone has a special talent. Sometimes it’s masked by something quirky. Most people only see the quirk. Great leaders look deeper to find the gift.
What lessons has Santa taught you about running a business?
George Krueger and Mary-Lynn Foster are the co-founders of BIGG Success, your place for entreprenurturing(TM). They also co-host "BIGG Success in a Minute," a syndicated radio show now playing on stations around the United States.