Checkout the enclosed from CNNMoney.com on how Arizona Diamondback executives are battling the slump. With spring training just beginning here in sunny Arizona, it's worth noting that this whole industry is now coming face-to-face with the issues of managing their business through the downturn. Most were tuning out when this all began in earnest in September and now they're tuning back in to a reality of shrinking sponsorships, losing season ticket buyers and uncertain outlooks for their main source of revenue ... TV.
A bring light in all of this is the preparation that Diamondback's CEO Derek Hall has made to ensure that his team is doing the right things to maintain momentum going into the new season. His focus (in fact the focus of the team's entire front office) is remarkably tuned in. Some of the highlights for those of who you who want the cliff notes from the article:
- Service-first -- one of the hallmarks of Tuned In executives is that they prioritize customer service at the top of their lists. Hall and team are notorious for quick, personal responses to requests from customers and going out of their way to interact in the community. They solve the problems their customers need solving and don't get stuck in their own bureaucracy.
- Put your best talent on the front lines -- sounds simple but most of us keep it in the back office. The Diamondbacks put their best executives focused on player recruitment, player development, and customer service vs. business management.
- Ensure a great experience -- Hall hired a firm to ensure that every fan walking into the ballpark could experience the old time feel of going to a game, complete with unobstructed field views, the smell of fresh grass and the sounds of hitting and catching. They eliminated the carnival like atmosphere that dominates most modern stadiums.
- Work early and often on long-term loyalty of stakeholders -- the Diamondbacks had an 83% renewal rate on season ticket sales (vs. 60% for some of their competitors) because they didn't wait until seasons-end to start the process. TV rights have been secured for the next 10 years.
- Know your market and adapt -- the team knows that Phoenix actually has the lowest per-capita income, $35,010 of any MLB city so they offered lots of incentives to entice lower and middle income families ... from $5 tickets to free tickets at local schools to special kids and family pricing on food and beverages.
Being a Phoenix-native, I can speak to the quality of the experience and the high regard locals have for the organization. It's a sense of pride you don't see everywhere. Best of all, the net of all of this is a well-aligned organization that is expecting a slight uptick in revenue in 2009 vs. 2008 while fielding a competitive team that can make a run at the World Series without a $200m payroll.
The Diamondbacks and Hall have done a great job of focusing on what matters most. By tuning in, they've got a big leg up on their competitors.