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Service Drives Demand

Here's The Thing

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OOH …Here’s One Thing 

by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company



Service Drives Demand

“Service drives demand”. Man I wish I had coined that slogan, but I read it in a headline this weekend as I scanned my pocket app curated news-feed.  (Don’t get me started on how the news business has changed. I will end up putting you to sleep.)  The article is about how after 100 years of trying, our public transit system still fails us. Its an interesting read. Here is the link as well as a few quotes from the article:  Why did America give up on mass transit? Don’t blame cars.

“U.S. have continually cut basic local service in a vain effort to improve their finances. But they only succeeded in driving riders and revenue away. When the transit service that cities provide is not attractive, the demand from passengers that might “justify” its improvement will never materialize.” Can anyone spell vicious circle?

“In the popular history of postwar urban development, blame for the decline of the streetcars and interurbans is often placed at the feet of National City Lines, the company owned by General Motors, Firestone, and others in the auto industry that bought out many local streetcar companies to convert their operations to rubber-tired, GM-made buses. But the main issue was not the technology change—it was the decline in transit service, which happened everywhere, whether or not NCL bought the local company.” Talk about the fox in the hen house!

“Ailing private transit companies of the 1950’s were unwilling and unable to provide service in the new suburbs, ensuring that only those who were able to afford cars could move there. This was partly a deliberate strategy: It sought to keep transit self-sustaining by avoiding providing service in areas where costs would be higher—very different from the approach the government took with superhighways, which created demand as they were built.”  Classic example of a business closing its eyes to what the customer wants and instead focusing on survival.

So “here’s the thing” as Alec Balwin says. I am not smart enough nor bombastic enough to give you deep discourse on the sad state of our transportation systems. Thank God for us that cars are still a thing. I want to “borrow” Service drives demand because it is supremely relevant to what we do in the outdoor business.

Routinely when I pitch newby investors on the industry, they say, “How hard could it be? You sell a location to a customer who wants to advertise at that location, you drop the jpeg into the digital schedule (or you hang a piece of vinyl) and you bill the customer. As long as you collect…end of story right?”

My guess is the seasoned veterans reading this just spit their coffee out.  Mr. Outdoor sales executive, “I have no idea what I want my creative to be. Can you help?” “Unless you can give me specific data on how many people go to the CVS after they drive by that location, I am not going to buy it.” “Why am I buying an outbound when my retail location is located inside the inbound?” “Can you send me the POP. I never got it.” Or a real whopper I heard for the first time the other day: “I am ready to make a 100 bulletin buy. But I really need those 2 on Interstate 895″…”ehem…sorry
Mr. advertiser but we are not going to be able to do business because those two are already booked for August.”

I know all of you men and women on the front line could fill pages of these anecdotes of clients and agencies asking for outrageous things. I hope you will write back and give me your best. The message, however, is the customer is always right, even when they’re not. Its our job to decipher what their real goals and aspirations are and to tailor it in a way that makes them happy and still does the best job possible. How about, “Mr. Advertiser I can deliver 100% of what you want, although we will have to move you off those 2 units in August because I have already promised them to another client…and I never break my promises…but what I can do is contract with my competitor down the street to deliver that audience for you in August…and I will do it at no cost to you.”

And here’s the real message. How about viewing those back-flips you need to perform on a Friday afternoon in summer for the most demanding client ever, not as another friggin’ migraine, but rather as an investment in the future.  As an opportunity to shine.  Service drives demand.

Johnsen, Fretty & Co
Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC




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