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Preventing Subjectivity From Destroying Your Dropzone (Visit this link)

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Over the holidays, my girlfriend and I drove from Charlotte, North Carolina to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit her family. What we encountered on our road trip was something that every traveler has to contend with - dirty bathrooms. With full bladders, we chose an interstate exit which offered a choice of four different fuel stations. We picked the one that looked the most modern in hopes of discovering that rare, road-trip find: the gas station with a clean bathroom.

Walking into the station, we noticed that the owner had a sign crudely taped to the door that said restrooms were not for public use. Only "paying" customers could have access to the bathrooms.

Accepting this 'must-buy-something-in-the-store' condition, we walked in, used the filthy facilities (the women's room neither had toilet paper nor soap), purchased a Starbucks Frappuccino, a very burnt tasting coffee and vowed to never return again.

I wish this gas station would hire me for a marketing consultation. I would transform this business to a level of success, once believed to be unimaginable. In fact, my client would change the way the competition does business just to remain competitive.

My input would result in lines queuing off the exit ramp as if there was a gas shortage.

How would I do this? I would satisfy the pain point of travelers by providing a clean bathroom. Not just a clean bathroom, but AMAZINGLY clean bathrooms that are designed for high volume and easy maintenance. I would advertise these amazingly clean bathrooms to the masses, exclaiming to every traveler on the interstate of how clean they are.

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So what does this have to do with the skydiving industry?


Few industries have as much bathroom traffic as the skydiving industry. Looking for your student on the 20 minute call?

They're in the bathroom! I've often said that you can tell how a business feels about its customers by looking at the bathroom.

This is a point that must not be ignored, but there is a bigger message here.

This article is less about bathrooms and more about addressing the obvious points that DZO's miss because of subjectivity. The time investment that a DZO puts in during an average summer weekend day is usually 12-14 hours. It's easy to lose sight of the obvious and become blind to what your customers are actually experiencing.

What are the pain points for your customers?


Cleanliness of Bathrooms?

Cleanliness of the Hangar?

Cleanliness of the Packing Mat?

Hospitality of the Manifest Staff?

Dirty jumpsuits?

What are the pain points of your staff?

Maintaining equipment?

Clean goggles for students?

Frap hats in good condition?

Laundered jumpsuits?

9 Steps to Exceed the Expectations of Customers

1. Identify. Identify every customer point of interaction with the business.

2. Evaluate. Answer the question, "Are we providing 5 star service at each point of interaction?" If you’re not, you need to be.

3. Gather Feedback. Poll your customers. If possible, e-mail your customer database requesting they take a brief survey about your company. Each question in the survey should request an evaluation at each point of interaction.

4. Listen. Listen to what your customers are saying. Don't blow the feedback off as trivial. This feedback is critical to a business' survival. Make appropriate changes based on the feedback.

5. Set Goals. In order to exceed the expectations of your customers, a measurable goal must be set for everyone in the company to work towards and achieve.

6. Measure. Create a statistic that charts progress based on the new goals.

7. Recognize - Recognize pain points employees endure when trying to deliver excellent service. Make it as easy as possible for your staff to amaze the customer. Also, identify team members who are unable to deliver the level of service management requires. Try to coach employees wherever possible, but be ready to remove team members who do not buy-in.

8. Establish Culture - Delivering amazing service does not happen by simply announcing "Let's give better service!"

Employees need to be happy in order to deliver great service consistently. Establish core values with employee input and hold the company to that standard from the CEO down.

9. Communicate. Communicate and over-communicate. Give as much feedback to employees as possible. People wish to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and will take more pride in their work if they know their contribution makes a difference. Praise publicly and always punish privately.

Powerful marketing focuses on how a customer feels about a company. Exceed the expectations of your customers to gain the advantage in your marketplace.

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The details matter. Above, the before and after pics of the bathroom facility at Triangle Skydiving Center. When customers are paying a premium price to use your services, a premium experience should be given. The industry must remember that we are operating million dollar + operations. Make it a million dollar experience from start to finish at every point of contact.

About James La Barrie:

James La Barrie is passionate about marketing and the skydiving industry. As a former drop zone manager for nine years, La Barrie is the antithesis of most marketing professionals. He doesn't believe that great marketing starts with throwing money at an advertising campaign, but rather implements techniques in word of mouth (womm), social media, company culture and world class branding to create a connection with guests that drive the bottom line. La Barrie is the founder of DropZone.Marketing - a marketing agency for the skydiving industry.

By James La Barrie on 2014-01-09 | Last Modified on 2017-02-02

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.  | Votes: 16 | Comments: 13 | Views: 9006


Kahuna  2014-01-09

Absolutely! I agree with this article on many levels.
Hope the DZO's see this.

alphamedak  2014-01-09

This is so true. When I drive across Texas I literal plan my route based on where there is a Buck-ees gas station. The do exactly what you say, they have the cleanest bathrooms I've ever seen of any business and they advertise that fact. I will always stop at Buck-ees when I see one. I go for the bathrooms and I stay for the service and the quality.

I agree with everything else you said too. These steps would make a bad DZ good and a good DZ great.

dpreguy  2014-01-09

Add to that: Toothbrushes and mouthwash for the tandem instructors. Handy to them to use a lot

hookitt  2014-01-09

Please come and remodel our outhouses. We've no running water so it would be AMAZING if you'd take care of that.


AspectAir  2014-01-09
5 out of 5 stars

Great article.

Its because or review websites you may even have to wipe someones ass, or they would only give you 4 stars.

Clean environment all around and friendly/smart/good looking staff is all you need.

AspectAir  2014-01-09
5 out of 5 stars

Also, if you know every bathroom close by is disgusting just try pissing or shitting outside if you have to.
Usually pretty clean off rarely used exits during long trips.
Good time to let the dogs out, stretch your legs, or just relax for a little bit and enjoy some local beauty in peace and quiet.
Much better than staring at another truckstop.

Wait until you hit a bigger city then stop into a nice grocery store which usually has clean bathrooms and you can also get food or drinks cheaper.

Never deal with terrible places again.

scl964  2014-01-09

Well my dz only has a porta potty

AspectAir  2014-01-09
5 out of 5 stars

If the portable bathrooms are well maintained and clean its great.

You guys obviously missed he point.

Wouldnt you rather use a portable shitter that has toilet paper than a dirty bathroom with none.

Its about having a presentable environment no matter what it may be.

Amyr  2014-01-09
5 out of 5 stars

Your quote "I've often said that you can tell how a business feels about its customers by looking at the bathroom." Was right on target. It is the one thing you offer back to your customers without profit, but out of the thought I want a nice place to use the bathroom, so I care that you have a clean place to go as well.

hookitt  2014-01-10

Lighten up Aspect ;)

ctrph8  2014-01-10

This article is right on so many levels. It's all about being professional in every aspect of the company. DZs frequently start out as a ragtag operation and then keep that look/mindset for years and decades. It is really refreshing to walk in to a DZ, even a small one and see that the little details are looked after.

I grinned at the toothbrushes and mouthwash for the tandem masters comment. Most TMs are pretty professional but there are always a few that look like they slept under a bridge. Even though they are REALLY good at what they do, it detracts from the DZ experience.

It should be the norm that there are clean facilities, properly maintained equipment, and staff that is professional from top to bottom. I would also throw in that the DZOs should set the example. Unprofessional behavior from the owners sets the example that unprofessional behavior is sometimes acceptable.

islander  2014-01-12

Thanks for such post. I am totally agree-any hospitality related business starts from toilet (no matter how aukward does this sound).

maxmadmax  2014-01-24

They have done it very well indeed.

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