I think I will forever be a student. Early in my reading career, I read a few ‘how to’ books and decided, after reading several, that the authors knew little about my business interests and probably started writing books because it was easier than running a business. However, research books provided much of the information I was seeking. One of my favorite authors is Jim Collins. Sometimes, in reading an entire book, I come up with one or two ideas that resonate with me.
One such experience occurred while reading a book by Michael Hammer about preparing to do business in the 21st century. From his book, I gleaned two concepts that have been foundational philosophies for Doc Warner’s. They were: 1) Be easy to do business with and 2) Give people more than they expect.
In our business, we depend on people to sign up to go fishing many months before the season begins. To determine how interested people are, we require a deposit before holding their reservation. In our early years we were very relaxed about this policy and then would have people holding reservations who had more interest than money. With no deposit down, they would cancel when it was too late for us to fill the spaces with other guests. Now, we are more strict about requiring the deposit.
Businesses usually keep deposits of those who cancel after a certain date. This makes guests hesitate to make long-term plans in the midst of uncertainty. We are different. We decided early in our business operation that if people trusted us enough to give us their money months before the actual trip we would trust them. Our policy has always been: If you must cancel, we will give your money back—all of it. One of the biggest surprises I’ve experienced regarding this policy is that almost no one cancels; and those who do often just move their deposit to the next season. We have never met a person who was happy about losing a deposit. Interestingly, the most common reason for a potential guest to cancel? Their daughter is getting married. You’d think a young woman would be more considerate than that!