In the Trenches: Learning in the Aftermath

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on January 5, 2011
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The last two weeks of December were an absolute blur for our business. With so many people stranded due to the winter storms on the east coast and in Europe, we worked nonstop to get people back to where they needed to be. In the end, we did a lot of good, but now that things are back to normal, it’s time to review what happened. There’s no time like during the aftermath of a big event to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

One thing that is clear is that there are too many functions in the company that rely on me. Now this isn’t a surprise: I’m the only full time employee and everyone else works on commission, but it’s also not sustainable. I was up in the middle of the night four straight days at one point because I end up being the intake point for all new clients. It was exhausting, and it’s really not healthy. More importantly, if I get hit by a bus, then it will be hard for anyone else to step in and right the ship.

The solution to that is obvious: Get someone else to do the work. Of course, that means more out-of-pocket expense and that’s not ideal at this point, but it’s probably necessary. So far, it seems the best plan is to look for someone to work part-time to help free up my time to work on developing new business as well as provide a needed duplication of knowledge when I’m unavailable.

The other area that needs some attention is our pricing. We’ve never had so many urgent calls for help before, and this really put our last-minute pricing model to the test. The result? We’re probably not charging enough. We were working ourselves to the bone finding better flight options to get our clients where they needed to go. It seems clear after this experience that we’ve undervalued the service we provide in a pinch. For the amount of time we have to put into an urgent request, we need to be charging more. So that’s now under review.

These weren’t the only things worth pondering, but they were the two that stood out. But best of all I’ve learned that there’s nothing like reviewing everything in the wake of a major event to really figure out what works and what doesn’t.

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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