Is your business needed or is it loved?

We have all had a service experience that leaves more to be desired, whether at a restaurant, local car dealership or especially these days, on an airline. Is a quality, memorable service experience becoming a thing of the past?

Back when I worked at The Washington Post, a wise business consultant asked a philosophical, but helpful business question: “Is your business needed or is it loved?”

Need vs. love

We all do business with companies we need. For example, utility companies provide us with services we can’t imagine living without — certainly, a provider that is needed. But what about those businesses where we spend our discretionary income? We have more choices about where we dine, go on vacation or entertain our families. More often, those choices are tied to businesses that are loved.

In recent years, metrics-based tools have helped businesses understand their favorability in these areas. The Net Promoter Score and other tools have helped weigh customers as promoters or detractors of a firm’s services. What appears to be happening, however, is a price shift in loved businesses, those with a high-quality product and superior service, that has consumers paying a premium for these loved services and products.

That leads to an interesting question: How many businesses deliver a high-quality, memorable experience, without charging a premium, while providing a valued-based product or experience? It is rare. The expression, “you get what you pay for,” is never more true.

Improving the experience

Here in Akron, we have tried to disrupt that model, asking ourselves, “What if we could deliver something special that’s inexpensive?”

All 71 RubberDucks home games strive to offer a memorable experience from the moment fans arrive. We have such a limited window of time in our lives when we can be with the people we love, in an environment that allows us to let go of the stress in our lives.

We’ve chosen to focus our expenses in the right areas to give people experiences they’ll love. For every $1 we’ve spent on our facility, we’ve done so with a fan first mission. All the while thinking, “How can we make the experience better?”

Award-winning effort

So far, the results — a 27.7 percent growth in two seasons at the box office, with record increases in each season — have been promising. Our peers have noticed what we’re doing too, as the Akron RubberDucks were the Eastern League’s nominee for the Larry MacPhail Award, which goes to the team with the most outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts.

In 160 Minor League Baseball markets just like Akron, fans are finding that you can have a wonderful experience that’s memorable without breaking the bank. Can other businesses disrupt their model to create that environment? There’s no better place to start than with America’s pastime.