Field of Dreams

Day 3

Quote of the Day:
“Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it.”
-Terence Mann, Field of Dreams (1989)

While pumping gas this morning in the town I currently live, I couldn’t help but hear the phone conversation my gas pump neighbor was having. Defeated and confused, my gas pump neighbor complained, “two visits last week…we’ve got nearly 15 nice cars out there…over 35,000 cars drive by our lot every week…I just don’t understand.”

(For context, this car lot has been in business for less than a year.)

I immediately questioned myself in response to overhearing his problem — why did I choose to buy my car from the place I did?

That’s easy. Because they have a trusted name, a full spectrum of services beyond car sales, and I personally know how great the owners are as people.

Anyone can start a car lot. As a consumer, I don’t stop at the first place I see to get coffee or to get my haircut. I do business with people I trust, who make me feel comfortable, and who are generally decent human beings.

As I drove away from the gas station this morning, I began to think about how this may apply to my endeavors. Instead of “building it and hoping people show up”, like in the movie Field of Dreams, there has to be an in-depth analysis of WHY we’re doing “it” and for WHO. We have to dig deep, really think about what we’re trying to accomplish, and then either make it happen or fail trying.

Here are some questions and factors I would consider if I were in the same business position as my gas pump neighbor this morning:

  • Why do I do what I do?
  • What do I really do for my customers?
  • What does this company strongly believe in?
  • What does this company promise to its customers?
  • What are our top brand emotions? How do we make customers feel?
  • What is our defining product or service?

Why would someone choose to drive 30 minutes or more to buy a used car when I have a used car lot 2 minutes from their house?

Just like a college degree doesn’t equal a job, starting a business doesn’t equal a customer base. There seems to be a process to these things, a theme, and it looks like work…and people seem to not like work.

But what do I know, I’m just a trainer at a gas pump. I could be in his position someday and I truly hope he turns it around.
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