Business Strategy Tips from Southwest
I recently flew to New York for a speaking tour where I met with some great business-minded people in Manhattan, Woodmere and Lakewood. Flying with Southwest Airlines for the first time was a really novel experience; it is not often that you find a company shaking up an old and traditional industry in the way that Southwest did and continues to do on a daily basis.
Southwest really does things differently – in fact, “different” is their brand. Their seating is not done like anyone else’s, their cabin staff are hilarious, cracking jokes that make you laugh out loud and their regular seats have more leg room than the “pay extra” seats on Delta, United and many other American carriers.
However, there is one thing they do that is relevant to every business owner.
One of the biggest losses to an airline is flight delays. When a passenger is not at the gate on time, the airline has a choice to wait for said passenger to show up and delay the flight or to remove their luggage from the hold, which would also cause a delay. Both options cost the airline a lot of money.
Southwest found a brilliant solution to this problem:
Get all passengers to the gate on time.
How, you ask?
Years ago, Southwest got rid of assigned seating. Rather than a seat number, you get a place in line. All passengers are required to wait in their allocated place, board the plane in that order then pick any seat, first come, first served. So there is no pushing, much less complaining and everyone is where they are meant to be at the right time to ensure that they get a decent seat.
With this simple change, there are no arguments over seatmates, no families re-arranging the whole airplane to sit together and most importantly no delay waiting for people who didn’t show up.
So how does this apply to your business?
As business owners, we all want something from our clients, whether it’s prompt payment or to purchase certain quantities, at certain times or in certain ways. Instead of asking them for it and then having to chase them up on it, create a system which has inherent incentives that make your clients and customers do what you want because it is good for them. It will change your business and your life.