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  • Brett Zalaski

The Stoplight Service Strategy


A reader wrote in asking: I’m a service rep. One of my biggest challenges is my time. I spend so much time talking to season ticket holders and in the CRM. I have zero time for everything else I’m told I’m responsible for. What can I do?


Great question. Let me tell you a story…


In 2008 we were setting up our ticket renewal campaign at the Boston Blazers. We had two very unique problems. First, as it was our expansion season, literally every one of our season ticket holders was a first-year season ticket holder. Yikes. Second, our cheapest seating section had half of our season ticket holders in it…and we were about to allow only 25% of them to stay at that price point. This could have been an absolute blood bath. We renewed at 82%. It’s still one of the team results I’m most proud of in sports business.


What did we incentivize them with? Nothing. What crazy benefits did we put in the deal? None. Did we give a price freeze? Nope. What incredible technology did we utilize? Not a one. In retrospect, I believe it was our strategy that got the job done. And what’s cool about this strategy for my readers is that it doesn’t have to be done by your team…you can do it all by yourself. And it can work on seasons, partials, and groups. And, showing just how smart I truly am, I haven’t replicated it since.


So what did we do? As we prepared to launch renewals, every one of our season ticket holders was printed out and was put in front of our reps. The reps job was to go through each one and highlight their names in green, yellow, or red. Green meant they knew that person by sight. Yellow meant that that person would consistently respond to rep communication. Red meant that there was no communication.


We had 2 games left, and I challenged my reps. Every yellow was hunted at game 1. Every red was hunted for game 2. We also got our players into the office, and had them call all of our reds…we needed to try for them to become yellows. We challenged the reps to spend almost none of their time on greens. And it all worked. By the time we started renewals, we had about 80% of them at greens and yellows…and, even with the difficult communication of the cheap seat price raise, we saw that out.


Reps can get really caught up with the people who want to talk with them (greens). Reps can get caught up with the day-to-day administrative side of service. The most important daily goal a rep can have is to look at their business like a business and focus on impacting the people who need impacting (yellows and reds).


This isn't flashy. This isn't sexy. It works. People don't want to disappoint people they know and like. The more people have a real relationship with you, the harder it will be to say no to you.