(By John Shomby) A few weeks back, United Airlines announced a shift in their boarding policy to streamline their passenger traveling experience. Basic economy ticketholders will now board in the following order – window, middle, and finally, aisle seats. By taking some of the occasional chaos of the seating process (occasional is used very loosely here), this simple policy is expected to reduce boarding times up to two minutes per flight.
That may not seem like much time, but a 737 burns $75 in fuel every minute. Multiply that by 4,500 daily flights and the potential savings add up to $675,000 per day. Include the $900,000 operational cost savings and you’ve got a potential total savings of $1,575,000 PER DAY!!! All this for a simple adjustment that, if you’ve flown at any point over the past year, obviously makes common sense. This change did not take months of research. It was a logical adjustment, and it was quickly implemented. Sometimes it’s just something simple.
In the radio business, we do spend a reasonable amount of time (and occasionally money) on research to make sure our stations are headed in the proper direction. We have polled listeners about music, personalities, station branding, etc. Sometimes, though, it’s one simple “tweak” or action that provides the much-needed boost.
Instead of scouring the country for an air talent to fill a key opening at your station, why not look inside your building? Your part-time promotion crew, board operators, your sales department, wherever. If I looked around your station, I would find aspiring talent in all those areas. I won’t drop names, but in my first Dallas stint, two board operators wanted to be on-air, so we trained them and they were on within weeks. One turned out to be a highly-rated talk show host, and the other wound up overseeing programming for a network of stations.
Who at your station, right now, has that potential to grow into something special? I’ll bet there is someone right there now who is willing to do whatever it takes, knows the market better than most and, most of all, is very coachable. Maybe the next network radio star. If the staff knows you are open to someone new, they will be at your door more than you’ll be at theirs. Sometimes it’s just the simple things.
When do you do some research and when is it just something simple? The difference starts and ends in your heart – the home of your instinct. If you feel it there, no research will ever circumvent that. I’m sure the strategists at United Airlines did not spend a huge amount of meeting time coming up with their simple solution. They felt it and they moved ahead with positive results in sight. They didn’t overthink.
None of what you do will guarantee ratings results, but the lesson here is trusting your gut when it’s needed. Your station could be flying high. Sometimes it’s just the simple things.
Based in Nashville, TN, John Shomby is the owner and CEO of Country’s Radio Coach. He is focused on coaching and mentoring artists, radio programmers, and on-air talent to help them grow and develop inside the radio station and the industry. Reach John at [email protected] and 757-323-1460. Read John’s Radio Ink archives here.