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Discover my HVACR lessons from an Alligator Farm

Originally published
Originally published: 11/1/2019

In Palmdale, Fla., on Highway 27, there is a tourist attraction called Gatorama. After visiting with my family, I realized they provide a number of great lessons to help contractors enhance the service experience. It may seem like a stretch that a gator farm could change your business for the better, but to save you the trip to Florida and the farm, I’ll explain.

When you arrive at Gatorama, you enter through a retail store and get your first views of the lagoons filled with alligators of all shapes and sizes. It’s only $20 for adult admission ($10 for children), but they offer you other opportunities to enhance the Gatorama experience.

For example, children can wade in a small pool to learn how to catch a baby gator for an additional $10, or they can participate in a python encounter or meet an albino gator for another $10.

Throughout the day, a variety of staff members host informational gator shows and tell you stories and history about the goliath.

At the conclusion of the show, you can further enhance your experience by paying an additional $40 to participate in the face-to-face challenge, where a team member teaches an adult how to interact with a gator, with only a stick between you and the reptile.

You can feed the large gator whole chickens and really get up close and personal. This is an experience only for the real daredevils, and Will Purdue, the chicken baron from Arkansas, would be proud!

Maybe you prefer seeing the gators from above? As you walk over a wooden dock hovering over the gator-filled waters, a Gatorama team member will ask, “Would you like to feed the gators?”

Of course, the next logical question is, “How much is it?”

To which they respond, “For only $20, the gators will leap up to take the gator bait from your hands. They’ll fight each other for it.”

And if you say no, there are still signs around the park reminding you of the opportunity to purchase the food.

Well, who doesn’t like a gator fight? “I’ll take two bags of gator bait!” After the incredible display as I fed the gators, other visitors who initially declined the purchase were suddenly pulling out their wallets. It was a memorable and enjoyable experience and I left the park telling family and friends, “I just fed a ton of gators!”

Throughout the day, snacks and soft drinks, souvenirs and memorabilia were available to my family. It’s hot in sunny Florida, so of course virtually everyone in the park needed refreshments. By the time you’ve fed the gators, fed yourself and left the park, there was an upsell on the average ticket of nearly 150 percent of the entrance fee, but never once did I feel I was being sold things. That’s impressive.

Gator Bait

Now here’s the question: does your company offer such products or services that clients buy happily to enhance their experience and comfort, while also increasing your company’s profitability?

If not, perhaps it’s time to create your own version of gator bait. There are three easy take-aways for any savvy contractor who visits the gator farm.

Do you have the staff trained properly to ask the right questions? Staff should get to know your customers enough to know what matters most to their comfort. They can easily find opportunities to sell additional products, without making the customer feel they’re being upsold by a sleezy salesperson.

Gatorama strategically places a staff member to ask if you’d like to feed the gators as you walk over the gator-infested pools, that’s a value-add to the customer experience.

Those signs posted all over the park advertising the gator bait and other experiences available are a reminder that documentation of your offerings can help with the sale. Could you have a flyer or brochure serve as your gator bait sign?

Good marketing materials make your customers feel that you’ve done this before and you’re a professional at providing the service and the add-ons.

It’s important to note that the service experience was actually enhanced by the gator bait. Make sure that your offerings are actually important to your clients. Never make them feel like they’re just being sold unnecessary “stuff.”

Make sure your team is trained to provide the best experience when on a service call. Ultimately, that will keep your customers coming back and they’ll tell their family and friends, just like I told mine about the gator farm.

What Gatorama does for customers like me, you can do for your business and your customers. Learning more about your service clients and ultimately adding value to the call for your customers, while increasing your average ticket, that’s how you turn your company into a money-making machine.


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