Business Lessons Learned From Santa Claus

By Stacy Zemon, Publisher & Chief Scribe

DJ business owners can benefit from paying attention to a page or two from Santa Claus’ playbook.

Listening to customers, never overpromising, staying positive and not overpaying for new gear are all traits of Santa that we DJs would be wise to emulate.

If crowded stores and bitter cold temperatures have you feeling like the Grinch, it’s time to channel a different holiday icon: that roly-poly guy who delivers great Christmas gifts, just might be a great business role model.

Yes, it’s time to rethink Santa Claus and give him his due as successful businessman.

After all, this is a guy who runs a well-oiled machine, churning out an astounding number of products that ship out on time, year after year.

Granted, Santa does have certain advantages over the rest of us. He’s got elf employees who seem happy to work for free and don’t complain about long hours. His ability to make deliveries to millions of houses all over the world in only a few hours is another big plus.

But part of the reason Santa remains such a powerful holiday symbol is that he represents the ultimate in customer service, a cheerful, welcoming figure who makes dreams come true.

In the spirit of holiday cheer, here are a few lessons that mobile entertainers can learn from Santa:

He Listens to His Customers

Santa could save a whole lot of time and trouble in those busy pre-Christmas weeks by staying in his workshop and choosing appropriate gifts for each boy and girl himself. After all, this guy knows from toys.

Instead he hauls himself to malls and community centers to meet his adoring public. They may have runny noses and sticky fingers, but he welcomes them onto his lap, giving each child his full attention. He may nod here and there, but mostly he lets them do the talking.

Showing a genuine interest in your clients’ needs is a key step in building loyalty.

He Never Overpromises

During those lap chats, Santa walks a fine line between being positive and realistic. He doesn’t respond to pleas for a new bike or Barbie with a simple, “Sure! No problem!” He smiles, and says he might bring one, but with a crucial caveat: You have to be nice — not naughty — to get a present.

Children are told that they bear responsibility for the end result (which gets Santa off the hook if the hoped-for toy doesn’t end up under the tree that year).

He Stays Positive

In The Night Before Christmas, Santa is described as “a right jolly old elf.” Good-natured cheer is a key part of the Santa brand. Yes, he may be run ragged by mid-December, but he never lets the stress show.

Not only does that confidence inspire trust from the public, his can-do spirit motivates his team to slog through the final rush of toymaking. Ever heard of the elves going on strike?

Santa must be doing something right to keep them working productively in the run-up to Christmas.

He Doesn’t Overpay for His Gear

Santa must have cash-flow problems — giving away all those toys for free isn’t really a sustainable business model. But he knows how to cut costs when it comes to his equipment because Santa shops around and he is a savvy negotiator.

While exact details of Santa’s workshop headquarters are sketchy, storing all those toys must require a lot of warehouse space. By building where land was cheap, Santa kept his fixed costs to a minimum.

Santa’s Business Philosophy

  • Clear mission and clear primary target market: This guy has been bringing joy to millions of  children year after year for eons. And so clear is his mission that pretty much everyone, from young to old, knows it.
  • Strong brand: Red suite, white beard, memorable jingles. So simple, so powerful. Even the late Steve Jobs would be envious. Think about it, lining up for iPhone is nothing compared to the number of people who line up year after year to see Santa.
  • Multiple offerings for his target market: Lighting products, forest products, candies, clothing, toys, music, decorations, souvenirs, TV shows, movies, to name just a few. He is clearly after share of your wallet.
  • Reoccurring revenue: Have you ever heard of Christmas being cancelled? Regardless of weather or economic conditions, business goes on. In addition, as population grows, so does his customer base.
  • Strong customer retention: Not only are his customers very loyal, they even actively promote his business. I’ll bet Santa doesn’t spend a dime out of his pocket on marketing, sales and advertising.  Even Southwest Airlines I bet, no matter how great their service, doesn’t enjoy such loyalty.
  • No turnover: Have you ever heard of one of his elves jump ship to another holiday? Ain’t happening.  So imagine, no recruitment costs, no retraining costs, no unemployment insurance to buy. And happy elves I am sure also means much lower health insurance premiums.
  • Strong team work: Clearly his team enjoys what they do and feel appreciated. Just imagine, as in Santa’s workshop, what would your place be like if your people sang happy songs while working together side by side, day after day, year after year?
  • Clear roles and responsibilities: No confusion here. The Mrs. is in charge of operations, Rudolph and his team run the delivery vehicles, elves make the stuff. As for Santa, he does the delivery and is the face of the business. This allows him to interact first hand with his customers, which allows him to gain first hand information on what’s happening in his market.

While it may be impossible for any DJ company to replicate Santa’s business model, we can all be inspired by his sheer staying power. After all, this is a guy whose brand has stayed relevant for hundreds of years. He must be doing something right!

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