Make It Personal

As I turned to leave, Don, my barber yelled, “Rodney!”


“Remember, if you can’t make it back next month, send in $10!”

The whole room laughed and I waved good-bye, cup of coffee in hand, and headed next door to place my uniform order for my son’s baseball team (yep, it’s that time of year again).

Like the barber shop, the store’s owners, Ameena and Bill, greeted me by name as I entered and stopped what they were doing to chew the fat. Somewhere along the way, I placed an order. As I left to head to the office (how great is it to get your hair cut, run an errand and still be in the office by 9 am?), I couldn’t help but feel happy. I’d knocked two things off that day’s “To Do” list and I’d spent some time with folks I consider friends, even though I never see them in a social setting.

As I drove to the office, I thought about that. Everywhere I go, restaurants, church, my kid’s school, even to buy gas, I’m greeted cordially and, over time, recognized as a regular customer. As weird as it sounds, that simple recognition keeps me coming back and, in many cases, looking forward to the experience.

How ironic? Being friendly and cordial is not only good for the soul, but also great for business.

The folks at Starbucks have this little fact figured out.

The other day, I made my daily morning stop at our branch and, as usual, Kristin, the drive through server, was pleasant, recognizing me as a regular and asking me how I was. As she completed my order, she handed me the receipt and said if I wanted, I could take their online survey for a chance to win a $1,000.

Later, in the office, I spied the receipt and thought, “why not?”

I punched up the Web site and started the quick survey. Wouldn’t you know it? The majority of the questions were service related. Was I recognized when I placed the order? Did the server know my name? How long did it take to complete my order? Did I enjoy the experience? Would I recommend this branch to another?

All of these questions came before the ones dealing with their actual product – the coffee.

Interesting. It appeared to me that Starbucks was as concerned, if not more concerned, that their staff worked hard to make every stop at Starbucks a personal experience. The same is true in the camp world – king of the “make it personal” philosophy.

This issue is a sort of testament to that concept. In it you’ll find ideas for personalizing awards for your campers, using photos to connect campers and their parents, and designing camp programs that allow your campers to make their experience unique to them.

Of course, you’ll also find a host of other interesting tidbits – ideas for maximizing your Web site (online registration and search engine optimization), refurbishing your pool (can you say sandblast?) and keeping your campers healthy.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, you’re also now holding the industry’s best Buyer’s Guide – a complete listing of vendors organized by company name and product for quick reference. The guide is also available in a handy online format (, which includes hot links to the vendor’s Web site and the email address of the key contact. I hope you like it.

As always, feel free to drop me a line and let me know how we’re doing or suggest ideas for upcoming articles.

Till next month,

Rodney J. Auth


Bryan BuchkoComment