One Sunday afternoon before President’s Day, my wife and I decided to take our two younger kids skiing at Elk Mountain in Northeast Pennsylvania. I grew up skiing on this hill and my family lives close so we spend a fair amount of time on these slopes each winter. My wife and I are still old school skiers but our kids have recently shifted over to snowboarding.
We pulled up to the ‘mountain’ (that’s how the locals refer to Elk Mountain) about 12:30pm. Just in time for the afternoon lift tickets. To our surprise and disappointment, there were no boards for rent. Yikes, in the middle of the busiest ski weekend of the year, Elk runs out of boards! Of course I began calculating the lost revenue while the kids were coming up with plan B. Should we ski? Should we come back and see if there are boards for the evening session? Should we go visit grandpa and go for a hike instead? We chose hiking with an option to come back in the evening but of course that never happened because we were too tired from our hike.
So what is the business lesson? Know your shifting customer base! The number of young people boarding these days continues to skyrocket. At one time, there seemed to be a feud between boarders and skiers but that has faded. Boarders and skiers share the slopes but even my fading powers of observations indicate that boarding is more popular with younger people.
In this case, Elk failed in the basics. They failed to
- Understand their customer’s shifting needs,
- Anticipate their customer needs and to
- Shift their current offering with the shifting customer demand.
Basic business, but Elk lost out on 4 afternoon lift tickets and a couple rentals. That’s about a $250 value. No boards, no revenue!