Do you leave your stakeholders stranded?

Alan Cameron-Sweeney

Do You Leave Your Stakeholders Stranded?

When budget airlines became popular in Europe, it was like the Wild West.

Ryanair stood out among all that competition.

They were amazing at generating profits. But they were even better at marketing.

“Flight to Barcelona - Only $50!”

Who wouldn’t stop in their tracks after seeing that?

I mean, it sounds too good to be true. 

And maybe it was.

Well, it depends. How close to Barcelona do you want to land?

Because that $50 flight didn’t actually land in Barcelona. It took you to Girona airport.

If you haven’t heard of it, I’m not surprised. It’s not in the heart of Barcelona. It’s not even on the outskirts. 

It’s more than an hour from the city. 

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal. An hour in the shuttle after a long flight isn’t ideal, but it’s over soon enough and then you can have a fabulous holiday.

Except there was no shuttle. 

There wasn’t any customer service to speak of.

How do you get to Barcelona?

Figure it out yourself - or spend a week stranded in Girona. 

Are Your Stakeholders Getting a Marketing Trick?
Your stakeholders are expecting to land in Barcelona.

Are you bringing them there, or are you landing in Girona?

Your stakeholders want to know what to do next. They want to be confident in their decisions.

If all you’re doing is providing basic reports or insights, they’re not getting what they wanted.

Yes, it costs more to provide actionable solutions. It takes more resources to help stakeholders make strategic decisions.

You need more FTE. You need people with additional skill sets.

That won’t come cheap.

Then again, neither do premium airlines.

But they give you premium service. And they don’t leave you stranded hundreds of kilometres from your actual destination.

You get genuine value - not sneaky marketing tactics.

So, you need to ask yourself the following question.

Do you want your Finance team to operate like a full-service, premium airline?

Or do you want to make your stakeholders feel like they just flew with Ryanair?

What's Girona Like?
Oddly enough, I have been to Girona.

And not by accident - on purpose. 

In Ireland, I trained as a Financial Accountant for CRH, a $20 billion holding company focused on building materials.

I spent two weeks assisting with an internal audit in Barcelona. One of the cement companies was headquartered in Girona, so we spent a day there. 

And let me tell you, Barcelona is a destination.

But Girona is just a place.

We didn’t stay any longer than we needed. We didn’t even stop for dinner.

We finished our business and then eagerly headed back to Barcelona for a good time.

I can also tell you that it wasn’t easy to get to and from Girona. We had to hire cars.

Thankfully, we didn’t fly Ryanair.

No, we needed reliable service. Arriving on time and at the correct destination were non-negotiables.

It cost a little more to fly with a premium airline, but it was worth every dollar.

Where Budget Airlines Save Money
When you see a $50 flight advertised, the first thing you ask yourself is, “Where are these budget airlines saving money?”

There’s a reason they can offer such a great bargain - and it’s not just the lack of customer service.

Airlines pay for a slot to land their planes at an airport. They also pay for priority status if there’s a delay.

So, if ten planes need to take off after being grounded by a storm, the premium airlines jump the queue.

They paid for that privilege, and you’ll be up in the air much sooner because of it.

Your $50 ticket might feel like a bargain - until you’re sitting at the airport for hours, watching other travellers take off before you.

That’s not so bad if you’re flying for a weekend away. You’re not in any kind of rush. Just buy an overpriced beer, read a few chapters of your novel, and wait for your gate to open.

If you’re flying for business, it’s a different story.

Your stakeholders aren’t enjoying a leisurely weekend. They’re doing business.

They have important decisions to make. They’re time-sensitive and delays can be costly.

They need to know you have the capacity to prioritize them.

The Service Your Customers Want

One of the topics I cover in my Finance workshops on Influence is: “How do you want your customers to feel?”

You can probably guess some of the answers I get most often. 

Stakeholders want to feel:

  • Confident
  • Understood
  • Listened to
  • Trusting
  • Knowing what to do next

Budget airlines don’t make you feel that way. Neither do budget Finance teams.

If your Finance team wants to be influential, they need to be premium. 

Otherwise, they’re leaving their stakeholders stranded, with no idea how they’ll reach their real destination.

- Alan “Destination” Cameron-Sweeney

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