About Rob Trecek

Rob Trecek
With over 20 years of integrated marketing experience including database and print/mail management , Rob manages the continued growth of JD as Director of Business Development. Rob works to identify prospects and cultivate relationships that can make a positive impact on businesses.

An Ultimate Customer Experience at Noah’s Ark

It was a small gesture…yet it made all the difference in the world.

My wife and I decided to take our two kids, age 13 and 11 to Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells a couple weeks ago.  It’s advertised as “America’s Largest Waterpark”. It has 49 thrilling water rides, two giant wave pools, two endless rivers, four children’s water play areas, miniature golf, a 4D theater and live shows. It truly is fun for the entire family.

Even though the weather was gorgeous and we were visiting in the middle of peak season, we didn’t find the crowd unbearable at all.  Even the line on the newest attraction, the Scorpions Tail, took less than 20 minutes.  The parking is free, they have plenty of lounge chairs to rest on and they even let you bring a cooler of food to eat at designated picnic areas close to the parking lot. The park itself was well maintained and spotless!

The only complaint I could come up with were the attitudes of the life guards.  They seemed rather robotic and excuse the term…”guarded”.  They are mostly high school and college kids, working for minimum wage, and working 7 days a week, 10 hours a day.  It can get rather monotonous and they are obviously more worried about getting people in and out of the rides safely than by creating small talk. You also have to consider that the majority of the lifeguards were from foreign countries and probably weren’t confident with their English.

Things changed drastically when the family headed to the Bahama Falls rafting ride in the late afternoon.  When we got to the front of the line we were greeted by a young man who was smiling ear to ear.  He was a Russian college student by the name of Vladislav Fedorov.  He was quite engaging in his broken accent asking us if we were enjoying our time at the park and asking the kids what their favorite ride so far was.  He then warned us to hold on tight as he gave us a big push.  My kids couldn’t stop talking about him for 15 minutes!  I went to one of the managers to let him know how much my family appreciated Vladislav’s friendliness.  “Oh yeah”, said the manager, “that’s good old Vlady.  He’s a keeper!  We get positive comments about him at least twice a day.”

Vlady’s customer service attitude reminded me of what Scott McKain calls the “Ultimate Customer Experience” in his book Collapse of Distinction.

McKain goes into detail on how they treat you on a Singapore Airlines flight.  On every first class flight, they will take your suit jacket and hang it up. The flight attendant doesn’t return your jacket until immediately after the flight has landed. She waits until he had stood up from his seat, then helped him put the jacket on. Other flight attendants did the same with every other passenger with a jacket.

It was a small, tiny gesture — that made a big impact. It was personal…not corporate. It was intimate…not mass appeal.

McKain also writes about the practice at Les Schwab Tires. When you pull in their parking lot, they RUN to your car to serve you. It’s created an amazingly successful business — even though the tires they sell are IDENTICAL to their competition — because of their “sudden service.”

Being personable before heading off on a water slide, helping you with your jacket…running to your car…are essential elements of the Ultimate Customer Experience®…yet, they do not cost the company anything in terms of execution.

Yet, as McKain points out, most organizations will seek to buy more ads, invest in more intensive marketing, or some other scheme to persuade people to come back and do more business.

What little, no cost, step could YOU and your organization take that would cost you practically no money… make a big difference with customers…and ultimately help you stand out from your competition.

Rob Trecek
Director of Business Development

“No” is a Good Answer!

Being in sales, I like to get together every month with a local group of fellow sales professionals. It gives us the chance to share successes, ideas, war-stories and helps keeps us focused and positive.

Last week at one of our monthly lunch meetings, a group member mentioned that he has been in sales negotiations with one of his prospects for several months.  After numerous meetings and phone calls, the prospect is still “hee-hawing” around.  He keeps dragging him on, telling him “perhaps” or “maybe” and “why don’t you check in with me in a couple weeks.”

Several in the group mentioned that it was a stall tactic and the sales person hadn’t done a good job answering all the key objections.  Others in the group questioned if this guy was the correct decision maker.  Others mentioned it may be timing or financial issue. One person in our group mentioned that perhaps the guy is too nice to tell him no, he isn’t interested.

That comment reminded me of an Al McGuire story I read in Dick Enberg’s autobiography entitled, Oh My! that I shared with the group.

Checking into a hotel room in Champaign, IL prior to a Big Ten game between the Illini and Purdue, Al began to argue with a young female clerk at the registration desk.  Al had a lot of quirks and he preferred rooms on the first or second floor, explaining that in case of trouble you could always jump to safety.  According to the clerk, she didn’t think anything was available. She proudly announced that she had a much more elaborate room reserved especially for him on a higher floor.  But Al insisted that’s not what he wanted.  She said she’d try to talk to her superior, but he was still at lunch, that maybe he could do something or that maybe, just maybe, a room on the third floor would work.  Finally, raising his voice for emphasis, Al said, “Young lady, it’s alright to tell me ‘No’.  The answer I want is ‘Yes’; that’s the best answer. But ‘Maybe’ is driving me wacky!”

Later that evening he reviewed the experience over dinner. “Too many people are afraid to give you a ‘No’ so they give you a ‘We’ll see’ or a ‘maybe’.  That’s a bad answer.  It’s a delaying tactic.  Eventually, you’re probably going to get a ‘No’ anyway.”

“We do it to our associates, our kids, our players.  It’s a waste.  Tell ‘em ‘No’.  It’s a good answer.  It allows you to go on with your business and get a ‘Yes’ somewhere else.  ‘Maybe’ is the bad answer.  It’s like ice-fishing.  It’s insane!”

“No” is a good answer!  Not only a lesson in sales but in life as well!

Rob Trecek
Director of Business Development

Sales Lessons from Middle School Forensics and Dr Suess

My daughter has been a part of her grade school Forensics team for a couple years. This year I decided to volunteer my time as a Forensics judge. The requirements are minimal….believe me!

A couple of weekends ago we both participated in the Wisconsin Middle School State Forensics Tournament in Neenah, Wisconsin. My first category I was judging was Poetry. Not typically one of my favorites. The first contestant, 23C3, (no names in forensics….you’re only a number!) got up poised and confident and proceeded to give a very enthusiastic and passionate rendering of the Dr. Suess classic, Green Eggs & Ham. It brought back great childhood memories!

Here’s a little plot review for those who may have forgotten the story. There are two main characters: The first is unnamed, the second is named Sam-I-Am, or simply Sam. Throughout the book/poem, Sam tries to encourage the first unnamed character to try green eggs and ham with little success. The unnamed character refuses to taste the dish, insisting that he would not like it. Sam then goes through an assortment of locations (house, car, tree, train, box, boat) and dining partners (fox, goat, mouse) trying to persuade the unnamed character to eat.

The conclusion of the tale occurs when the unnamed character, standing in shallow water after a boat sinks, surrounded by various people and beasts, finally gives in and tries the green eggs and ham on the condition that Sam leaves him alone. Upon doing so, he realizes that he does, in fact, like green eggs and ham, and would eat them in all places and with all dining partners suggested throughout the book. The story closes with the character thanking Sam-I-Am for his persistence.

Green Eggs and Ham is a best-selling and critically acclaimed book written by Dr. Suess and first published in 1960. As of 2001, according to Publishers Weekly, it was the fourth-bestselling English-language children’s book of all time. But as I was filling out my rubrics sheets for the first round of the forensics tournament it hit me that Suess’ children’s classic can also teach us some rather practical sales and marketing advice as well!

First, Sam is a persistent little salesman! He is so persistent that he tries to reach his customer in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, in the dark, on a train, in a car, in a tree, in a box, with a fox, in a house and with a mouse. In the end, those friendly marketing exposures worked! Sam was multi-channel before multi-channel was cool!

Second, Sam gives those of us in sales an excellent lesson on how to handle objection and rejection. He remains constantly positive and confident that the unnamed character will like green eggs and ham..if he can only get him to try them.

And there’s the third lesson, he offers the unnamed character a Free or Trial Offer. When the prospect finally agrees to the trial, Sam lets his prospect make up his own mind, and in a way makes the sale!

Last but not least, the participants of the forensics meet had some good sales lessons to impart as well. Through rehearsal and practice, they developed a poise and confidence and went up and delivered their presentation with “No Fear”!

I got a little more than I bargained for a couple weekends ago in Neenah. All well worth it!

Rob Trecek
Director of Business Development

The $100,000 Salt and Pepper Shaker


Over the weekend I re-read Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture. It’s an amazing guide of how to live one’s life written by somebody who was dying of pancreatic cancer.  There are many fascinating stories in the book, but as a marketing professional I wanted to highlight one that struck me with its simplistic message of how interactions, no matter how seemingly small, can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

The $100,000 Salt and Pepper Shaker

Over 35 years ago, when Randy was 12 and his sister 14, their parents took them on a vacation to Disney World.  Towards the end of the vacation, their parents allowed Randy and his sister 90 minutes to explore the park by themselves without being monitored.  They all agreed on a spot to meet.  Randy and his sister wanted to show their appreciation to their parents for the trip and especially allowing them 90 minutes to explore by themselves.  They pooled their allowance money and headed for the nearest Disney gift shop.  They soon found the perfect gift, a ten dollar ceramic Disney salt and pepper shaker featuring two bears hanging off a tree, each one holding a shaker.  Randy and his sister were giddy when they left the store, excited to see their parents faces when they opened the gift.

Minutes later, tragedy struck when Randy accidentally dropped the shaker and it broke on impact. Randy and his sister were in tears.  An adult guest in the park saw what happened and suggested they should take it back to the store. Randy knew it was his fault but he decided to go back to the store not expecting a positive outcome.  After Randy had told the clerk what happened, both Randy and his sister were surprised and delighted when they were told they could get a new shaker.  The Disney employee even apologized to them for not wrapping the shaker appropriately and gave them a new one…no questions asked.

So Why is the Salt & Pepper Shaker worth $100,000?

When Randy’s parents learned of the incident, it really increased their appreciation of Disney World. In fact, that one customer service decision over a ten dollar salt and pepper shaker would end up earning Disney more than $100,000.   That small act of kindness made an indelible mark on Randy’s parents that they would take to a whole other level.

Randy’s parents made visits to Disney World an integral part of their volunteer work.  They had a twenty-two passenger bus they would drive English-as-a-second-language students from Maryland down to see the park.  For more the 20 years, Randy’s dad bought tickets for dozens of kids to see Disney World.  All in all, since that day, Randy’s family has spent more than $100,000 at Disney World on tickets, food and souvenirs! That’s a pretty large return on investment…wouldn’t you say!

Later in his career as a consultant for Disney, Randy would often ask Disney executives this question:

“If I sent a child into one of your stores with a broken salt and pepper shaker today, would your policies allow your workers to be kind enough to replace it?”

Randy stated that “the executives squirm at the question.  They know the answer: Probably not.”

It’s been almost two years since Randy’s death, but I’m sure his family still has that salt and pepper shaker and the memorable story that goes with it!

In the economic environment we find ourselves in…it’s worth noting…the little things really do matter…sometimes more than we know.

Rob Trecek
Director of Business Development