Blair Ramsing: “A good leader is a good delegator”

Delegate: A good leader is a good delegator. When you try to do everything, you fail to do anything, and that translates into a poor customer experience. I can do a decent job of business management, but my in-depth knowledge of marketing is pitiful. It’s about bringing on the right partners and employees for the […]

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Delegate: A good leader is a good delegator. When you try to do everything, you fail to do anything, and that translates into a poor customer experience. I can do a decent job of business management, but my in-depth knowledge of marketing is pitiful. It’s about bringing on the right partners and employees for the right roles.

As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Blair Ramsing.

Blair Ramsing is the author of a new book, ‘Building a Business: The real estate, design, and construction steps to opening your retail or food-service concept on time and on budget’ and co-owner of redC agency (Real Estate, Design & Construction) where he helps clients fulfill their dreams of opening a retail or restaurants concept. At redC, Blair has spearheaded the efforts of over 120 successful retail openings. Most recently, Blair became a franchise owner of Hydrate IV Bar in Fort Collins, Colorado with his business partner, Brendan Charles. Hydrate IV Bar is a hydration therapy spa that promotes wellness within. Blair grew-up in Eugene Oregon where he went to the University of Oregon and currently splits his time between Oregon and Colorado (when on retreat from client travel). In his spare time, Blair enjoys working on nuclear nonproliferation policy & strategy, as well as getting outside for camping, skiing, tennis, and drinks on the town with friends.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you got started?

It started with a craft beer bar I was managing while in college seven years ago. (Go, Ducks!) The bar was a franchise, and the franchisor asked if I wanted a job in Denver post-college, opening new restaurants and bars. I jumped at the opportunity, and after three years with the organization, I had opened dozens of restaurants and bars coast to coast. We hired Real Estate, Design, and Construction (redC) to consult with us on real estate and development. The founder of redC, Brendan Charles, asked if I wanted to partner with him. Of course, I said yes. And I’ve spearheaded design and construction for redC ever since!

When my business partner found out that one of our clients, Hydrate IV Bar (a hydration therapy spa) was franchising, Brendan said, “We’ve got to open one of these!” So now we also own a Hydrate IV spa in Fort Collins, Colorado, with plans to open more down the road.

I also recently wrote a book, Building a Business. I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs fail to open their businesses on time or on budget, so I wrote a crash course book to help guide folks in what they need to know on the real estate, design, and construction side of things. There weren’t any books out there that showed the steps needed to open a retail or restaurant concept.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or takeaways you learned from that?

I’ve made many mistakes, only some of which I can laugh at now. I’ve flown to job sites to meet with clients, only to realize I gave them the wrong date after arriving at the lunch spot a week early.

One time I was helping a client open a restaurant in a small town in Georgia. The store’s construction was complete, the furniture was in place, and the grand opening events were set for the following week. Problem was, we had not yet gotten through final inspections. Every single city inspector failed to make it to their inspection appointment. One inspector was injured falling off a horse, another got sick, another was stranded out of town with a broken-down car . . . The list goes on. The wheels were already in motion for opening activities and employees had been hired, so we had to pull some strings to accommodate an unorthodox patio-only opening.

The life lessons: You can never over-communicate, and always give yourself slack when planning events that rely on factors you cannot control.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful for helping you get to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m blessed to have many role models who have helped me get to where I am. My business partner, Brendan, to start! I would not be where I am without his coaching, guidance, and expertise. Then, of course, there’s my mom. She’s an incredible role model. She always says, “All you really have in life is your integrity.” That statement has become my guiding north star.

Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your own words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?

It sounds cliché, but the customer experience and service are everything, especially in a higher-end wellness spa like Hydrate IV Bar. Same story with my other company, redC, where we act as fiduciary consultants. A great customer experience creates loyalty. It also creates a memorable event. That customer now becomes your advocate as they chat with friends and colleagues about their experience. That is a level of legitimacy and earnestness that a business’s marketing efforts will never be able to match.

We have all had times, either in a store or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

I think the unspoken mantra of too many companies is “the purpose is profit.” When companies get tunnel vision on maximizing profits, they lose focus on the fact that it’s all about the people first — both the customer and the employee. Provide a great service and experience to the customer, and the profit will come. This can be seen in so many facets. A noteworthy example is underpaying employees. Paying minimum wage garners minimum outcomes. An employer will see a constant churn of employment, which translates into poor customer experience, because then they are chronically interacting with fresh employees who cannot service customers in the same way longstanding employees can.

Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?

Absolutely. Competition keeps you honest and earnest! When consumers have options in the service industry, they will always go to the business that provides the best service at the best price. The presence of online reviews makes it that much more critical for a business to properly service its customers, since customers increasingly share their interactions on social media and company review websites. Most people now look at reviews before patronizing a business, and a few bad reviews can damage your reputation. This means the customer experience is that much more critical to a business’s success.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “wowed” by the experience you provided?

Recently we had a customer walk through the door who didn’t know much about hydration therapy, but she decided to come in after stumbling upon us online and reading the great reviews and positive results of IV therapy that customers had posted.

Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

It sure did. That walk-in customer is now a member who comes back every month.

Okay, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know to create a Wow! customer experience? Please share a story or an example for each.

People: First and foremost, it’s the people in your organization who make the company.

Buy-in: You have to believe in your product, and you have to hire team members who share your product beliefs. If I start a venture and I don’t have a passion for what I’m doing, that flame will burn out eventually.

Culture: The owner sets the tone and creates the culture, and then it all trickles down from there. It takes nothing to be positive, so do it. I always say the most infectious thing in life is attitude. It’s a remarkable thing to just sit back and read the room. People will always conform to the mood of the leadership (or the loudest voice) in the room. Owning and operating a business is stressful as hell. There’s a time and place to let those emotions out, but it’s never in front of customers or employees.

PPP: Any business boils down to just three things: the people, the process, and product. Step back from all the graphs, pro formas, and marketing strategies, and analyze your PPP. If you have the right people, a smooth process, and a good product, everything else will follow suit, but you must first take an honest look at these business basics.

Delegate: A good leader is a good delegator. When you try to do everything, you fail to do anything, and that translates into a poor customer experience. I can do a decent job of business management, but my in-depth knowledge of marketing is pitiful. It’s about bringing on the right partners and employees for the right roles.

Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?

Yes, building an audience for any new business often starts at the grassroots level. It’s about thanking your current customers for their support and asking them to spread the word. A heartfelt “If you’ve enjoyed your experience, please leave a review online and make sure to tell your friends about us” or simply saying, “Have them reach out to me directly” can make all the difference in the early stages of a new business. The key is to make each customer feel special and that as owners, we’re within reach.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement, it would be the movement of positive mindset! It’s another cliché, but you really can do anything you put your mind to. When you earnestly tell yourself, I can do this, it’s incredible what you’re able to accomplish. In life, it’s your attitude along with your aptitude that determines your altitude!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

My social media presence is lacking, to say the least. I do an annual post on Facebook and Instagram to let my friends and family know I’m still alive, and that’s about it! I’m too busy with business! But you can follow my Hydrate IV Bar Fort Collins business account on Instagramand Facebook or find me on LinkedIn. I’ll try to start posting more!

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