Take me to Your Leader

If you’ve ever seen an old science fiction film, you already know the scene. Little green creatures land on Earth, get out of their spacecraft and say — invariably in perfect English — “Take me to your leader.”

It’s a critical moment in the film and always spins off into action as the puny earthlings try to destroy the spacecraft and its aliens with conventional methods. Of course, all that does is irritate them, so they vaporize everything within sight. (When will we learn?!) Eventually, the leader is identified — usually an army general or the President of the United States — and they have a tense meeting. There are ultimatums, deadlines … you know the drill.

Imagine for a moment that a group of traveling anglers find their way to your fishery, stop at a local watering hole, restaurant or convenience store and make the same demand … more or less. This time, though, it’s probably a question — something like, “Hey, where can we go to get the low-down on the fishing around here?”

Assuming your local bartenders, restaurateurs and convenience store clerks don’t open fire like the military in those sci-fi movies, where will they send these fishermen? Will they send them to you … to a competitor … to Walmart or a big-box store … or will they have no idea at all who can help them?

Be honest with yourself when you answer that question. It’s important. It not only speaks to how well your business is known in the area but to how well-respected it is among other business people.

Think about it this way. I bet that out-of-town anglers come into your store at least 20 or 30 times a year and ask where they should eat, stay the night or launch a boat. You have a standard answer for those questions. You tell them to go to the places that you like to eat or that offer quality accommodations and a decent rate. But do those restaurants, motels and marinas do the same for you? Do they even know you exist? Are your business cards or brochures available in those establishments? What about some discount coupons they could give to referrals? Put a map to your place on the back.

If you’re occasionally helping those businesses, why not make it a two-way street?

Who’s the leader in your fishing community — the go-to guy when someone has a question about what the fish are biting, what the state’s up to at your local fishery and what upcoming events are on the schedule? If you run the local shop and you can’t see that leader when you look in the mirror, you have a problem.

Fortunately, it’s one you can fix. There’s time and opportunity for you to become the leader your shop and your community need. Today is a good day to start.

You are not an island. Your business does not exist in a vacuum. You can benefit from help … from relationships.

Get out there and meet the other business people who can help you. Let them know how you have helped or will help them. Get some brochures and business cards. Give some away, too. Offer to take these people fishing, if you can. Offer them a special discount in your shop.

Hit the key restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, hotels, motels, fish camps and anywhere else an angler and potential customer might find himself on his way to you and your store.

If there’s a state fisheries office meeting regarding your area, be there — every time. Take notes. Be heard. Pass out coupons. Tell people the coupons are “concerned angler discounts.” Put that right on the coupon.

And when people think about the leader in your community when it comes to fishing, make sure they think of you.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s be that tide.