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When times get tough, get better

BRECKENRIDGE – In 19 years as a business consultant, Daniel Johnson has seen the economy cycle up and down. But when the economy does sour, Johnson doesn’t lose business, he gains it.

Johnson, owner of Resort Loyalty, a consulting firm that specializes in customer service and employee training, said his Breckenridge business has improved while merchants and magnates in everything from lodging to retail have struggled. Johnson said keen business managers know economic conditions can impact business, but employees slipping into negative attitudes and behaviors because of those conditions can do even more damage to the bottom line.

“When there’s a downturn in the economy, I’ve found since I started in this, that a desire to improve – especially in customer service – goes up, but only by the best businesses,” Johnson said. “The best businesses want to get better because they know it’s a great opportunity to win more business.”



Johnson said his business “began to skyrocket in November and December” as owners decided to take action instead of leaving success to fate. He said updating marketing, training employees and using consumer research contributes to maintaining a sense among employees that they’re working at a successful enterprise.

And, he said, businesses stay on top by looking at their performance on a grand scale, not just comparing themselves to the competition down the street.



“The early season was all fear,” Johnson said. “While other businesses were cutting back, Steve Lapinsohn (owner of Main Street Outlet) and Breck’s Specialty Sports Ventures were phoning us wanting to do secret shopper programs and training. For my clients, it’s about winning loyalty so that the per-purchase transaction is higher. When you’re nice, it’s a fact people spend more money.”

The partners at Grand Timber Lodge have used that logic to propel the company to extreme success. The timeshare vacation resort recently reaped 10 award nominations from the American Resort Development Association and won a project of excellence award, one of the top honors in the industry. Despite a general malaise in the travel industry, Grand Timber Lodge has increased sales year after year.

Developer and marketing director Mike Dudick said an internal indicator of the company’s success is that 40 percent of business is owner-based – which means the company is keeping current customers happy and generating more business.

“If all we did was sit back and rely on new business, we’d be down (like retail or other sectors), too,” Dudick said Friday. He said Grand Timber Lodge has recently used focus groups to gather customer feedback, installed new software to provide better reservations service and conducted other training. “This is a life-long purchase. It’s not like buying a hamburger. And the feedback we get is a barometer that we’re doing things right.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.


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