Seth Godin today listed ways to make your customer feel stupid. Because of this, they tend to leave and never come back, or don't purchase in the first place. I'll list a few of his rules and offer some thoughts to them as it pertains to horse racing.
"Collect money as though you're in the long-term relationship business, but in every other way, act like you don't expect the relationship to last."
This is like getting a split fingered fastball that's not split or fast; an easy one to park. We love you very much, and despite us signing a billion dollar slots contract, your concession prices are going up, takeout is being hiked, we're adding new ADW taxes, and please give me $1,200 for Derby seats. I know racing's demographic is not young, but a few people might be around for at least a couple years to remember how they're treated. If you try to build a relationship instead of hijacking it, it might actually last.
Talk about your customers (students/clients/members) behind their back in a way you'd never talk to their face
A 54 MPH knuckler that doesn't knuckle. There are database geniuses, business owners, Phd's, professionals and many others playing this game. Some of the board of the Horseplayers Association are business turnaround specialists, work in corporate America, developed marketable software or have run successful enterprises. Yet everyone is a dumb bettor who doesn't get it. It's stunning, and no I am not being too harsh. This business doesn't just speak poorly of customers behind their back, they do it right to their face.
Assume the worst about a customer's intent, intelligence and background.
See above. Customers want the business to search for optimal takeout rates, for example, which will increase purses, handle, and make horse racing healthier. And we're the bad guys?
Charge different prices at different outlets and shrug your shoulders when you get found out.
Want lower takeout in California? Show them you bet $1M a year. And don't tell anyone. If you say "I bet $400,000 last year but would easily bet $2 million with lower juice", see above: You'll be called a dumb bettor who doesn't get it.
Give your customers a product, idea or service that causes them to be ridiculed or shamed by people they hope to impress.
This one is too easy. The greatest gambling game ever invented - a game that if you can beat you'd likely do well on Wall Street, poker or any other "glamorous" pursuit - has been relegated to "you can beat a race but you can't beat the races". The people in charge did that, and it's sad.
Horse racing does not have a purse problem. Purses are up the last twenty years. It doesn't have a revenue problem either; those slot machines are humming like never before. What racing does have is a customer problem. That problem won't go away tomorrow or the next day, but it can at least start to get better. If you have a track or run a horsemen group, read Seth's blog. Digest it, think about it and understand it. And start putting it into practice. That's free advice from a dumb bettor.