Whether you’re a hockey fan that was rooting on the Flyers or the Blackhawks this past week – what the Chicago Blackhawks have done to turn around their franchise in 18 short months is nothing short of staggering. Just think if your business had faltering success… since 1961. Your clients no longer show up, having lost all enthusiasm for you and your brand. It sounds like the perfect opportunity to throw in the towel, call it a day, and cut your losses.
But what if you decided that instead of giving up, it was time to reignite the passion that your clients and supporters once had for your business, and reclaim the success you once had? Could you take the lessons taken from the Chicago Blackhawks franchise and rally a revolution around your business?
The owner of the Blackhawks is Rocky Wirtz. Rocky took over the team after his father, Bill Wirtz passed away after battling cancer. Bill Wirtz, known for being a frugal owner (Dollar Bill was the nickname many Chicago sports fans called him) didn’t spend industry-standard money on players or the franchise.
When Rocky assumed the team the Blackhawks had only 3,500 season-ticket holders (the second lowest in the league). Their home games were not televised (a decision made by his father), and the team itself was no better than 5th in their division.
What Rocky Wirtz did in a matter of a few weeks was to literally change everything. One of his first decisions after his father passed away was to put the team on TV. He then negotiated a new radio contract and hired former Chicago Cubs president John McDonough. He made lots of big decisions in rapid succession to improve the team, improve the franchise, and bring the fans back. They even held a baseball-inspired offseason fan fest.
Throughout this season, an average of nearly 22,000 fans attended each game – a figure that lead the entire NHL. The team has now won the Stanley Cup – the first time since 1961. The city of Chicago and surrounding area is now wild about their hockey team in a way not ever seen.
There are many businesses, just like teams in professional sports that just can’t bring winning to (or back to) their franchises (Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Clippers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Buffalo Bills, etc). But the Blackhawks did it in 18 months. The difference: not being afraid to make big decisions, hire new people, and change from old school to new school overnight. In 2008 the Blackhawks had to borrow 34 million dollars to make payroll. Now they have brought the Stanley Cup back to Chicago. It gives hope to the hopeless and energy to those with a dream. But risks, and big ones, are required.
Jane Stimmler says
Good points all – and naturally, the way in which women handle their non-optional “role model” status is very important. Their support of other women is crucial to changing the status quo.