Herb Kellaher, CEO
and co-founder of Southwest Airlines, walks into the press conference
wearing a golf shirt and jeans. In his classically feisty style, he
blasts the Big 7 over a proposed ticket tax. He's taking on one of the
most powerful industries in the world, and he's winning!
How do you fight
back when you're outnumbered and outspent? Southwest does it by re-defining
the competitive battlefield.
an on-site seminar for Southwest's sales and marketing team, I spent
several days at their General Offices in Dallas, meeting and interviewing
their key sales and marketing leadership. What I discovered was a model
for guerrillas everywhere.
As an airline, Southwest
qualifies for every superlative in the book. Profitable for 20 of 25
years in business, Southwest has won the industry Triple Crown (best
on-time performance, best baggage-handling accuracy, and best-rated
customer service) for each of the past five years. Not only do they
do things better, Southwest creates a competitive advantage by doing
Everyone here is
passionate about cutting costs, and passing the savings on to customers.
Regional Marketing Manager Judy Haggard says, "It costs about $7 to
print a paper boarding pass; people want low fares, so Southwest hands
out re-usable plastic passes and boards passengers first-come-first-served.
Meals average $25 a plate; people want low fares, so we serve only beverages
like SABRE are expensive; people want low fares, so we sell tickets
directly to the community." She quotes Kellaher, "It's easy to be expensive
and good. It's easy to be inexpensive and shoddy. It's hard to be inexpensive
When it comes to
running an airline, Southwest literally re-wrote the book (read : Nuts!
Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success,
by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg.)
For example, when
looking for new ways to expedite aircraft turns, instead of studying
other ground crews, they sent a team to observe the pit crews at the
The common myth
that "The Customer is Number #1" has been shattered at Southwest. Here
their PEOPLE are #1. The whole office routinely shuts down to celebrate
birthdays and anniversaries. Kellaher's management philosophy: "If you
take exceptional care of your people, they will take exceptional care
of your customers."
The walls at Love
Field were covered with memorabilia, proclamations, and snapshots of
company events ranging from award ceremonies to Halloween parties. This
self-promotion creates a unique esprit de corps, which everyone here
refers to as "The Southwest Spirit." It's an energy that fuels everything
they do. And they do it better than anyone else in the sky.±
Read more about
Southwest Airlines at their web site: www.iflyswa.com