By Steve Kane
As an aviation enthusiast and airplane pilot, I take an interest in pretty much all kinds of flying. YouTube provides seemingly endless entertainment for people like me. I recently started watching lots of videos on paramotoring, also called powered paragliding or PPG. I came across a video featuring a couple of entrepreneurs in the PPG field reviewing a product they distribute. The title really grabbed my attention “. . .One Year Review–The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly–In 4K.”
Who Are These Guys?
These guys are Eric Farewell and Travis Burns of Aviator Paramotor. They distribute and sell this product line and they’re pointing out “The Bad & The Ugly?” What!?! Reviews like this commonly come from customers, but not sales people, especially not business owners.
The video pointed out some legitimate concerns that could make a potential customer think twice about purchasing. At the same time it made me want to buy from them. It made me trust them.
I asked Eric and Travis for a bit of their time to talk about why they would post a video pointing out the negatives of their product. They agreed to a video chat and told me about their business philosophy.
I asked Eric and Travis if they were apprehensive at all about posting the video. They told me, without any hesitation, that they had no concerns about airing their dirty laundry. Eric said it was a matter of following their moral compass. They believe in honesty in marketing and transparency. They acknowledged the fact that there is no perfect product. Their customers understand this as well. They felt they were providing better customer service by managing expectations.
“It’s All About Helping People”
Through candor and complete honesty, “People learn to trust us.” Eric and Travis also won’t sell to just anyone. Paramotor flying is unregulated. No training or licenses are required. The folks at Aviator Paramotor respect their customers enough to say no to buyers who haven’t received proper training. The sport involves generating enough lift to overcome gravity. Lift can fail. Gravity won’t. Safety, of course, is the primary concern. While Eric and Travis can’t ensure every new PPG pilot gets the proper training, they can prevent enabling over-enthusiastic would be self-taught pilots from going it alone.
I tend to think they create greater trust and loyalty in the long run by saying no when needed and sharing their candid opinions and observations about the products they sell. Their goal is to create evangelists for their brand. Helping people is clearly their purpose. Generating a profit is a little lower on the priority list.
What Did They Do With Their Constructive Feedback?
Eric and Travis took their feedback to the product manufacturer to improve the product. It appears the manufacturer appreciated the feedback. The complaints were addressed quickly and the problematic aspects of the paramotor were improved. Eric and Travis point this out in their video.
How Does This Align With Lean?
I admire Eric and Travis for their commitment to respect for people. Their long-term thinking of helping people, even at the expense of short-term profits, is apparent. As Eric explained during our discussion, “Business is all about relationships.” This is as true for the external business/customer relationship as it is for internal leadership/workforce relationship.
No leader or leadership team is perfect. Mistakes will be made. The workforce knows this. Respecting people enough to be honest and transparent what is and isn’t going well engenders loyalty and trust, to quote Eric Farewell. People can deal with disappointments. They’ll be fiercely loyal to leaders they believe and trust.
Here are the videos mentioned above.