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November 22, 2004

Baseball's Lessons for Lawyers

Great post by Jeff Angus over at Management by Baseball about how the Minnesota Twins have incorporated a new innovative way to price their season tickets by using flexible vouchers.  In short, Twins fans can buy vouchers for game tickets (each priced $2.00 less than normal ticket price).  If a fan buys the minimum of 40 vouchers, they can go alone to 40 games, take a friend to 20, three others to 10, etc.  Each time the vouchers can be used for different seats, on an “as available” basis. 

When I first read about the Twins’ plan, I started to think about how lawyers could use a similar voucher plan in their offices.  We are talking to a few of our clients about offering estate-planning vouchers they can pass on as gifts to adult children, friends, parents, employees, etc.  Each voucher is good for two wills, and powers of attorney for health care and property.  We’ll offer the vouchers at a slightly lower cost than our normal flat rate for the services.  In the event a person needs more significant estate planning, we’ll apply the value of the voucher towards our normal fee for that service.  If this year’s trial run goes well, we will offer all of our clients the vouchers beginning next year.

At the end of his post, Jeff sounds like he is speaking directly to lawyers, when he shares some of his own experience with “out of the box” thinking:

It's amazing sometimes how rigidly a seller will adhere to a delivery scheme through inertia, even when the model has always been broken.

I worked for a swell software company where one of the highest-margin products it had was a product that could not be used by a single user. The fewest people this networked program could use was two. The buying of a single unit would only be for an upgrade (where an existing set of users needed to add another user). Dozens of times every week, technical support received phone calls from people who had just bought one unit and couldn't do anything with it (imagine instant messaging where you're the only person who has it).

Resistance to change was overwhelming. They had always sold 1-packs. It didn't matter that a 2-pack required only another registration key (a slip of paper with another number on it), and would therefore cost about 15 cents more to make while nearly doubling the asking price, never mind it would cut down on angry or confused (or both) customers and those customers' wrath directed at clueless resellers and our own technical support. And this was software, not something hard to package like a power-drill or a workbench or a piece of furniture -- it was a book, a pamphlet, a card with a number on it and a disc. No-one needed to design new packaging.

It took over a year to even get the idea discussed. Ugly, but not unusual.

Decisions as to what to put in the box usually stem from earlier wisdom that was actually wise. The wisdom then loses some of its value over time, but systems and the people who run them fall into patterns they don't want to change.

The Twins woke up and tried something different from what teams have been doing since their executives started working in baseball.

Shouldn't you?




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