Mike Kelly: Leadership & Mindset Beat Any Recession

Mike Kelly, Owner of the Kelly Hospitality Group
Mike Kelly, Owner of the Kelly Hospitality Group

When I decided to write on the power of a recession-proof mindset, I started looking for successful examples of entrepreneurs that create their own economies, despite what the media calls a “recession”. Mike Kelly, of the Kelly Hospitality Group, is one of the best examples of such entrepreneurs.

In the small NC community formed by the Outer Banks, approximately 35,000 people reside within  along,  thin stretch of land (almost an island).

The region is highly seasonal, reaching over 500,000 visitors/week during certain times in the summer. Due to the summer migration, most businesses in the area are ONLY open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, closing theirs doors as the tourists head back home.

During the winter months, few businesses stay open, and the majority burn through their summer profits just to keep their lights on.

At Kelly’s Restaurant & Tavern, however, tables are full even during the winter.

Kelly’s is the star of the Kelly Hospitality Group, which includes two other restaurants in the area as well, owned by Mike Kelly.

The night before Valentine’s day, Kelly’s dining room was full before 5pm. The last entree came out of the kitchen a few minutes past 11pm, with guests waiting over an hour for a table.

In the lounge, as diners arrived and waited patiently for a table, Mr. Kelly himself was the host, entertaining guests, serving drinks, and ensuring effective table turnovers.

The same scenario can be applied to the Friday before last, and to the one before that. Kelly’s is always full, and the reason is immensely due to its owner.

Mr. Kelly is always the first one in, and the last one out. He knows every vendor, every repeat guest, and this relationship is extend in all his marketing campaigns.

On his 3 restaurants, several data-gathering opportunities are softly presented to guests, and the communication is differentiated between local Outer Banks residents and tourists, to maximize personalization. This winter, when the area was surprisingly covered by two inches of snow, Mike sent out a postcard to his list of residents with a picture of his building covered in snow, that said: we’re always open, it’s warm inside, and the food is always great.

The consequences of Mike Kelly’s efforts are represented on the cordiality and dedication of the staff, who are greatly motivated by the owner’s leadership. Kelly sets the example to be followed by every employee, and even his wife often joins the staff and help on the busiest occasions.

His persistent relationship-building, through personal & direct marketing, impacts his turnover and determines his success.

One thing to be noticed is that Kelly’s marketing has been consistently effective, no matter what the economy is. Recession in, recession out, his presence is always noticed in the local media, his campaigns always include a bonus for local residents, and it reflects on his sales.

Entrepreneurs such as Mike Kelly create their own economy, focusing on his target market and ignoring national economy, news, and bailouts. Their mindset sets the pace of their success, and their leadership guides his entire enterprise forward.

Now, it is up to you: how do you plan on overcoming this ‘recession’ epidemic? Have you not been affected at all? How?

Why Some People Will Live In A Recession Forever

Today, I had to stand in line to speak to a Charter technician. It felt really 20th century being forced to drive there and actually see a technician, but I’ll save that thought for another post.

While I was in line, a lady came in to do something with her receiver; she had all kinds of cables and this huge receiver under her arm, and she was not happy.

As soon as she walked in the office, she sighed at the 4-people line, and mumbled a “Oh, crap!”. The office had a customer service phone booth, and she decided to place her receiver next to phone; now, the receiver was at least 1 1/2 the width of the booth, so balancing it was quite a feat.

30 seconds after she finished securing the receiver on the booth, the lady probably dislocated the air around it and the receiver started to fall. When she reached for it, she banged her elbow on the edge of the booth. Even though she managed to save the receiver, her elbow was bleeding  badly.

As she cursed, we all learned that the exact spot she hit had been recently stitched after another cut. The coincidence (really?) marked the beginning of a series of “that’s exactly what I needed!”, “what else now?”, “that only happens to me!”, amongst others, not so polite.

Of course, the whole office was involved on her suffering, bringing her napkins, and trying to calm her down.

As I got called in, and sat down with the technician, I couldn’t help but overhear the unfortunate lady at the counter. It turns out, she was returning the receiver, and cancelling her cable services.

At the counter, she found the perfect opportunity to include the so-called recession to her list of problems: “I don’t understand why the government doesnt approve the stimulus check already”, she says. “This economy is impossible right now, my boss just cut my hours”.

I could not stop thinking about how would her complaints ever be of any benefit. I, of course, know nothing about her, and maybe she was just having a bad day.

However, wouldn’t she recognize a pattern between her situation (at that moment, at least), and her mindset?

Would You?

The reason behind this quick story is to illuminate how mindset can rule over economy, no matter whether it’s recessive.

The extension of your thoughts reaches way beyond your pockets; how can one expect to be in a better situation when your entire focus is on your current, crappy situation?

So I invite you to participate in this discussion. Post a comment, and let me know If I’m wrong, or should we all be whining to OBAMA?