Business Advice: Take it From the Canucks

Want to run a more successful business? Look no further for guidance than to the Canucks.

Business Advice Inspired by the Canucks | BCBusiness

Want to run a more successful business? Look no further for guidance than to the Canucks.

Are you frustrating your customers enough? Have you invested in the proper strategies and adopted the best practices that will have your clientele alternately screaming with rage and weeping in helpless anguish? If not, you have failed to learn the lessons offered by what is arguably this province’s most successful brand. The slogan insists: “We are all Canucks.” But if you’re not regularly driving people half-insane, are you truly worthy of the name?

Vancouver’s NHL warriors are launching another long campaign – an appropriate time for B.C.’s business people to look at what makes the Canucks so successful. Ever since Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, there has been a booming industry in books that advise entrepreneurs to watch and learn. But in this market, what better role model could there be than the Vancouver Canucks? Such is their enduring popularity that it pretty much sucks the oxygen out of the local entertainment market. These guys are so big they reach beyond the sports consumer to hoover up potential opera revenue. How do they do it?

It’s About the Journey

The Canucks have been with us for over 40 seasons. They have come agonizingly close to winning it all, yet they never have. Should they ever actually win the Stanley Cup, who knows what the effect might be? As the team that sells out every game, year after year, why change tactics now? Achieving the ultimate victory may change the mood. TV executives often cite the example of Moonlighting, the hit 1980s series that featured crackling sexual tension between co-stars Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. Once the characters got married, the show lost momentum. Been there, had that. Winning the Stanley Cup would provide a huge release – after which the fan base might well roll over and go to sleep. Every year the team makes promises; every year it falls short. Result? You have to sell a kidney to get a ticket. Lesson: Tantalize. Never satisfy.


“If you listen,” former Porsche CEO Peter Schutz once said, “your customers will explain your business to you.” Nowhere is that more true than in pro sports. Every coach, GM, and Zamboni driver knows that fans are always ready to explain exactly what needs to be done. Often the solution involves trading defenceman Charlie “Turtle Legs” Chumpo for a package that includes Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost and draft picks. The Canucks, like many popular franchises, have been so successful in inspiring feedback that it has hived off into an entire new industry. Radio shows and websites allow fans to explain exactly why GM Mike Gillis and head coach Alain Vigneault couldn’t find their own asses with both hands and a GPS. It’s important to keep those channels open so customers can connect with your brand and feel like a part of the process, even as their laughable advice goes straight into the crapper. Lesson: Let your halfwit customers have their pointless say, and turn up the volume on your iPod.


Ever since Henry Ford invented the assembly line and McDonald’s began turning out indistinguishable hamburgers like so many Sedins, businesses have prized consistency. Big mistake. Classical conditioning proved long ago that intermittent rewards will keep lab animals drooling far longer. Consistency leads to complacency; failure keeps things interesting. When customers complain, just shrug and reply, “It’s a slump. It’s going to happen over a long year, but I can see things starting to turn around, and our staff meetings have been really positive. I believe in this lineup. Come back tomorrow.”
Lesson: No refunds.