As we enter this season, we are celebrating our 10th year in business at Ski Butlers.
10 years of learning, growing, thinking, expanding, meeting, greeting and skiing. 10 years of being surrounded by the greatest team members in the business. 10 years of delivering service to the best customers on the slopes. 10 years of working with all our wonderful partners, who have made us stronger and better. 10 years of trying to ski 80 days a season, while managing a fast growing business. 10 years of ups and downs, but more thankfully, more ups. 10 years of enjoying the journey.
From our first shop, which was a single car garage in Park City,Utah to expanding into another 9 locations, the journey and experiences with everyone involved has been truly remarkable.
When I came up with the idea for Ski Butlers, I was 22 years old, I was in college and I didn’t even have a computer. Keep in mind, this was a time when every 10 year old wasn’t walking around with an iPhone. What I did have however, was a super idea and a clean vision. Deliver ski rentals. Make the process simple. Focus on the customer service. Let the idea lead us.
I was so excited about the idea at the time that I had to force myself to stop working on it and enjoy my last month of college. I also couldn’t tell a soul. You know when your idea is so good, you can barely tell your family members? That is how I felt. It was so difficult to keep it in.
Once out of college, I had a couple of challenges. The first one was to find the time to work on Ski Butlers. Living in a family where taking risks and being an entrepreneur was a way of life, I had already purchased another business with a close friend called Park City Seal Coat. This was my summer time challenge while I was going to school. This challenge not only helped me prepare for Ski Butlers, it made me appreciate every aspect of life.
During the summer of 2004, I would work on Park City Seal Coat 4 – 5 days a week and work on Ski Butlers weekday nights and one full day a week. It killed me. I would be seal coating a driveway knowing that I had this awesome idea but couldn’t always work on it. But as they say, “cash is king,” so I had to work extra hard to run both companies.
As summer rolled into fall, Ski Butlers became more and more of a reality.
We created a website that launched in early October of 2004. For two weeks after it went live, I checked for a reservation every 90 seconds. That was a heartbreaker. I had created a website, a reservation system, a great idea and basically put an “open sign” up and no customers came rushing in. I began to doubt myself. Years later, I can laugh at this. Our average lead-time is 14 days and to this day, we only get a handful of reservations in October.
I can still remember our first customer. I was in the parking lot that is adjacent to our current Ski Butlers Park City shop. In fact, I can see this parking lot from my office window today. I was running to the printer to get business cards and the cell phone rang. I picked up the phone and spoke to the customer for 10 minutes.
The customer asked me question after question, all of which I sort of new the answer to but at the same time, I didn’t really. The customer did not book on the spot but said she would call back in a day with all the renters’ info. I got off the phone and I cried. It was such a relief that after all the hard work, all the risks, all the money spent, the anticipation, the selling, and excitement, I finally spoke to our first customer. I will never forget that moment.
A few months later, we successfully completed our first delivery to customers staying at the Park City Marriott in Prospector Square. This is the same hotel that we now share a parking lot with.
Over the course of the winter, we grew and we grew and we grew. I felt like I was on a rocket ship, with new surprises around each corner and no end to where we could go in sight. Working with our team, I was active on every aspect of the business. I learned so much and also realized that this idea was perhaps going to be even more successful than I originally thought.
I understood that standing in a ski rental line was not a fun experience. However, I did not understand how un-fun this experience really was. Our customers told us. They hugged us. They thanked us. They told their friends. They used us again and again.
We had solved a major, major problem. We needed to expand.
When you think of ski resorts, there is the grand daddy of them all. That is Vail, Colorado.
If we were going to expand, the first place to start was Vail. And so our expansion began and our story really started.
Over the next 8 seasons, we expanded into 9 new locations, serving over 35 ski resorts. Focusing on North American’s greatest ski resorts, our customers and our team members, we revolutionized the ski industry.
Where will the next ten years take Ski Butlers? I have always dreamed big but at the same time I like to keep things simple. At the heart of each decision will be what is best for our customers. If it is good for our customers, it will be a good for our company.
“Oh, the places we will go!”