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Robert Murphy Crafts A Culture Of Success

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When Robert Murphy took control of the Dayton Dragons nearly 20 years ago, the club was an idea. The ballpark hadn’t been built. But Murphy was confident that his Midwest League club would adhere to a few core principles.

  • The Dragons would offer great family entertainment.
  • The Dragons would offer affordable products.
  • The Dragons would have unsurpassed customer service.
  • The Dragons would impact the community
  • The Dragons would create impactful sponsorships for corporate sponsors.

“When you look at what we decided 20 years ago would be our guiding lights, it has stayed exactly the same,” said Murphy, the team’s president.

The Dragons opened their gates for the first time in April 2000. The Reds’ low Class A affiliate has sold out every game since.

There is nothing about Murphy’s mission statement that would seem out of place for any minor league team. But there’s a difference between having goals and having cornerstones.

Take customer service. It’s impossible to find businesses that don’t at least pay lip service to making customers feel welcome and appreciated. But the moment a fan walks into Fifth Third Field, it’s clear that the Dragons’ staff pay attention to the smallest details.

That’s something the organization stresses in hirings. They look to attract problem-solvers who want the freedom to do their job exceptionally well.

“If you want to be great at what you do, we tell them, this will be an amazing fit for you,” Murphy said. “We will constantly challenge you and make you grow. If you don’t have that gear, this will be the worst place you have ever landed in your life. You will be nothing but frustrated. You will feel like it’s never good enough.”

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Any time a fan reaches out to compliment the Dragons’ customer service, the Dragons save it. All voicemails are transcribed. All emails are printed. All letters are saved. Murphy has binders full of these notes. And new hires read some of them to understand just how important customer service is.

“I’ve always told people: ‘Start with solving the problem. Treat people the way you would like to be treated,’ ” Murphy said. “For us, we want to take a completely different approach. My game day staff comes from all these jobs with all kinds of rules. Here they feel free and liberated to be in this environment. I told them, ‘If you solve the problem, and I think you have gone too far, I will reign you back in.’ In 19 years I’ve never had to reign them in.”

When everyone is given the authority to help customers, problems are solved quickly. And fans notice.

“Twenty years ago, we said we want to be seen as one of the greatest franchises in all of professional sports,” Murphy said. “We’re not satisfied with being a great Class A baseball team. That’s what happens when you do everything else properly and pay attention to details.”

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