The exuberant Michael Crank has joined SSDM, bringing with him a toolkit chock-full of Grade-A customer service skills, a network of diverse connections and a passion for marketing.
Cruising into a career opportunity
While we all love a good underdog story, Michael Crank is much more than a success story of a dishwasher-turned-manager. Though Michael started out washing dishes for his family’s catering business as a teen, he quickly rose in the ranks to become a figure in the Metro Detroit hospitality industry. His story is truly unique, from taking over the family business, to luxury dining sales manager, to marketing expert — and we have yet to see a mountain that he can’t climb. *Cue the “Eye of the Tiger”*
His story starts at Central Michigan University. After graduating with a major in hospitality, he landed the internship opportunity of a lifetime: Vagabond Cruises. So, Michael packed up and moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where he absorbed as much industry knowledge as possible. The young, ambitious Michael Crank quickly rose up the ranks to become the sales leader.
Thanks to his efforts, the business grew tremendously because of its superb customer service and his newest marketing idea — the addition of the (in)famous “Dolphin Guarantee.” If you didn’t see a dolphin on a Vagabond Cruise, the next one was free.
Here’s a little secret — it was a pretty safe bet since dolphins are plentiful in the Calibogue Sound, but the idea alone made customers eager to book a cruise.
Flexibility and career changes
After six years with the cruise line, Michael came home to become vice president of sales and marketing for the family business — Crank’s Catering. He helped land corporate food service contracts for conference center meetings and executive working lunches.
Tapping into his penchant for marketing, Michael redesigned the Crank’s Catering website, developed its social media presence, and built its roster of glowing reviews to broaden the company’s client base and “take the seasonality out” of the catering business cycle.
“I have led or collaborated on marketing strategies at every step of my career. Marketing is just in my DNA,” said Michael. “At the end of the day, I ‘fill my cup’ by being able to serve others and I knew it was time to put those tools to work in new ways.”
After getting a taste of the marketing world, Crank took on a number of hospitality management positions, including sales manager at Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão and the esteemed Royal Park Hotel. By the time he became the group sales manager at Fogo do Chão, he was an accomplished sales and marketing leader who truly understood the importance of the customer experience. Michael was quickly promoted to a multi-state management role, spending four years advocating for the brand and filling the restaurant with unique corporate events.
Then, he was ready for the next big career move. With a reputation for luxurious guest experiences, the Royal Park Hotel in downtown Rochester, Michigan, is a hospitality executive’s dream come true.
Growing through trying times
Early in 2020, events were booked solid and first-quarter projections were looking good. Then COVID-19 hit. Things changed in an instant and Michael had to think quickly on his feet to fill the gap left after the sales and marketing team was furloughed.
Again, Michael went above and beyond simply being a sales manager. He created stylish outdoor cabana areas for small events and even launched an innovative concert series to bring people together safely on the hotel’s balconies. He was able to face these challenges and find ways to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
But why is Michael’s hospitality experience valuable for a marketing agency? What consumers expect from a restaurant experience certainly varies depending on the restaurant type, but there are some fundamentals that separate great restaurant experiences from unforgettable ones.
Michael’s ability to define the factors that make for an exceptional customer experience made him successful in his past, and the perfect fit for a client experience manager at SSDM. For instance, you don’t just get 4,000 followers on LinkedIn without the ability to connect and motivate people.
His mastery of the fundamentals in hospitality management and experience cutting his teeth on branding projects for Crank’s Catering were the catalysts that jump-started his marketing career. His radiant personality was quickly, and enthusiastically, embraced by our team.
“It’s been awesome to work in such different industries and learn from countless great leaders. I took every chance I could to expand my tool belt with universal skills and that helped make my transitions from industry to industry seamless.”
Lifelong skills, new direction
It was his dedication to customer service and passion for marketing that led Michael to his next adventure: managing the client experience for one of the largest accounts at SSDM. With a focus on cultivating valuable partnerships and long-term client relationships, he saw the obvious parallels and exciting opportunities to glean from his areas of expertise.
For Michael, the most exhilarating part of this new role with us is being able to continually look beyond the sales world to unlock other creative parts of his brain and influence the growth of both the client and our team members.
Fun fact: His favorite ice cream flavor is Ben + Jerry’s Phish Food. Look it up. It’s decadent and complex. A sophisticated taste. We’d expect nothing less from Michael Crank.