Saturday, February 24, 2024

Clark Twiddy’s Insights on Crisis Management as President of Twiddy & Company

Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – Leadership in Times of Crisis
Today, we had the opportunity to interview Clark Twiddy who is a Presidentat Twiddy & Company.

Join us for an exclusive interview with Clark Twiddy, President of Twiddy & Company, as he shares his experiences and strategies for crisis management in the vacation rental industry. Discover the importance of open communication, building trust, and avoiding overcomplication during times of uncertainty.

Interviewee Name: Clark Twiddy

Company: Twiddy & Company

Clark Twiddy’s favourite quote: Serve others first. I first learned this while serving in the military, but think it applies broadly to all facets of life.

The Interview

Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?

Clark Twiddy : Twiddy & Company is the largest vacation rental company on North Carolina’s famed Outer Banks, managing more than 1,000 privately owned homes. I’m proud and humbled to serve as president of our second-generation family business.

I was born and raised in the Outer Banks. After attending college, I served in the US Navy and traveled around the world before returning home.

Since opening 45 years ago, our family-owned company has grown to partner with hundreds of homeowners and welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests annually to the Outer Banks.

I am an alumnus of the Virginia Military Institute, the University of Tennessee, and the Kellogg School of Management. I’m also honored to have served on the boards of private, public, government, and non-profit groups to include acting as the current chair of North Carolina’s Vacation Rental Management Association.

A passionate consumer of all things history, especially the history of the Outer Banks, I have written two books about this special place. My first book, “Memories of the Currituck Outer Banks: As Told by Ernie Bowden,” highlights how the Outer Banks became a popular destination thanks to the remarkable memories of a sixth-generation resident. My second book, “Outer Banks Visionaries: Building North Carolina’s Oceanfront,” shows the growth of this wonderful area to become known as “America’s Seashore.”

Most importantly, I am a proud father of two daughters. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time on the water and the guitar.

Could you please share a specific crisis situation you’ve faced as a leader and walk us through the strategies you employed to navigate through it successfully? What were the key decisions and actions you took, and what were the outcomes or lessons learned from that experience?

Clark Twiddy : A standout experience was when the bridges to access the Outer Banks closed in March 2020. That meant visitors could not enter or exit the barrier islands, and effectively shut down our visitor economy.

During that time, there were so many uncertainties. We had homeowners who weren’t sure if their houses could be rented out to vacationers, staff who weren’t sure what was going to happen, and our own leadership team who didn’t have all the answers either. During that time, we developed a simple framework: we’ll tell you what we know and we’ll tell you what we don’t know. That candid approach helped us navigate a difficult time when there were so many unknowns and built trust.

In fact, the one situation where I think we built trust the most rapidly is in being both candid and vulnerable with our homeowners in terms of what we thought might come next. In doing so, they sensed that we were being honest with them and in turn began to trust us more to navigate the closure.

When the bridges did reopen, we faced a different problem – demand much higher than levels we’d experienced. In a typical week, we’d receive about 3,000-5,000 calls. We had call volume as high as 20,000 calls in a week once the bridges reopened.

We again tried to lead with candor and transparency. We created videos for our guests explaining that we were aware of the long hold times and we were working on a solution as quickly as possible.

It is thanks to our amazing team that 2020 turned out to be a record-setting year. During that time, we saw firsthand the importance of open communication with customers and employees.

From your observations, what common mistakes or pitfalls have you seen leaders fall into during a crisis?

Clark Twiddy : Overcomplicate things. In times of crisis, there can be an impulse to iterate and reiterate until perfection is achieved. However, when things are constantly changing like in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be better to briefly communicate what you know and what you don’t know. That simple framework can work wonders in building trust.

Speaking of trust, surround yourself with people who you trust will give you honest feedback in good situations and bad. It’s especially crucial in times of crisis to have people who will share their perceptions with you, and leaders must cultivate those types of relationships outside of crises as well.

Leaders Perception would like to thank Clark Twiddy and Twiddy & Company for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

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