ballpark experience

Jeannie and Adam interview Savannah Bananas owner Jesse Cole, whose transformation of the ballpark experience has turned an underdog sports team into a booming business.

About our guest

Jesse is the Owner of Fans First Entertainment, who owns and operates the Savannah Bananas and the Gastonia Grizzlies. Cole and his teams have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, and multiple times on ESPN. Cole is an in-demand speaker and author of “Find Your Yellow Tux- How to Be Successful by Standing Out” released in January 2018.

The Savannah Bananas have sold out 32 straight games, broke the league attendance record, Savannah attendance record and have a waiting list in the thousands for tickets for the 2018 season. The Bananas have won Organization of the Year back to back years, Entrepreneur of the Year and were CPL Champions in their first year.

Cole believes to be successful you need to Stand Out and Be Different.

He writes a blog, hosts a podcast and releases daily videos on He is passionate about creating attention, loving your customers more than your product and loving your employees more than your customers. Cole’s mantra is “Whatever’s normal, do the exact opposite.”

Connect with Jesse

What can you learn from this amazing ballpark experience?

Have you ever felt like the underdog in your industry, having a smaller brand that barely gets noticed?  Then we have an inspiring interview that proves you can still be the underdog while building a loyal following of customers and fans. In fact, our guest is living testimony that HUGE things do come out of small packages.

Meet Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas. What, you’ve never heard of them? Well, most people haven’t… but that’s not stopping them from breaking records with ticket and merchandise sales! The Savannah Bananas often sell out tickets to their seasonal games and have a fan base that’s engaged year-round.

So how do they do it?

Jesse has found amazing ways to build a culture around a “fans-first” mentality that lives in every corner of the organization. As a result, the team has found clever ways to neutralize the pain points typically associated with baseball. But it gets better… Those previously dull or frustrating moments are now filled with moments of delight, bringing a unique, entertaining and endearing experience to every moment of every game.

Anchored to a culture of outstanding customer service and innovative ways to proactively engage fans, the internal experience of the Savannah Bananas is just as outstanding (and outrageous!) as the fan experience. In fact, due to Jesse’s innovative approach at hiring, training, and compensating them, employees are just as loyal as the fans!

Would you like to build a culture and experience that turns your small business into a huge success? Then you need to listen to some of the crazy but powerful ways Jesse has knocked small business success and fandom way out of the park.

Interview Highlights

  • Jesse went from living on an air bed to owning a multi-million-dollar team in one year! So, how did this happen? [4:20]
  • Jesse explains how a “low-level” college summer baseball team like the Savannah Bananas can outsell higher-profile events. [7:20]
  • How does Jesse execute on the “love your customers more than you love your product” mentality? Moreover, how has he “cracked the customer code!?” [10:20]
  • How does Jesse find and train the right people to build a culture that turns up the volume on emotional connections? [13:27]
  • Savannah Bananas employees rock the “fans first” mentality, but what about the players? [17:40]
  • So, which came first – the Savannah Bananas name, or Jesse’s yellow tuxedo? [19:27]
  • What’s the #1 thing any business can learn from Jesse and the Savannah Bananas? [21:25]

Listen To This Episode!

Sponsor Message:

Learn customer experience from a certified pro with Jeannie’s new LinkedIn Learning course!

Welcome from Creating a Positive Customer Experience by Jeannie Walters

Related content


Take care of yourself and take care of your customers.