Hello hello! Karen Greenoe Here! On today’s episode of The Biz Balance Podcast we are going to be going through the important business lessons I’ve learned from the happiest place on earth. That’s right, today, we are talking about DISNEY WORLD!
If you’ve known me or any member of my family for more than about five minutes, you’d know that we are big fans of everything Disney. The music, the movies, the toys, everything. And yes, the costumes too! There is lots of dress up that happens in our house. In fact, our family Halloween costumes have been Disney centric for the past three years. Two years ago we donned Little Mermaid attire (Giles was of course Ariel, George was Prince Eric and I was a VERY pregnant Ursula…my scheduled C section with Mills was the next day! Honestly, I’m not even sure how I walked around the neighborhood being that pregnant!) Last year we dressed up as the Incredibles and this year we were at the cast of Disney’s Tangled. Giles picked our costumes so of course she was Rapunzel. Mills, our younger daughter, was Pascal, complete with a tiny tiara, George was Flynn Rider. And of course I was the queen! When it came time to decide what my mother-in-law was going to dress up as Sweet Giles suggested she dress up as Rapunzel‘s hair! We quickly vetoed that and the alternative was was for her to dress up as a floating lantern. I don’t know where she gets these ideas from but they’re pretty darn adorable! You should check out the show notes if you want to see a picture of our family Halloween costume from this year! Pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself!
It is no secret that the Greenoe family is a pretty big fan of Disney World as well. In fact, George and I got married there! Now before you go thinking that we are total super fans, I will tell you we are not. The main reason for us choosing Disney World for our wedding was because of the customer experience. Since I am in the wedding industry and knew the ins and outs of everything involved with planning and executing a wedding, even a small one like ours, I knew I wanted an experience that was easy and reliable from start to finish. We’ve seen everything that can go wrong behind the scenes and we wanted to get married somewhere where they had weddings down to a SCIENCE. Their system is so airtight that we used to joke that if our wedding cake fell over, they would have 10 back ups waiting for us to take its place! Thankfully the cake didn’t fall over so we never got to test that theory. The fact is, the Disney parks collectively host over 4,000 weddings per year so they know a thing or two about throwing a great party. George and I planned our entire wedding in four hours. Yep, you heard me right! FOUR. HOURS. We sat down with our coordinator and went through the entire checklist: music, flowers, cake, linens, even had our tasting in the event kitchen at Epcot in less than half of a working day. It was a little overwhelming, even for someone like me who knows the ins and outs of what is required to plan a wedding, but the system they had in place was astounding. It was truly a well oiled machine.
All wedding funness aside, I want to dive into some of the key things that Disney World does exceptionally well. For each item, I’ll walk you through ways you can apply these concepts to your own business to make each sale, each client interaction and each experience just a little more magical. Now, whether you are a Disney fan or not, you have to admit that they pretty much have customer service on lock and there is a lot we can all learn from their business practices. In fact, a number of leadership summits and entrepreneurial conferences have been created around Disney’s business philosophy. Whether you are a Disney fan or not, there’s a lot we can learn! So let’s jump right into my favorite Disney-fied business practices that you can adapt and make your own. Let’s do this!
Disney-fied tip #1: Create a magical experience in the details. Whether you’ve been to Disney World recently or not, you know that the experience is pure magic…especially for children. There is wonder at every turn! From the costumes to the music to the architecture and everything in between, the smallest details are intentionally designed to make you feel something magical. And it is more than just a surface level experience too. The Hidden Mickey’s throughout the park keep you on a constant treasure hunt. Exchanging pins with the staff of the little gift shops. Even the name of the wristbands for your park access called “Magic Bands” make you feel like magic is truly possible. The mundane is given a feeling of magic to create an experience at every turn.
In an interview with Fast Company, Lee Cockerell, a former executive with the park, states this attention to detail is practically a religion. Disney is so committed to creating a magical experience that books have been written on the topic!
So what can you do in your own business to create a magical experience? What can you do to give that extra little sprinkle of pixie dust into everything you do? Well, I’ll tell you what we do. From the moment we greet a potential client at the door, they are greeted with warmth and welcome. We set out flowers. We offer them a bottle of water with a Lily Greenthumb’s branded coozie. We have a floral-scented candle burning. We have upbeat yet classy music playing in our consult space. The chandeliers in our studio are sparkling. Phones are silenced. From the moment a client steps into our studio, they are our sole focus. They know they are taken care of before they pay us a single dollar. These details will set you apart from your competition and create a memorable and more importantly, positive experience.
Disney-fied tip #2: Always have a back up plan. You heard me joke about the ten backup cakes we probably had on our wedding day, just in case, but there was a little level of truth to that. When our wedding planner pinned on my father-in-law’s boutonniere, he lifted his arm to wave at someone only seconds later and snapped off one of the orchid petals. Within seconds, he had a replacement boutonniere. Ever since, we’ve always included at least one back-up boutonniere in all of our wedding orders. The truth is, things happen and the most important thing to keep in mind is that your clients will always remember how you handled it. Taking that extra little step, often at very minimal cost to you, means the world to your client.
As another level of service, make sure everyone on your team is very familiar with these back up plans. When something doesn’t go according to planned, and trust me friends, it happens, nothing will set your client’s nerves on edge more than a panicked look on one of your team member’s faces as they run off to find you. Make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Tip #3: Stay in character. No matter what. So funny story. Years ago, prior to us having kiddos, George and I were in Disney and one of the first characters we met for a photo opp were Cinderella’s evil stepsisters. I bounced on up to them to snap a picture and have what I thought was going to be the typical Disney experience. They’d give me a hug, we’d smile for the camera, exchange some pleasantries, but I was WRONG. Y’all, they were straight up MEAN. They immediately started making fun of what I was wearing, talking back to me, and at one point, refused to take a picture with us. I know it sounds silly, but I walked away from that experience a little shaken. I was definitely not prepared for my first Disney “villain” experience! As I walked away, after I took a few moments to recover I thought to myself “daaaaang they were good!” These girls did not break character for one second! Even though this bubbly little redhead bounced up to them all full of cheer, they didn’t let it shake them. They were so in character that my demeanor had no effect on them. Their role was to play the bad guy and dang, they did it well!
So how does this apply to you? It means that you ALWAYS must be on brand when you are representing your company. No matter what your clients throw at you, remember that you are representing an entity far bigger than you are. Your actions and reactions to their energy directly reflect on your company. You will have people or experiences that throw you off. You will have push back, but stay in character.
I think this goes a little further too. I’ve seen more times than I care to mention on social media where small business owners are posting or engaging in polarizing conversations in a public forum. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that speaking your mind is important, as is attracting and repelling, but is worth the risk of pushing away a potential client who could have been a good fit just because you made some off-handed remark about politics, religion, gender, race, etc? I think not. Some of my favorite clients over the years have had very different viewpoints and lifestyles than I have. And that is ok!
Tip #4: Show the magic, hide the logistics. I’ve had the pleasure of being in Disney World several times during the fall to Christmas changeover. And let me tell you, it is pure Disney magic! You go to sleep one night and you wake up the next morning and BAM! Christmas is everywhere! I don’t know how those little Disney elves do it, but it is truly incredible. Just one more thing that creates wonder in the hearts of their guests. Every single tree, wreath and garland is magically placed overnight. It was as if Mary Poppins herself pulled everything out of her magic carpet bag, clapped her hands twice and spit spot, there it was! By contrast, we also visited another park during this same time, which will not be named but did have very fun, thrill-seeking rides, and they had crates and crates of holiday decor scattered throughout the park for at least a week while they decorated.
I’ll also note that how they do construction and maintenance in the Disney parks is also truly incredible to me. Y’all, whether you know it or not, there is ALWAYS construction going on at Disney World. But they hide it so well that you would never know! Printed covers that look like the original buildings to cover scaffolding, redirected walkways and after hours work hides the magic so seamlessly behind the scenes that you’d never know it was there!
You can apply these same principles to your business too. I know you are treading water like mad under the surface, but take a few deep breaths and take the time to show your clients the calm and collected entrepreneur that you really are. Reaffirm to them that they made a good investment in you and your services. Show them that you have your act together and you will take care of them. I had a makeup artist a few years ago pull me aside after a wedding delivery and she said “Karen, you are always such a breath of fresh air when you come to deliver the bride’s bouquet! I know you are probably running like crazy, but the air of tranquility that comes off of you is so refreshing! The clients can really feel it!” So, no matter how crazy things are or how harried I may be, I always do my best to make sure that the client doesn’t feel that stress. There is plenty of other stress that they have to deal with without taking on any of mine!
My last Disney-fied tip is the most fun. And that is to surprise and delight. Find small, often mundane ways to take your clients off guard in a delightful way. On our most recent Disney trip, we were standing outside of the Emporium in the Magic Kingdom when a group of four Disney employees ran up to the door with a roll of masking tape. They proceeded to make a square of masking tape on the pavement in front of the door. Every time someone would step into the square, they would cheer and whoop until the person stepped out of the box. Some people stepped in by accident for one second and quickly jumped out when the crowd started cheering. Some, like my dear daughter Giles, danced in the box for a full five minutes, loving every second of the attention. Mills, was so adorably cautious that she wouldn’t set foot in the box! If you want to see these adorable videos, check them out in the show notes at bizbalancepodcast.com/disney. But something as simple as a box made of masking tape was enough to get guests to pause and delight in the moment. Outside of the box thinking, for sure! Pun fully intended!
Again, these surprising and delighting things don’t have to be expensive. They only take a little creative, out of the box thinking. But they are an opportunity to make your clients take pause and remember that they made a good choice when they decided to work with you.
One way we surprise and delight our clients is to include branded paper hand towels with their bouquets so they won’t get their dress wet. It is not a huge investment, but the response is almost always “oh my goodness! How thoughtful!” Get creative. Think outside the box and continue to delight your clients. They will keep coming back for more and sharing with their friends and family all about the incredible experience they had working with you.
So, to recap, my Disney-fied business tips that you can apply today are:
There you have it! If you loved this episode and want to spread a little pixie dust of your own, leave a review and share it with a friend! I cannot wait to hear from you! Until next time!
November 29, 2019