LeBron James, Disney World and your Failing Business – Guest Post
January 6, 2009 by The Constant Complainer
Welcome to the award winning blog of The Constant Complainer.
Here at The Constant Complainer, in addition to my own posts, readers can submit Guest Posts on topics they would like to complain about. Neo Con Don submitted the below-Guest Post. His complaint is the poorly managed business. Enjoy and without further adieu, here’s Don…
I believe that poorly managed businesses must be allowed to fail. They should fail in the same way inventors fail, and athletes fail. They should fail in the same way children fail as they are learning to ride a two-wheel bicycle or begin to roller skate. The successful ones get back up and try again with more focus and more wisdom. Failure leads to great successes…just ask Thomas Edison.
I am from and (stupidly) still live in Cleveland, OH. I am not a LeBron James fan. However, he had a great Nike commercial running last year that I loved. It was him making basketball moves with the different jerseys he wore during his life telling those who admire him “you don’t want to be me…you want to be better than me.” Click here to view the commercial. That message sums up something very important.
Last week I took my family to Disney World for the first time, and I experienced an epiphany about business and service. I’m a value and service oriented person. I expect the service and value to be equal to what I perceive I’m paying for. I knew going in to this that the Disney Parks were extremely service oriented, but I admit that I did not expect what I received.
Here’s how I would sum it all up: If you own a business and are not reaching your goals, you need to visit the Magic Kingdom immediately. If there were a recession out there anywhere in the world, you would not know it if you were at Disney World on December 29, 2008. There were thousands waiting to get through the gate at 7am, and the park was so full by noon that people were being turned away. Inside the park, everything is setup so you can get from one section to another quickly (except for having to get around all of the people). With a temperature at nearly 85 degrees by 10am, everyone had shed their long sleeve tee shirts and was hoping to get some sun on their faces and (very) white legs…
You might be asking ‘what was so special about my trip to The Magic Kingdom that can change a failing business?’ Simple. Every single aspect of my day was stress free…AT AN AMUSMENT PARK! You did not need to look far to find an employee, and every single one of them knew exactly where ANYTHING in the park was located, including where to find a bag of pink cotton candy at midnight. They have a system called ‘Fast Pass’ set up that allows you to avoid standing in line for attractions at no additional cost…standing in line is always an annoying thing to do, especially with children.
Anyone that has children hates eating in amusement parks. The food is always expensive and if you can actually find a table, they are filthy. Not at Disney World. We went to one of the indoor sit down restaurants for lunch, and paid a reasonable price for a significant amount of food…equal to what it would cost me to take my family of 6 to Applebees. While I waited for the food, my wife went to find a table. In this restaurant, there were a dozen “helpers” there to help find a table, and make to sure it is clean before you sat down to eat. In the mean time, the cast member behind the counter realized that I was going to have difficulty carrying all of the food and herd my three children through the large and growing crowd, so he helped me! I have never experienced that at any theme park before. After we finished eating, the same helper that cleaned our table took our tray from us, and we were off to experience more magic.
We spent the day moving quickly from one attraction to the other taking full advantage of the Fast Pass system and seeing the group attractions while we waited for our Fast Passes to “mature.” Because we visited during the holidays, we were there during expanded hours, and my wife and 3 children took full advantage of 16 hours of Magic Kingdom bliss. Even during an incident where a ride broke down (while we were on it), the Disney Staff made it seem like not a big deal at all, and dozens of them immediately dealt with the situation to make sure we were calm and to explain what would happen next.
The cost to enter the Magic Kingdom for my family of two adults and 3 children was $361.06. I was so impressed with the staff, the cleanliness, the ease of getting from one place to the other, and the amazing detail of every attraction, walkway, bridge and railing that if halfway through the day a Disney manager came up to my family and told us that we used up the entire entrance fee, and in order to stay we’d need to pay more money, I not only would have agreed, but I would have pulled out my money clip and asked “how much?”
If you own a business, you can add value to your product and service by trying to figure out how to get your customers to be willing to pay more for the exact same product or service. The best way to do that is to get your customers to expect a specific level of service, and then exceed that level. The Magic Kingdom has managed to do just that. I walked away getting more value from the products and services offered by The Magic Kingdom than what I paid for them, and I hope they made a good profit from my patronage. That is a win-win trade agreement. If you own a business, you don’t want to be the Magic Kingdom, you want to be better than the Magic Kingdom…good luck with that.
By the 17th hour, we were getting very tired and we were ready to catch the ferryboat to the parking lot and then had a 45-minute drive back to my mom’s house. We started to make our way toward the front of the park to do some souvenir shopping and to find that cotton candy for a very happy 4 year old. I told my wife that I wanted to move south and get a job here at Disney. While she agreed it was a wonderful day, and it was amazing watching our children react to the experience, she would miss our friends at home, and would even miss the snow at Christmas.
As we turned the corner from Adventure Land onto Main Street USA, we were amazed by the perfect 80 degree weather at midnight, the beautiful Christmas Lights and wreaths stretching from one side of the street to the other, and the thousands of people still shopping while Christmas carols played. I looked at my exhausted kids still wanting to take in the magic of the day, and then I looked at my wife. She was looking up into the sky in absolute awe. It was snowing…