Do it like Disney

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119

Well, who ever came up with "It's a small world after all," didn't envision what Disney World would become. It is huge (forty square miles huge). My wife and I had the privilege of accompanying my son, his girlfriend and my favorite granddaughter to Disney World yesterday. This was a first for all of us. Because of that, we had no idea what to expect.

As a business owner, I'm always looking at how successful businesses operate to get ideas for my own business. Compared to Disney, my company would fit in one of the teacup ride cups, but the principles that make Disney great can make any business great. There were a few major things I noticed through the experience.

1. If you're on time, you're late. This morning, I dropped my son off at the Animal Kingdom thirty minutes before the park opened. The line was already a 30 minute wait. In business, customers expect results now. With our 24 hour news cycle, instant messaging, social media updates in seconds and text messages, clients and customers are no longer accustomed to waiting. 

We have become an instant gratification society, and time truly is money. Don't believe me? The next time you get an Internet lead, call them in less than 5 minutes and see what happens. You're likely to get the client. Call them in 30 minutes, and they have already reached out to 5-6 other agents. It really does move that fast.

If you're late for an appointment, don't apologize when you arrive. Rather, say, "Thank you for waiting." Make it a positive rather than a negative. People appreciate it when you recognize their contribution to a matter. That simple "thank you" can be disarming. Better yet, be a little early. It's OK to wait for the client. 

2. Every staff member is a piece of your marketing. I can't even imagine how many staff members I came across yesterday. It may have been 1000+ (62,000+ in FL Disney), but not a single one was rude, short in their responses or showed any signs of fatigue, irritation or agitation. Everyone was polite, fresh and friendly. They acted like every park visitor was the first person they saw that day, and they were happy to have them visit. 

When you or your staff answers the phone, what does the person on the other end take away from the call. "Whew! That guy was rude! How does he stay in business?" "She was so sweet and on top of things. That makes me want to work with her." It doesn't matter that you just wrecked your car on the way to work. It doesn't matter than your baby was up all night and you didn't get any sleep.

Do you think everyone of those Disney employees really lives in a magic kingdom? No, they live with barfing babies, high electric bills, short nights, long days and a host of things that every person you come in contact with lives with. Is it an act at Disney? Probably for some. Are they good at it? The best. Some days, you're going to have to put on your mask and be that person you wish you were doing business with, because the person you woke up as doesn't have the juice to meet the public. That's OK some of the time. That's real life.

3. The customer was just as important at the end of the day as at the beginning of the day. On the way out of the park, a cute young woman had one large Mickey Mouse glove on one hand waving to everyone as they exited the park. She had a great smile, a pleasant presence and a kind word on the exit. She wanted everyone to know she appreciated their time in the park and she encouraged them to come back again. 

Remember, clients are clients all the way through closing. But, it doesn't stop there. They have friends, family and co-workers. They are your greatest source of new leads. A referral is the highest compliment a client can offer you. If you did your job well, but you dropped your client like a hot potato five minutes after closing, they'll notice. The silence will be deafening. 

It pays dividends to keep in contact. Send an occasional text. Call, email, send a note, but whatever you do, find a way to stay in touch. I would imagine 40-50% of my business each year comes directly from past clients and their referrals. It isn't unusual for me to text a client out of the blue. Ironically, my clients seem to have the same philosophy. I get hundreds of texts a year from past clients just checking in. Some text for advice, guidance or recommendations for contractors. It doesn't matter to me, it's a contact. When I can provide a good recommendation, I just added value to our relationship, and it shows.

There are so many more lessons I learned at Disney yesterday, and maybe I'll share some more latter, but suffice to say, it really is a Magic Kingdom that has found the secret to drawing people from all over the world. And, when they arrive, they are the most important people in the world. So are your clients. 


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Francine Viola
Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Olympia WA - Olympia, WA
REALTOR®, In Tune with your Real Estate Needs

Hi Mike - these are really great observations and correlations to what we do in our businesses, and good advice we need to follow!

Nov 08, 2018 03:40 PM #2
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

You are a very observant person, Mike.  And, many lessons have likely been learned because you are.  That little cutie with her face painted is precious.  I love how the painting on her face matches her dress.

Nov 08, 2018 04:12 PM #3
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

CONGRATULATIONS Mike, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Nov 08, 2018 04:13 PM #4
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Mike.

We've been there three times.  Regardless, we feel we are one of the most important people in the world to them.  Carol Williams, here you go

Nov 09, 2018 02:13 AM #5
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Disney has the machine going pretty well with everything we have going on in multiple sectors and they seem to actually care about their image enough to do the right things.

Nov 09, 2018 11:41 PM #7
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

So many good points here it is hard to just focus on one! I bookmarked this to save and share with my newest agent and even more important my font office staff.  Making people feel important and just being nice is crucial all the way!

thank you 

Nov 10, 2018 12:29 AM #8
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

I totally agree with all your takeaways. I was very impressed by the way Disney operates their parks. They try to make everything simple and fun for anyone who visits. If you purchase something in the park, it's delivered to your hotel room. Very neat.

The only complaint I had about Disney was that unless you wanted to grab something quick at a kiosk, eating dinner anywhere is a pain in the butt - you need reservations days or weeks or even longer before your visit. I'm sure there's a real estate rule in that somewhere also! 

Nov 10, 2018 03:45 AM #9
Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector
SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno - Bourbonnais, IL
The Home Inspector With a Heart!

Our family has only been to Disney once, and our kids still talk about it like it was yestederday. Best family vacation ever, and that was 18 years ago. I think we need to go back someday soon.

Nov 10, 2018 03:53 AM #10
Eric J
Eric J - Dream Home Financing - Freehold, NJ
Dream Home Financing

Mike, very nice post. I had the benefit of having Disney as a customer for over 7 years. I was able to see how the operate intimately. They are truly an amazing organization. I will share just one example for your readers. The Magic Kingdom was built up above the normal ground height. Below they have tunnels which run below most of the park. They shuttle all of the food supplies (for example) beneath and then up right into the foodservice operations. This is why you never see an employee pushing a hand truck with boxes of hamburgers in between where the guests are walking. They also use those tunnels for the employees to walk to the location where they are working that day.

Nov 10, 2018 04:29 AM #11
John Henry
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Yes, Disney has some great lessons to learn.  It is a well-oiled machine supported by $millions in studies on family psychology, entertainment, education, crowd formation, behavior in queuing, etc.  Best time to go there is November through March weather-wise.

A sobering backstory is told by a worker bee relative: He sees the buses bringing in the low-level workers who all look wiped out from the day before and then forced to smile as they go through the gates.  Part of the contract.

I do agree with the observation about responding to internet leads.  If you don't get back to someone right away they have continued to research and have others to contact while waiting for you to respond.  The early bird gets the worm I guess.

I designed this house for the head of PR out there about twenty years ago:

Nov 10, 2018 07:46 AM #12
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I agree with their philosophy and despite the fact I livedf the rides at Univeral better, Disney World always made sure you were happy and isn't that what we should do for our clients.

Nov 10, 2018 08:15 AM #13
Stephen Turner
TriCorner Homes (TriCorner Realty) - York, PA

Great post and so glad the family got to experience Disney world. You touch on some great Disney points and also, there is a great book with even more pointers on the same subject. It's Titled: Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell who also ran Disney World operations for over a decade. It's an amazing book or perfect for your next audible credit (that's how I roll!)

Nov 10, 2018 08:54 AM #14
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Mike- could not agree more!  Larry was lucky enough to take the Disney management course there many years ago and learned quite a bit. EVERYTHING is taken into consideration to make sure that their guests have an enjoyable experience. 

Nov 10, 2018 09:25 AM #15
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Good morning Mike, Disney is the king of marketing. We can all learn from watching how they operate!

Nov 10, 2018 09:42 AM #16
Gordon Crawford
Gordon Crawford Home Selling Team - Morristown, NJ
Your Morris County Specialist!

Fantastic post Mike!  Disney does a great job because they do exactly what you said.  Important to keep that in mind when the transaction gets tough

Nov 10, 2018 10:30 AM #17
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Had to chuckle about that long line before Disney park opened--that is something I remember when I took my kids!  I will say that every time I have visited one of their parks, I felt it was worth the price--the friendliness, the cleanliness, atmosphere, even food is good!  ALways enjoy suspending reality for a bit!

Nov 10, 2018 01:01 PM #18
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I'm quite excited to be in Orlando and going to Disney Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this coming week! I've been many times but the last time was many years ago. The first time was 40 years ago for our honeymoon!

Nov 10, 2018 01:37 PM #19
Nicole Nark
Nicole Nark - Pixel Properties - Little Rock, AR
Real estate agent serving Central Arkansas

Great post Mike! I love your takeaways and am thankful that you took the time to share! 

Nov 11, 2018 03:08 PM #20
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

Thanks for the post! I enjoyed the comparison to our business. I just got home from PA and drove through your next of the woods earlier this evening!

Nov 11, 2018 06:23 PM #21
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Congrats and kudso on this well deserved featured post.  Love your analogy of Disney and how to run a business, especially as to how to arrive late and say "Thanks for waiting."  That's classy! 

Nov 13, 2018 06:28 PM #22
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