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.