I’m headed out the door to catch a plane to Washington DC, but I wanted to share an experience with you that I thought was really cool AND has a great lesson for any entrepreneur (and you can see a picture of me without a hat on).
Last week we took a summer vacation and went to Hawaii. (In case you were wondering, yes, I willingly trapped myself on a plane for nearly 7 hours with all 5 of my kids). We stayed in Oahu for an entire week at the Disney Resort Aulani and it was awesome!
Before I left I was doing my usual cramming to get work done so I could be gone. And as usual, there were some things that were piling up and I was thinking I would just steal a little bit of time in the mornings to get it done while I was gone.
But then I remembered everything we had been talking about regarding being busy, etc. so I decided I would commit myself to actually disconnecting from the business and enjoying a vacation. So I promised my team that if I took my computer with me, I would write each of them a check for $100.
Some of them were proud of me, while others I think were secretly pulling for me to take my computer… 😉
Anyway, I did end up leaving my computer home and ignoring my phone for the entire week, and in case you missed what I said a few lines above, it was AWESOME!! (There’s an entire set of emails about what I learned by disconnecting but that’s for another time).
Today I want to share with you what happened when I went to check in.
So we rolled up to the resort, and it had about a 200 yard “driveway” that led up to the entrance of the resort. So we pull up the driveway and get to the top, and there’s a Disney employee (let’s call him #1) waiting just at the end of the driveway and right before the “unloading zone” (in other words, the main covered area where you would normally get out of your car and enter the resort).
He stops us there and asks for our name, which I give him. There were a few cars in the “unloading zone”, so I’m guessing he’s just having us wait to pull up until some of them clear out. So we’re still all in the car and he starts shooting the breeze with me, which I don’t mind at all.
Then after about 2 minutes I realize that there are only maybe 2 cars in the unloading zone (which could easily fit 10-15 cars) and we’re still kicking it out here talking to the Disney employee. So he walks to the front of our luxurious minivan and I hear him radio something into his mic and he mentions my name.
Immediately my geeky business radar goes off. It’s not lost on me that Disney is well known for having its crap together, so I’m starting to play out all the different scenarios in my mind about why he’s holding me, Brigett (my wife), and my 5 kids in the car, 20 feet away from our highly anticipated vacation.
After about 2-3 more minutes of chatting, and him going to the front of the car and radioing some message into his mic, he finally lets us through and directs us to another Disney employee (we’ll call him #2). So we pull forward and park and start piling out. #2 informs us that valet parking and self parking are both the same price, so I decide to valet the car (no brainer right?). Before taking our wheels away (to go on some glorious joy ride through the back roads of Hawaii with the top down… oh wait…), #2 guides us over to another Disney employee (#3) standing just outside the entrance to the resort.
#3 welcomes the Martineau family by name (without asking our name) and gives us the traditional necklaces (manly looking wood one for me, flowers for Brigett, and some smaller ones for the kids). Then #3 asks the kids what their names are. Remember, I have 5 kids. For some, it would be a futile effort to even try and remember 5 kids names. So we roll down the list from oldest to youngest: Maddie – daughter, Peyton – daughter, Koen – son, Braden – son, and Landen – son.
Finally after some more small talk, we get to enter the resort. By this time (6.5 hours of flying, 1 hour to get our rental car, 30 minute drive to the resort, and about 10 minutes to actually get to this front door) Braden, the 7 year old, has to go to the bathroom. So just after we enter the resort, Brigett and Braden are guided to the bathrooms while I follow #3 to the registration desk.
Just before we get to the registration desk, there’s a little room with some chairs and the Disney channel playing. And this is where it gets interesting. #3 turns around and says:
“Okay, so who do we have here?” And then (without any prompting) points to each child and calls them by name “Madison, Peyton, Koen, and Landen. You can come hang out over here and watch the Disney channel while Dad checks in.” She leads them into the room, and then comes back and leads me to Disney employee #4 who is going to check me in.
Meanwhile, the gears in my brain are moving full speed. I’m only half paying attention to #4 as she processes the check-in. Did she (#3) really just remember 4 of my kids names, AND realize which one had left to go to the bathroom? I checked her hands. No papers or cheat sheets. I forget peoples names 2 minutes into a conversation with them. She must have an amazing memory. Then I thought, there’s no way she just has a good memory. We’re just one of who knows how many families are coming to check in. There’s got to be something else going on here.
Then I remembered employee #1 and it hit me.
The reason why I had to wait a full 5 minutes talking to employee #1 was so that employees #2, #3, and #4 had time to prepare. That gave #2 time to get in place so we weren’t standing outside our car waiting for someone to take care of us. It gave #3 time to get our gifts ready and review the names of each family member. When she asked what the kids names were, it wasn’t because she didn’t know. It was so she could put a face to the names she had already stored in her short term memory. And then that 5 minutes also gave #4 time to process the guest in front of me so that by the time I got to the desk , I didn’t have to wait in line at all.
And that my friends is why Disney is such an amazing company. They understand the importance of creating an experience. And they also understand that an experience doesn’t just happen, it is created. And it isn’t just created in the moment, it’s architected well before the actual moment occurs.
It reminded me of something one of our clients said during one of our Bootcamps a month or so back. We were at dinner, and my 8 year old son had just participated in his first Pine Wood Derby race. He was telling me how he had done Pine Wood Derby with his son when he was growing up, and they had taken first place every time. The lesson he had taught his son through Pine Wood Derby was this:
“You don’t win the race at the race. You win it in the garage. You just go to the race to pick up the trophy.”
I LOVE that idea. You don’t win a football game during the game, you win it during practice. You don’t win a three point contest in basketball at the contest. You win it during the hours you spend practicing. In both cases, you just show up at the game or contest to collect your reward.
The same is true in business. You don’t close a deal on the last sales call, you close it in everything you do leading up to that moment. The same principle applies to every aspect of business. Creating loyal customers, growing a strong partner network, or building a team of amazing employees.
The key to success in small business is found in creating and architecting experiences. And the key to creating and architecting experiences is understanding that the experience is created LONG before the experience actually occurs.
The former Dallas Cowboys Hall Of Fame running back Emmett Smith summed it up perfectly when he said, “All men/women are created equal, some just work harder in pre-season.”
Here’s my question for you. What are the pivotal experiences in your business, and how can you start to architect that experience earlier?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts below.