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Using Disney Strategies in Home Improvement

If you are looking for ways to improve your business by developing and retaining a stellar staff and providing excellent customer service, then take some lessons from Disney.

After 16 years working for the entertainment company, former executive vice president Lee Cockerell wrote a book to help other companies find success based on the lessons he learned. He also answered questions from Fast Company.

“Disney is just like every business, including yours, whatever it may be, ” Cockerell says in the book “Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From a Life at Disney.” “It has to make a profit, it has to deal with serious business issues, it faces intense competition, and its strongest competitor is its own reputation.”

One of the ways the company addresses those various issues is by being meticulous, even about little things, Fast Company reports. 

“At Disney, we believe everything is important,” Cockerell tells Fast Company. “Every detail. We don’t want any paper on the ground. We’re fanatical about–you don’t have to be happy to work at Disney, but you do have to act happy for eight hours. Because we’re putting on a show.”

The hiring and training processes are intensive at Disney, Cockerell says. Before employees, known as cast members, begin working for the company, they go through an orientation process that lays out expectations and demands, which helps eliminate people who aren’t interested in the job after learning the details, the Fast Company article says.

“Our managers are not bashful about enforcing policies, procedures, and operating guidelines,” Cockerell tells Fast Company. “I think the silver bullet for Disney is training. We don’t turn them loose on customers until they’ve been heavily trained. We don’t practice on our customers. Because at the end of the day, people at Disney are the brand.”

These methods offer important lessons for home improvement retailers. For example, vetting employees carefully before you hire them and training them early and thoroughly can help you present a positive company image, and give your store a strong customer service reputation.

Before making a hire, clearly communicate your expectations for how employees should behave and dress, how they should present themselves to customers and what their responsibilities will be.

During orientation, discuss in depth what employee interactions with customers should look like. In training and beyond, reinforce the concept that how employee attitudes are expressed, on both good and bad days, matter hugely to the business’ daily operational success.

About Renee Changnon

Renee Changnon is the retail outreach coordinator for NRHA. She meets with retailers in their stores and at industry events and introduces them to the services NRHA provides. Renee previously worked as a member of the NRHA communications team. She earned a degree in visual journalism from Illinois State University, where she served as the features editor for the school newspaper. After college, she implemented marketing and promotions initiatives at Jimmy John’s franchise locations across the country. She enjoys exploring books with her book club, Netflix marathons and hosting goat yoga at her apartment complex. Renee Changnon 317-275-9442 rchangnon@nrha.org

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