Giving Your Business a “Blank” Check

How much would it be worth to you and your business if you could have a consultant review everything from top to bottom? Your systems. Your services. Your “story”?

If you took some time and invested some money in your current technology and marketing, would you add any value to your customers and clients?

Imagine how your chances for success might increase if you refocused your efforts on the actions and attitudes that produced the results you are looking for.

You’ll Follow Your Friends If They Are Good Leaders

This week one of my good friends came to Ohio to meet with our agents, managers and staffs of the Ohio NRT Companies. Pete Blank has been a close friend of mine since our college days at The University of Florida when we were both members of Delta Upsilon Fraternity.

During and after college, Pete spent 13 years at Walt Disney World in various capacities, his most recent of which was a Learning Manager at the Disney University. Pete is now employed as the Training Advisor in the Training and Career Development department within the Jefferson County government in Birmingham, Alabama. Pete is the President of ATLAS (Alabama Training, Leadership and Strategy) where he provides leadership training to corporate, college and church groups.

He joined us to share his insights and recollect anecdotes and learning examples of “The Disney Way of Customer Service.”

The Three C’s of Customer Service

Pete outlined three big picture strategies that companies like Disney (or Nordstrom’s, Starbucks or Apple to name a few) employ in their search for greatness. See if you have these in your business:

Consistency – The people at Walt Disney are very particular about keeping their brand image consistent across all mediums. Mickey Mouse is Mickey Mouse. Whether he is in movies, television shows, print books or in person, his look shouldn’t change . Most brands are that way because the logo and name is how people know them. The Nike Swoosh, the golden arches of McDonald’s or the mermaid of Starbucks are all examples of a consistent look and feel that customers come to rely on.

How are you creating consistency in your business? Do you have checklists and systems in place that are used for each and every client? Does your logo or slogan stay the same or are you constantly tweaking it? Are people treated the same each time they encounter you or your services?

Pete shared a great story of how every person who worked in a senior leadership position at Walt Disney used to have to go through an 8-hour training session in order to participate in an “in costume experience.” If you’ve ever been to one of the Disney theme parks, you know they have characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh and hundreds of others come out and “meet their fans.” Every person needed to experience what it was like to wear those heavy, warm costumes and engage with the customer. The experience only lasted 20 minutes. 8 hours of training for 20 minutes?

That can’t be a good return on investment, can it?

As Pete explained, everyone needed to know the movements of their character, how to walk, how to sign their name, how to react to kids touching, kicking and pulling them. Can you imagine a child asking Tigger from Winnie the Pooh to sign his autograph book and the person in the costume signs “Tiger” or the signature didn’t look like it did the last time?

You’re not an “employee” at Disney, you’re a “cast member.” Everyone from the custodians to the chefs, monorail drivers to make up artists, had a role to play. Disney is all about “the show” and what people see and experience. Consistency in everything you do is critical and should be something you focus on each and every day. The good thing is, if you do things the same each time, it starts happening almost without thinking. It’s kind of like magic.

Connections – Pete shared with us that there are three basic ways to create connections; through stories, through emotions and through first impressions.

What are you doing to help people understand what it is that you do? Do people know the “story” behind your real estate career? How about your local company? Your brand? The real estate industry?

Visiting a theme park for a family vacation might not be the same as helping someone buy or sell a house but in many cases, they both involve making someone’s dreams come true. Haven’t people always referred to home ownership as the “Great American Dream”?

Making connections with people is all about building a fan base of people who know, like and trust you. Connections grow deeper when people get to know you, who you are or what you believe in. Finding common interests with your clients is a key to deeper relationships. Telling people a story in your marketing helps them “see” what they may get if they work with you to accomplish their goals.

Can people “feel” your passion? Does your professionalism show in everything you do? When people listen to you talk about what you do, can they “hear” the excitement and enthusiasm? I’ve talked before how real estate is a very emotional process and for that reason, we need to balance that out with a healthy dose of logic. How do you control your emotions while understanding and managing your client’s emotions?

Wouldn’t it be neat if you and your fellow agents could be as passionate about what you do as these Disney employees are about what they do each and every day?

(Click here if you don’t see the video above)

Finally, when it comes to first impressions, take some time to look at your business practices and make sure you are making this a “magical” event. How do you answer the telephone? What do people see on your website? If I come in to one of your open houses, how will you greet me? Don’t stand back passively and wait for the client to come to you. Seek out interaction and do it with a smile.

If you’re looking to impress your clients, start from the first meeting…or even before that. Let your reputation build people’s expectations before they meet you and then do everything you can to surpass those expectations.

Creativity – With almost 1,000,000 real estate agents in the United States, how are you standing out? What can you do each and every day to be unique, different or better than the rest? Creativity involves risk taking but as Pete reminded us, not many of our actions are irreversible. Many of the things you might try to improve or enhance your services will work but some won’t. And that’s okay. If that happens, change something.

Not everything that Disney has done has been a hit with fans but that doesn’t mean they won’t keep trying new things. What are you trying in 2012 that might be creative?

Are you using social networking to increase your relationships? That could be risky to some people because maybe it’s not “who you are,” but many people are doing it very effectively. Do you blog? Use video? Volunteer at your kid’s school? Help out at your local house of worship?

Take more risks in your day to day business by getting creative.

Are You Ready to “C’s” the Day?

Are you up for the challenge? How can you change for the better? Is it time to close more deals?

Walt Disney once said, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world … but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

Are you ready to make success a reality and start helping your client’s dreams come true?

If you are, start by building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

2 Responses to Giving Your Business a “Blank” Check
  1. Teri Conrad
    February 26, 2012 | 12:19 am

    I LOVE your posts Sean! You really do offer fabulous advice and tell great stories! Infusing the 3 C’s that you’ve identified can’t help but improve a business! I’m always advising Agents to get creative, differentiate, tap into their ‘WHY’ and build that into their brand. Taking the time to get CLEAR might be a 4th “C” to add to the list ;). Awesome as always!

    • Sean
      February 26, 2012 | 8:07 pm

      Thanks Teri. It’s always an honor to have people like you read and comment on my posts. I agree that being “clear” in your focus is critical. If you have consistency, build connections, use creativity and have a clear focus, maybe the next C you get to do is Celebrate?