Lindsay Nemeth set a Guinness World Record by visiting all 12 Disney theme parks in just over three days.
She started at the original Disneyland in California and ended her trip half-way around the world in Japan.
Although I have not been to all of the Disney theme parks, I have visited Walt Disney World in Florida more than 200 times. I visited it on the second day it was open when I was only three years old. I just did trip No.218.
What draws me back to a theme park that calls itself “the happiest place on earth”?
As an entrepreneur in the retail automotive industry, I’m always interested in learning how to improve processes and services, especially when it comes to benefiting my dealer clients.
I’ve concluded what appeals to me most about Disney World is the consistency of a positive experience.
Obviously, a car dealership is not a theme park. Disney World is as big as San Francisco in land area and packed with tourists, catering to millions of visitors a year.
But here are five ways dealers can take a note from Disney to create a memorable experience for customers.
1. Be Our Guest: Create a Customer-First Culture
Disney World visitors are referred to as guests.
From the receptionist who checks you in to the ride attendant who straps you in, they all share the same goal: to make guests happy.
They always put guests first.
Lesson: Everyone gets the VIP treatment in the Magic Kingdom -- and in your dealership.
2. Heigh-Ho: Hire to Fit Your Culture
Creating a customer- or guest-first culture starts with hiring. Sales skills and product knowledge can be taught, of course. But the right attitude is more elusive to find.
Applicants for a job as a character at Disney World go through a competitive group interview process that often includes dancing and acting.
Roles such as Snow White or Cinderella might require voices and accents. Even autograph signatures must be mastered to ensure it’s the same signature, from one Mickey to the next. While meeting these qualifications, applicants must, above all, inspire happiness.
Lesson: Start right by hiring right.
3. You Can Fly: Bolster Your Culture with Training
Before on-boarding, make sure your new hires have the right attitude about your culture. Disney workers are not only hired, they’re trained.
Cast members attend Disney University to take classes related to their specific roles. Moreover, all cast members are required to take a class called Traditions, which introduces them to the Disney culture and shows them how to take care of guests the Disney way.
Lesson: Train your staff to be goodwill ambassadors of your culture.
4. A Spoon Full of Sugar: Make Your Store Reflect Your Culture
Whenever I visit Disney World, I know what to expect. I enter on Main Street, U.S.A., and can see Cinderella Castle in the distance. The setting helps me buy into the experience.
Likewise, as soon as customers walk into your store, they should be able to immediately grasp your culture.
It can range from the many smiling faces to the free popcorn to the friendly layout of the store itself. Display posters and other signage that identify your culture and unique selling proposition. For example, if you offer a free lifetime powertrain warranty, highlight this benefit throughout your store.
Lesson: Your store should reflect your culture.
5. Remember Me: Leave Customers Feeling Excited
Daily life at the dealership and the products it sells might be old news to you. But as soon as customers enter your store, there’s a good chance it’s a new and exciting experience for them.
Your excitement should match theirs. At Disney World, people of all ages have a chance to be a kid again. Show customers you’re there to help them find their dream vehicle and make sure they leave feeling happy about their decision.
When you do, they’ll tell others about their amazing experience – and they’ll be back.
Lesson: A culture of positive reinforcement works wonders.
I’ll close with this quote from Walt Disney: “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”
The car business is the dream-fulfillment business and that makes me happy. (David Adcock, left)
David Adcock is the executive vice president of Binary Auto Solutions, a provider of customized programs for dealerships. He can be reached at [email protected].