What Would Walt Disney Do,
If He Were An NFL Owner Today?
NFL owners are stuck between a rock and a hard place with players kneeing for the national anthem, entire teams deciding to stand together, or kneel together, or deciding to not participate and stay in the locker room. Players protesting, displaying their political beliefs both before the game and during the game. Fans are being turned off, rating are down and ticket sales will be next. And the owners have no one to blame but themselves.
As a management and customer service consultant, I often look to Walt Disney for inspiration and guidance. In fact the name of my management and customer service system comes directly from Disney training. In Traditions 1, new cast members (Disney speak for employees) at Disney are asked, “What business are we in? Everybody knows that McDonalds makes hamburgers, General Motors makes automobiles, Sony makes TVs, what does Disney make?” The answer, “Disney Makes People Happy.”
My Management System is called The Make-You-Happy Management System and my customer service system is called The Make-You-Happy Customer Service System because in both cases the focus is on a system that makes customers happy, team-members happy, management happy, and business owners happy.
But yikes! What would Walt Disney do if he were an NFL owner today?
If Walt were an NFL owner today he would have no issue at all, because every player, coach, and all support staff would have gone through Traditional 1, and each and every one of them would know that they are in the entertainment business. That they are all players in a performance, and their job is to entertain the fan – the people in the stadium. They would understand that at no time are they to break character and do anything that is not focused on providing the best entertainment value for the fan.
On the very first day of employment, every player, coach and staff member would have gone through training focused on the history of the franchise, and its value of putting the fan first. The first time Colin Kaepernick took a knee, Walt would have instructed the staff to repeat Traditions 1 and remind the team of the basic values of the organization, and make it clear to every team member that their duty is to the team and that they must always respect the fan. The general manager might even ask the team if they could imagine George Harrison in Indiana Jones stopping while fighting the Germans and making a comment on a political issue.
Then when Donald Trump made his statement, Walt himself, would have addressed the team and reminded them that their obligation is to the fan and the values of the team.
It’s clear to me that the NFL, and most team owners, don’t know who they work for, and they certainly have not passed it on to the players.
They don’t know that there is only one boss, and whether a person shines shoes for a living or heads up the biggest corporation in the world, the boss remains the same.
IT’S THE CUSTOMER.
He is the person who pays everyone’s salary and who decides whether a business is going to succeed or fail. And he doesn’t care if a business has been around for 100 years. The minute it starts treating him badly or taking him for granted, he’ll put it out of business.
The boss, THE CUSTOMER, has bought and will buy everything you have or will have. He’s bought all of your clothes, your home, your car, pays for your children’s education and your vacations. He pays all of your bills, and he pays in exact proportion to the way you treat him.
The man who works inside a big office building or plant might think he works for the company that writes his paychecks, but he doesn’t. He is working for the person who buys the product at the end of the line.
In fact, THE CUSTOMER can fire everybody in the company from the president on down. And he can do it simply by spending his money somewhere else.
Some of the largest companies that had flourishing businesses a few years ago no longer in existence. They couldn’t or didn’t satisfy THE CUSTOMER. They forgot who the boss really is.
In chapter one of The Happy Customer Handbook I write,
“The starting place for Make-You-Happy Customer Service isn’t exciting or fancy, but it is critical. Your core values, your vision, your mission statement, what-ever is at the heart of your company, needs to put a huge emphasis on the customer. If it doesn’t, it’s going to be apparent on a daily basis. Your team members simply won’t believe you when you tell them that customer service is all-important, and it’s going to be reflected in the service they give your customers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like making money as much as the next guy. In fact, the best reason to implement Make-You-Happy Customer Service is to maximize your income. But if your core value is only making the most amount of money in the least amount of time, then you might as well stop reading!”
Giving a lot of thought to your core values is critical when it comes to making tough decisions in your business. Often the right decision is easy when you refer to your core values.
I’ve been a season ticket hold of the Seahawks since 1977, their second year as a team. Today I have six season tickets. I go to football games to escape reality, not have it thrown in my face. Every time I walk in the stadium I’m spending close to $1,000 and yet the players, and now coaches and management think it’s OK to both take and make me feel uncomfortable. I don’t know how long I’ll keep my tickets. I used to proudly wear my Seahawk apparel, now I’ll only wear it on game day when I go to the stadium. I don’t want to walk around and have someone ask me what I think of their protests.
It was apparent to me, when the NFL implemented instant replay that they didn’t understand what business they are in, The Entertainment Business. With instant replay they took excitement from the game. They think “the game” is more important than the entertainment.
Prior to instant replay, on a close play in the end zone, you looked to the official and if he signaled touchdown you “went nuts.” Now you look to the official and if he signals touchdown you “start to go nuts” and then you come back to reality and think, “I hope it stands.” Then after a five minute wait for the official you see it was a touchdown and no “half nuts.” They don’t know what business they are in.
As a side note. Disney, especially ESPN, has forgotten who the boss is also, which is why they are in a tail spin.
You can get my book, The Happy Customer Handbook for free. Go to www.TheHappyCustomerHandbook. I simple ask that you pay $2.97 to help cover shipping and handling.