4 Magical Business Lessons From 'The Happiest Place on Earth'
When you think of Disneyland, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Kids? Happiness? Mickey Mouse?
Last week, I spent time vacationing at "The Happiest Place on Earth," and one key phrase kept popping into my head every time I looked around: Business perfection.
You see, Disneyland is not only a place for kids and adults to have fun, eat way too much ice cream and interact with their favorite cartoon characters. Sure, on the surface that might be all we see, but beneath the surface (both literally and figuratively), Disneyland is an exceptionally well-run business that any entrepreneur could glean valuable information from.
Here are four of the biggest entrepreneurial observations I made while enjoying my trip to the happiest place on earth. I'll also offer some insight into how you can take these ideas and apply them to your business to see huge growth.
1. Perfected systems
Most individuals enjoying their time at Disneyland don’t immediately think of “systems” when they think of Mickey Mouse, but at its core, systems are what make Disneyland so great. Repeatable, documented, tested systems.
For example, while waiting in line for a ride, a man cleaning up garbage stopped in front of us and spent 10 minutes telling jokes and making sure everyone was highly entertained. No matter how nice this individual was, don’t think for a second this was random. Disney has a system that this man was hired to play a role in.
The same is true for the rides, the words the employees (“cast members”) use, the maintenance of the rides, the meet and greets with the characters, the food served and every other conceivable part of the business. Every system at Disney has been perfected and designed to increase customer enjoyment while maximizing profit.
What systems do you have running in your business? Are you continually finding ways to improve those? As I recently wrote in my article "The Surprisingly Simple Reason Why You Feel Stressed," systems are the glue that hold your business together while you focus on growth. Take a look at your systems and ask yourself: How can I improve them?
2. Intelligent pricing
If you’ve ever planned a trip to Disneyland, you know that understanding the pricing structure can be a bit complicated.
After all, you can buy tickets to both Disney parks or just a single park for a wide number of days. Then, you can add on “Park Hopper” benefits, allowing you to visit multiple parks in a single day. Additionally, Disney offers “special” packages that include hotel stays, special visits with the Disney Characters, princess makeovers and more. A person could spend as little as $100 or tens of thousands of dollars for a vacation.
So why is the pricing so complicated? Why not just stick with one price?
Because Disney knows that different people want different things, so it’s created a pricing structure that allows for maximum profit spread out over the greatest number of people. Some people are bound to buy the cheapest option, but many will pay more -- a lot more.
Does your business offer multiple pricing packages? Chances are, a small percentage of your audience would be willing to pay significantly more for your product or service if you offered more value, exclusivity and luxury. So, what kind of “Park Hopper” can you add to your pricing to create a premium product?
3. Mass appeal
One of the most interesting things about Disneyland is its mass appeal to people of all ages. I just turned 30 years old, yet loved every moment of the experience. On this trip, my wife and I traveled with another couple who are in their 40s. We saw people well into their 80s enjoying the experiences. Of course, there are plenty of children as well having the time of their lives.
In other words, Disneyland appeals to nearly everyone, and nearly everyone has a great time while there. How does Disney do this?
Nearly every moment has been carefully “imagineered” to appeal to young, old, male, female, grumpy, happy, sleepy and dopey visitors! Incredible detail has been put into every aspect of the park, so no one is bored while experiencing the sights and sounds of Disney. It's truly a remarkable thing.
Take a look at your business from an outside perspective. Yes, you should have an “ideal customer,” but can those who are not your target demographic still enjoy the time they spend with your company? Find ways to appeal to more people and watch your revenue climb to new heights!
4. End with a bang
Every night, Disneyland concludes the day with a parade and fireworks display that puts to shame any Fourth of July event I’ve ever seen. They literally end with a bang!
Because Disney is intent on making the customer’s experience magical from the moment you first arrive to the moment you leave the park. When people leave, the last thing they experience is just as great as the first. In fact, I believe it's largely that final moment that gets people to book trips year after year after year. The memory ends on a high note, prompting repeat visits.
Don't just focus on the first impression. After all, mediocre businesses focus on the first impression. Great businesses focus on the overall impression.
Take a look at your business and ask yourself: Do I wow the customer at every step of the process? Or do I allocate most of my resources getting them in the door? Remember, it’s far easier and cheaper to hold onto a customer than to acquire a new one, so end every experience a customer has with your business with a bang!
Disneyland is a powerful business that has been perfecting its art for 60 years. Look to the reasons behind its success and perhaps one day you can build the next magical business.
Thoughts? Leave your comments below and let's talk!
Brandon Turner is a real estate entrepreneur and the VP of Growth at BiggerPockets.com, one of the web’s largest real estate investing communities. He is also the author of The Book on Rental Property Investing, The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down and several other books. Buying his first home at the age of 21, Turner quickly grew his real estate portfolio to over 40 units using a variety of creative finance methods. He and his wife Heather live in Grays Harbor, Wash.