Time changes just about everything. Music changes with the times, fashion changes with the times, and business especially changes with the times. One thing that has proven to stand the test of time, however, is Disney. If you have ever set foot in a Disney theme park you know just how magical it is to be walking through Magic Kingdom with Mickey Mouse ears on your head and a Dole Whip in hand. Splash Mountain will always be fun whether you’re 5 or 95, and if you tell me you don’t get a little sparkle in your eye watching the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle I won’t believe you.
How does Disney do it? While some companies crash and burn in only a year, Disneyland will be celebrating its 61st anniversary this coming July. As Disney fanatics ourselves, here are some tried and true business strategies that any entrepreneur can take away from the Disney Empire:
Treat your Customers like Kings and Queens
If you’ve ever been to a Disney theme park you know just how stellar their customer service can be. Balloon popped? Take another. Ice cream spilled? They’ll bring you a new one. Missed meeting your favorite character? Take a Fastpass to skip the line tomorrow. Granting your employees the ability to create magical moments for your own customers is a sure-fire way to improve their experience and generate brand loyalty.
It’s a Small World, After All
Anyone who has been to any Disney theme park worldwide knows the catchy tune to the It’s a Small World ride – an unavoidable earworm reminding us that no matter our backgrounds, we are all connected. This holds true in business as well, as every customer you work with has their own professional network with whom they could connect you in the future. Provide your customers with a great experience and you could very well find yourself with some new leads.
Know When to Partner Up
Woody and Buzz, Timon and Pumbaa, Lilo and Stitch – Disney characters are known as some of the world’s most famous duos. What makes these partnerships so valuable is that they act as the yin to each other’s yang, each brings different strengths to the table to make one cohesive unit. Small business owners especially should utilize the power of meaningful partnerships, as combining your skillset with another complimentary business can prove to be mutually beneficial in terms of generating new ideas and expanding your audience.
Be Open to Changing With the Times
While the basis of Disney theme parks is timeless worlds that will appeal to all generations, the Disney corporation also knows when to capitalize on some of their biggest cash cows in order to draw in new crowds. For instance, Disney World has announced plans for a Frozen Ever After ride and an expanded Star Wars Land following their two biggest blockbusters in this modern era of Disney filmmaking. Small business owners should also be open to change – keep a pulse on what’s new, popular, and innovative in order to stay relevant and generate excitement in your product.
Think Like an Imagineer
The biggest animatronic figures in the world! The first trackless ride technology! America’s premiere monorail system! Disney Imagineers are always striving to be the first to unveil wildly inventive new technologies that will take the rest of the theme park sphere by storm. In business, entrepreneurs should always be looking for gaps in their field, searching for what could be done better, and coming up with an innovative and unique solution that will set them apart from the competition.
Listening is Key
The fact that Disney theme parks have been consistently teetering between a 90 to 95% approval rating for years is no coincidence – this is because the Disney corporation prioritizes open communication. Rather than disregarding this small percentile of unhappy guests, Disney employees take the time to listen to their complaints in order to improve the experiences of future park visitors. For example, after claims that Disney’s Fastpass system was slow and outdated, Disney unveiled a state-of-the-art Fastpass+ system that allows riders to reserve a place in line up to 60 days in advance. Small business owners should adopt this same attitude – listening to the suggestions of past customers is a great way to turn a negative experience into an opportunity to improve your business model.