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This business coaching episode is about ways to create memorable and magical customer service.

Results-Focused Training, Tools, and Workshops from Expert Business Coaches.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Ask Yourself: Am I using checklists to ensure that my company is consistently executing at a level of excellence?
  • Lesson Nugget: Checklists help eliminate human error and ensure that each task is completed correctly and consistently.

-Now for business coaching purposes, what role does your-- so your to-do-list and your day planner, if we're using the same document. Is that correct?


-OK. So in your business coaching mind, if you don't have a day planner or to-do-list, you're up creek?

-Well, what are you going to do?

-OK. Now in this customer service training, let me ask this. In your business coaching mind, how important it is to have a checklist? So let's just say in Disney, there's a bathroom. And how many bathrooms did you have on your four resorts? Do you have four resorts, or is it five? Did you manage four resorts?

-We had 4 theme parks, and 20 hotels, and hundreds of bathrooms.

-4 theme parks, 20 hotels, hundreds of bathrooms.


-Did you have a checklist for how to clean the bathroom?

-Absolutely. They've proven the checklist on an airplane, it's important for the pilots.


-Flaps up or down. Does it matter? Yes. Been de-iced or not de-iced in the last 30 minutes? Yes or no?


-And then when you think about other checklists-- hospitals have proven recently that checklists reduce infection rates and all kinds of issues. Wash your hands-- checklist when you go in with your doctor.

-As we're building Thrive, this online platform, we have to add business coaching videos. And so we've made these workflows on how to edit a video quickly. And so in the interview with you, we can get it edited, put into the right format. There's big checklist there. In your mind, is it possible to make the magic happen at Disney or any other business without checklists?

-I don't know. It's so complex. Business coaching truth: If you don't have checklists, one day, you're going to show up, and you're not going to have one of the cameras with you.


-And you don't believe that that'll ever happen. It couldn't happen.

CLAY CLARK: It will.

-All of a sudden, one of your people gets distracted. They had a problem at home this morning, a death in the family. It doesn't get on there, or it gets left at the curb.

-I have an embarrassing confession. This is funny. I was at a wedding I did all the way in Houston. And I show up for the wedding. This is before checklists, before I knew this stuff. I show up there, so excited to DJ down in Houston. And I'm like, oh, no. There's no mic stand. So I thought, I'll just go buy one, so I go buy one. And I'm like, oh, no. There's no amplifier. And I just kept having that.

My wife traveled with me, and she never would go with me. Well, the couple, we ended up getting the music on right before they got there. No one knew. I was so nervous. And I remember at that point, I'm like, I'm never going to a DJ wedding or event without a checklist. And now, I'm insistent upon it. And I've just noticed that that's not a natural behavior for people. So what would you say right now to the business owner who says, well, at our staffing company or our insurance agency, we don't use a checklist, because it's all up here.

What would you say to that guy?

-I'd say, first of all, you're not going to execute in an excellent way. And second, what's going to happen the day you're not there? Can the company carry on? I used to work for an outside catering company where you learn, when you get everything on the truck, and when you get to the site 100 miles away to do the dinner, if you don't have a checklist, you start to open the boxes, and you don't have the chicken, or you don't have the plates, or you don't have the tablecloths, that's where I really learned about checklists. Make sure everything's on the truck before you head out.

And this is a checklist basically. This is a checklist for me.

-So let's talk about bathroom checklist for a second. Does somebody initial that off every day?

-Yeah, they do. And it's all been timed how long it takes to clean that bathroom-- 12 minutes, 8 minutes, 6 minutes, because manager's been in there. They've done it. Everybody knows this is how long, so we know that person should only be in there for 12 minutes, and he should be in the next bathroom within 8 minutes.

CLAY CLARK: Does someone expect that checklist?

-Yeah. Business coaching lesson: And by the way, the checklists are always improving. When something goes wrong, you go look and see if it's on the checklist. Why did it go wrong? Because it wasn't on there. Or there are people checking it off and not really

doing it.

Watch more customer service trainings on Thrive15.com

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: Immediately deal with employees that fail to correctly fill out checklists, and explain the consequences for them if there should be another instance.
  • Lesson Nugget: Consistency is achieved through training, testing, and enforcement.
  • Notable Quotable: "[In regards to Disney World] Even after I'm gone, if you all keep this place clean and friendly, everything will work out just fine."- Walt Disney, Before He Died.
  • Ask Yourself: Am I strictly enforcing the values of my company in the day-to-day operations?


-I want to hear-- because this is the stuff that there is no place on the planet right now where you hear this kind of business coaching. That's why I want to ask you this. Let's just say that I'm one of those guys who didn't actually do the checklist, but I just pretend like I did.

-Well, that's a lot of people.

-So I am at your business. You're the owner, and there's-- or say I'm at Disney and I pretended like I checked off the checklist. Go ahead and deal with me. What would you say if I pretended that I did your checklist?

-Yeah, I mean, I would ask you first, and then I would keep interrogating you, like you do a teenager till you get to the truth and they lie about 12 times before you get there. Business coaching advice: And then I probably would tell them the consequences of that. Do you realize that people can get food poisoning and die from this kind of situation? Do you understand that, when the temperature is not 160 degrees or more, and bacteria is growing, and 12 people die, and you're the responsibility for that?

And by the way let me tell you again, I'm going to give you one chance. If you ever do this again, you're terminated and there won't be any more warnings. Because when you get into safety, you'll start to see how you deal with your kids when they do something unsafe. You're not going to be real nice about it. You're going to be real firm when they run into the street. You'll probably have a talk with them they won't forget for the rest of the afternoon. Or when you catch them one day driving without their seat belt on, or--

-What if it's an area where it's not safety, but it's just-- like at Disney. One of the things that's amazing about Disney is that it's so clean. It's so clean. It is always a clean walkway. It's just beautiful. It's pristine.

But thousands of people will not come back if there's just stuff littered everywhere. How do you deal with that guy?

Business coaching advice: Well, there's pretty serious training upfront about-- when you join the company, you go through eight hours of what they call traditions training. And cleanliness and friendliness and all are hammered in. And you learn about the characters, and Walt Disney, and the pride we have, public's love of Disney.

And then, when you get to the workplace, you get very clear training, testing, and then our managers know we expect them to enforce the training. So Disney managers have no problem dealing with an employee not doing what they're supposed to do. List of some managers are wishy-washy. They let it go. I don't want to cause-- Our managers are very-- that's how we get consistent Disney, by training, testing, and enforcement.

-Training, testing--

-Business coaching lesson: Bill Merritt told me, the only way you get excellence in any organization is training and enforcement. You got to train it, and you got to enforce it. Don't close your eye to it.

-So let me ask you this here. How many bathrooms were you in charge of-- hundreds, thousands?


-Hundreds, OK. So how come you guys can keep a hundred bathrooms clean, and the average small business owner can't keep one clean? What is the difference? Is it the checklist and the enforcement? What is it?

-I think first, it's your values. Business coaching tip: Cleanliness is a big deal. That's one of our values at Disney, cleanliness. Even Walt Disney said before he died. He said, even after I'm gone, if you all keep this place clean and friendly, everything will work out just fine. He didn't talk about technology, clean and friendly.

And today when you say you stand for something, cleanliness, then you've got to do it. And it's worked in all our trainees. Business coaching tip: It's worked into our systems It's worked into our inspection systems. It's worked into-- I mean, even me, executive vice president, I would never walk over a piece of paper--

-Pick it up.

- --because role modeling. People are watching. When I do it and when you have 72,000 employees wake up in the morning and know that's their job, there's nothing on the ground.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Lesson Nugget: Make sure your employees know your company values and in what order the priority of those values fall.
  • Lesson Nugget: Keep your goals and ideas written in front of you to remind you of your good idea until it is executed.
  • Notable Quotable: "You can expect what you inspect."- W. Edward Deming


-For business coaching purposes: What, now, what tools did you have to make sure that everyone was on the same page with expectations? As it came to cleanliness or safety, was it basically a series of checklists that were then all supervised.

-Yeah. Business coaching tip: Well, it delegates down. I mean, we have some basic principles at Disney, which safety is always the first thing you do no matter what. Even safety comes before cleanliness. Safety first.

Second thing we do is being cordial. That's the second thing. I mean, always, Disney people are nice after safety.

The third thing is what we call show, that the place looks great. We're even nice before we worry about if there's a piece of paper. And last, efficiency. Productivity. We never say productivity comes first, because safety comes first.

I could save money by not locking the gate or not cleaning up the floor not having enough people on duty to clean the bathrooms. So we always tell people, when you're making a decision think safety, courtesy, show, how the place looks, and then efficiency is last.

-Safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency is last. OK. Now, this is, this is one thing. You go to a conference, I know I've done it before, you go to the conference and you are pumped. You come back to your office and you're going, yes. We are going to have checklists and systems and accountability.

And then, you get to the office and the brass tacks of implementing these things-- most businesses I know don't have a checklist in place. How-- let's just say if you were starting a business today, so even like your speaking business, this is a good business coaching example-- how do you start making a checklist? Do you just sit there and kind of think about all the things that need to be done and just start jotting them down and trying to--

-Well, there's a simple way to think. When I came to Disney World from Paris, I had a lot of people tell me what I should look into when I got there. I had a yellow pad with five, six, seven pages full of things. It probably took me five years to get to all of them. But I had them on my desk.

And as I got them down, transportation, I got involved in costuming. There was opportunity to improve efficiency there, or whatever. Business coaching lesson: And so I think every time you keep something on your desk so you're looking at every day, you may not get to it for a month, six months, but don't ever forget that you thought it was a great idea at one time. And then, you'll get to it when you get to it.

You don't want it to fade from your memory. What do they say? There's an old saying about writing things down. Business coaching truth: It's better than-- I don't remember the saying, but writing things down makes it permanent. I always kept that pad. For years I had that pad on my desk.

A lot of them were scratched off, but I still remembered. Oh, yeah. I was supposed to get involved and find out about the laundry. I had time now. I got to that point and started getting involved in laundry. Check that off.

-Business coaching question: What percentage of your time was spent inspecting?

-Yeah, I would say I had a very clear schedule, like I do everything because I'm so compulsive. So I scheduled in a month in advance, I'd schedule four hours of the Magic Kingdom, four hours at the Animal Kingdom. So many times I'd visit a hotel for an hour or two, walk the rooms, walk the sanitation, check the kitchens.

And they knew. It was programmed for me to go. And then, I had times when I went out just as a guest. I put on shorts and a hat and went out and experienced the parks.

-Really? You did that?

-I did that a lot. I took my grandkids so nobody could see me anymore.

-You actually put a hat on and shorts?

-And you see so much.

-You didn't feel bad about that?

-Oh, no because I think you don't learn the truth when you're being handled.

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