**This is the third part of a five-part series about how a terrible vacation experience turned into one of the best life and business lessons I could have learned. Please click here to read Part 1: Our Cruise Vacation Falls Apart, if you have not already.**
If you read Parts 1 and 2 of this series, then you already know how I ended up missing a speaking engagement, not going to Cuba, watching my entire family melt down into tears around me, and nearly getting ejected from a cruise line’s central offices. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, then you probably should so you can find out why all of those negative things ultimately turned into one of the best business mini-courses you will ever find. To summarize: In Part 1, my family was miserable, and I was seeking a solution. In Part 2, things started to look up, we checked into Saratoga Springs, and I realized something very important about a common business practice that can go really wrong if you are not careful.
Here’s what happened next…
Once we arrived at the hotel, we found that we had been given a lovely room really near the pool. That was great, because at the time it was still really cold where I live, but at Disney, it was definitely pool weather. We spent a lot of time poolside. Well, one morning, we were walking to the pool and saw a couple of trucks, some caution tape, and part of the pool area was blocked off.
Of course, we did what every tourist does: We walked closer to see what was going on. Now, I will tell you that as a contractor, it can be really frustrating when someone walks over just to investigate what you are working on. You have to worry about whether they are going to mess up your project. You have to worry about whether they are going to get hurt while potentially messing up your project. You want to hurry them along because they are just a general threat to the entire project while they are there taking up time, asking questions, and creating a potential problem.
Well, I know this, and yet, I walked over there anyway. I couldn’t help myself! I wanted to know what was going on. It turned out they were taking down a tree, and to do that they had to have people move their cars, stay out of the way, go around the work space, etc. It was a potentially dangerous situation to have all those people around. Yet, to a man, the tree service guys did something that really struck me: They were so kind. In Part 2, I talked about how all the Disney employees are so good with customers, but the tree guys did not likely have any special training. They did not work for Disney. And I will tell you they would have been well within their rights to hustle us right off so they could get the job done. But they didn’t do that. And that leads me to the third lesson I learned at Disney:
Hire vendors and service providers who share your core values.
Those guys were not Disney employees, but they acted as if they were representing Disney just as much as Sleeping Beauty or The Little Mermaid. You would have thought they were just as much a part of the Mickey Mouse team as anyone employed on-site full time. They took the time to tell us what they were doing, talk to my kids, and apologize for the inconvenience even though really, they were saving us all from having a tree fall on us. They treated us the same way Disney treated us, which is to say: very well.
That is so important in business because your vendors and contractors are your forward face in business a lot of the time. If they treat your customers differently than you would, even though they are not part of your business, it still reflects poorly on you. Hire vendors who have similar core values to yours and then take the time to train them in your expectations about how they interact with your customers. Your business will benefit and so will your relationship with both contractors and consumers.
Read Part 4 Next Week…