Space (and Time) Mountain
This past weekend I vacationed in Disney World Orlando and Universal Studios to celebrate my twins’ (and my own) birthday. We were equally excited, and not disappointed, by the rides and attractions at each of the parks (side note: if you’re traveling to Universal Islands of Adventure, be sure to check out the Harry Potter and Spiderman rides; amazingly cool!). Coming from a generation that traditionally accepted, albeit begrudgingly, up to two-hour waits on more popular rides like Splash and Space Mountain back in the day, we were pleasantly surprised with new options, at both parks, that allow customers to bypass these long waits and optimize time spent in the park. “Wow!” I thought. “Finally. Companies that listen and react to their customers needs and probably run more efficiently at higher profitability levels too.” However, each park treated their customers’ importance, or rather urgency, on time emphasis:
Disney’s Fast Pass is a system where most popular rides have a ticket machine conveniently placed in front. You pass your ticket through the machine and it produces a separate ticket for that ride with the window of time you are to return (i.e. “Between 2 and 3PM”) to enter a line that should be no less than fifteen minutes total.
Universal’s Express Pass is a system where a customer can use an all out upgraded ticket or beeper device to reserve Express Pass line status for that ride in advance. The Express Pass ticket or beeper needs to be scanned by an attendant upon entering the line and waits are expected to be less than fifteen minutes as well.
Both park’s systems are efficient and convenient for customers. The difference, however, is that Disney’s system is included in ALL park tickets (single day park tickets run around $100), giving equal access to a more efficient experience to each and every ticket holder, whereas the Universal System is one that is purchased – in addition to a standard ticket. Call it a VIP add-on for those who can afford the additional $30 – $60 to an already steep $95 ticket per park admission. (Yes. Do the painful math; family of four + one-day in one park = tons of cash! Yikes!) It got me thinking about the value of time and the efficiencies we create and/or make available for and/or offer as a premium to our own customers. Do we operate as efficiently as we would like in our own business? Do we make it easy for our customers to do business with us and provide convenience and efficiencies for them? Do we show respect and value for our customers’ time? How important is the speed of product/service delivery with respect to the overall experience and customer-company relationship?
The Value and Impact of Time on Business
It’s hard to put a finger on the value of time for any business. Is that a standard hourly rate? Is it the price of a product or service? Certainly, time can be one of the business’ greatest assets and can provide a customer one of their greatest benefits. For a business owner, professional, employee, efficient use of time can result in greater productivity, streamlined operations and increased profitability. For customers, it can mean an increase in order size and frequency as well as improved referrals, to name a few. In summary, how we analyze and treat time for ourselves, our business and our customers can dramatically impact the bottom line.
Following are a few suggestions to help you improve your use of time – for your business, and to better serve your customers:
1. In your own business, focus on what you’re good at, as efficiencies can be passed on just as cost savings, making you and your business more competitive and attractive to customers. Small business owners and professionals struggle with outsourcing functions like accounting, marketing, and even sales. Focusing on what your good at with 100% of your time can result in expeditious sales, higher margins and new innovations. Easier said than done, right? To take advantage of this suggestion, start slow. Pick one function that is not your strongest suit and outsource it. Measure the time you’re saving to pour into the functions you are good at (i.e. innovation, sales or other). Track results and then move on to another function.
2. Provide alternatives to customers that allow them to save time. Consider the use of technologies like mobile apps, text messaging and/or email to help customers save time on things like order taking and status, service progress and access, as well as product/service completion or delivery results. The more time they have the more additional products and service you are likely to sell them. Use that time wisely.
3. Consider ways to cut down on lost sales and/or cancelled appointments (= lost time). I’ll never forget a guest lecture I received from the EVP of Virgin Airlines during an Entrepreneurship class at the University of Connecticut. Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin, noticed an increase of empty seats, meaning tremendous costs for the company, due to business travelers missing flights. The empty seats/missed flights were mostly due to conflicting busy schedules of business travelers and the fact that several subsequent flights were available (and the casual attitude of “I’ll just take the next available flight…”). Branson analyzed costs and thereafter contracted with a limousine company to offer free pickup/delivery of business flyers within a 100-mile radius of arrival and destination sites. The number of missed flights and empty seats dramatically decreased. More importantly, the costs for the limousine contract proved to be far less than the costs of the empty seats on flights the company was incurring due to the cancellations. It also created value-add for flyers and was a great PR story elevating the company’s presence and care of its customers. “Brilliant, mate!” Perhaps there are some costs within your own company that can be offset with solutions you hadn’t previously thought of or considered. Think closely on it…
4. Illustrate a genuine respect and concern for the value of yours and your customers’ time. Even if you can’t offer or afford tremendous time savings for your customers, showing them that you appreciate and value their time should help your business. In addition, making a commitment to your own business and time and not allowing you to waste it on non-revenue, non-output producing activities, can affect overall success rates.
Pay attention to time. Cherish it. Value it. Respect it.
Do this, and you will have more of it for yourself and the things that matter most.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.