Who’s Job Is It?

March 23, 2015 4 Comments

Who’s Job Is It?

By Allen F. Weitzel

As I was wrapping up my ‘Don’t Look At Me’ blog on the subject of knowing your job and doing your job, the Theme Park and Attractions discussion group posted dialog about increasing in-park sales by tying sales to season pass programs.  Simplified, this issue proposes asking the ticketing department to help food, merchandise and games/arcade departments increase their in-park sales.  No insult intended to those who voiced this topic, but I would like to weigh in on this subject.

What About Team Work?

If various departments help each other out to improve the guest experience and boost revenue, it is always a positive thing.  But, I contend that at the end of the day each person in each department should do their own job first and foremost.

Of course, if the Marketing Department can tweak a ticketing plan to help improve in-park sales without slowing up the main gate lines or up-selling complex ticket packages, then it would be acceptable for marketing to help out other departments.  But I remain steadfast in that each department should be doing their own job without leaning on or expecting other departments to tackle part of that job.

If one department asks a favor of others, they must remember that it is a favor they are asking for, not an obligation.

 

The Whole Picture

 

Early in my career I worked at a mid-sized park, managed by a brilliant general manager.  The facility was heavily wooded and just inside the main gate we created a well-shaded public picnic area where the families could bring their own picnic for the day.  Parents could buy general admission tickets for themselves and pay-one-price ride tickets for the children.  They could ‘pitch their tent’ in Picnic Area P.  The kids could enjoy the rides and mom and dad could relax in the shade of the eucalyptus trees.

 

During a staff meeting, one director suggested we close the public picnic area and add new rides and attractions.  He said that other amusement parks enforced a policy preventing guests from bringing food into their park, with the belief that allowing guests to bring their own food lowered per capita spending at the park food stands. Our food director was convinced that such a move would increase his food sales.

 

Our general manager explained that length of stay is a key element in park operations.  The longer the guest is on the property the more opportunities there are for them to spend money on impulse purchases.  The picnic area provided a place for the family to rest and recharge their batteries, so they could spend the entire day at the park.  The general manager reminded us that it is the job of the food, merchandise, and arcade/games directors to provide exciting new products and experiences that guests find appealing to purchase or play.  Additionally, because the other parks in the area did enforce food restrictions, guests may choose our park over others.  Our general manager decided that our picnic area would remain unchanged.

 

Our food director embraced the message and began to introduce unique, fun foods.  One example was our corn dogs.  We had our corn dog batter made especially for us.  Our dogs were so good that locals came to the park just to buy them.  The groundskeepers soon noticed an increase in the number of abandoned bag lunches found in the public picnic area.  It was clear that as our GM predicted, guests were giving up their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from home and buying our unique foods instead.  We also had a fishpond stocked with 14,000 pounds of live rainbow trout to catch, purchase and take home. Again, we had guests coming to the park only to fish.  Our specialty products actually increased our attendance and revenue.

 

Other Examples

At the Winchester Mystery House, the gift shop staff located and sold hard to find books about the Winchester rifle, and gun enthusiasts visited the facility just to buy those books.

 

When Marriott’s Great America opened it created Maggie Brown’s restaurant, which offered a tasty chicken dinner that prompted guests to return again and again.

 

And, we all know of the success that Knott’s Berry Farm has had with their chicken restaurant.

 

The Final Point

Departments should interact and help each other provide a wonderful, overall experience for the guest.  However, each manager is paid to do their job and to invent creative solutions to make their departments better.  Food and merchandise departments must offer products so unique that guests come to the park just to buy such products.  These departments should not ask other departments to modify their operations just to help sell more drinks or T-shirts.

 

Industry expert Allen F. Weitzel spent 45 seasons in the recreation field and was most recently safety and training manager at a California amusement park.

Industry expert Allen F. Weitzel spent 45 seasons in the recreation field and was most recently safety and training manager at a California amusement park.

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4 Comments to “Who’s Job Is It?”
  1. Paul Warren says:

    Dear Mr. Weitzel:

    I always enjoy your blogs. Keep writing. I love that colorful
    backdrop behind your picture. Is that in your office?

    Best, Paul Warren

    • Thanks, Paul, I’ll keep writing. I enjoy sharing my experience with others, and hopefully the messages help others solve a problem they are having or allow them to see the topic from a
      different perspective. Please continue to share your comments with our readers, as well. The photo backdrop is a painting from my studio. I dabble in oils, aside from my writing and
      my management work. Thanks for following TAP. Best, Allen

  2. Ian Mindling says:

    Do what you’re good at, help others do what they are good at, without having the side distractions of what they find difficult. Equally – any entity, any park, any government, any company and every individual needs to do what it (he/she) is good at (was, could be, should be, has the potential to be good at), to be itself, to be unique, to be the expert, to be the best.

    Knott’s Berry Farm – the chicken restaurant … need to go back. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – beach, sun, history. Disney – imagination stimulation, to near perfection. Apple – innovation, civilization changing foresight and vision. Carmel (Carmel-By-The-Sea) – it’s just so Carmel…no address numbers, Clint was mayor, its residents feel their responsibility and, as a whole, appreciate and respect the town in unique ways that mostly work.

    When we each know how, from those that are good at it, we can be better at conserving water, better at working safely, better at fun, better at food, better at working together, better at politics…better at our unique, best thing.

    Is the difficult part identifying that uniqueness? Are we too close to see what we are supposed to be doing … inherently, ideally or by the responsibilities of our choices (to take a particular job, to hold a particular office, to interact with that specific person)? Or do we sometimes get distracted with everything else and forget or ignore it?

    The passion to do what you’re good at always connected us. Frustration with obstacles to any goal can be difficult to handle. With experience we mature and learn to focus on bigger pictures, win battles and progress a step at a time, worry less about the entire war or acute assaults. It is easy for an individual, or corporation or a government to get distracted by both either white noise or blaring injunction.

    The concept of the big picture is easy to grasp, but more difficult to stick with consistently. Dramatic events that drop in front of us assault us more dramatically, feeling like they are the most important thing and must have an instant response … but usually not thought out as well as could be considered.

    As you taught, give the best you can. Whether it’s your own efforts to help others with what you do, or staff in your department to help someone who’s short, give your best. If you instead give them the new trainee who hasn’t even gone through orientation, who are you helping? A receptionist may be having a bad day, but if he or she smiles when answering the phone, the smile can be heard. A manager may not really feel like lending a person or taking care of whatever-that-is, but the guest or customer is better served, the company is more successful. Very few individuals or companies like taxes or regulations, but very few would survive without the structure they enable.

    Passing the buck does not work. For individuals or companies, you instantly get a reputation. For governments, relationships … fixing it eventually is always more difficult, more expensive, more painful than just being responsible and faithful to the whole picture.

    Sorry, Allen, I did my rare toe-dip into the social internet pool at the same time the muse hit. I could never keep it short. The structure behind your knowledge, so freely shared and given, has always applied so deeply and so widely. Throughout my life, I’ve use what you’ve taught; smile when answering the phone and give your best … put on the smile, be passionate, do what you’re good at. I’m an introverted hermit, but you’d be hard pressed to convince my clients or co-workers of that, I think I’ve finally worked out how to do most of it, the talking other people part.

    The concepts you pass on apply in so many ways, in so many situations. I’ll certainly never forget cleaning the table, take care of the edges and the center will take care of itself. The basics, your unconscious competence, will easily, almost without thought, take care of the regular and general stuff. With attention to detail, expertise and passion, the ability to finish off the fine edges makes it all stand out, more successful and unique. All that I’ve said here is an integration of concepts I’ve learned from you and life. Kudos, good sir.

    • Ian, Thanks for checking in, your kind words and sharing your thoughts. I was always blessed with excellent employees with great insight and strong dedication. We all practiced team work, but knew, as well, our specific jobs. Successful business is not that tough, when you know your job, work hard and apply common sense. I am sure our readers will learn some tips from your comments, as well as from our blog topic. Thanks for taking the time to share. Best, Allen

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