ORLANDO, FL — Can a company with 55,000 employees dealing in the fun and games of entertainment offer any advice to companies with often less than 100 employees dealing with the down and dirty of plumbing and heating?

The answer is yes, because two keynote speakers from the Disney Institute presented sessions at the most recent Quality Service Contractor’s Power Meeting here.

According to Disney’s Gwen Burch, “We are profit driven. We deal with real business issues. And we face serious competition.” These are challenges faced by contractors as well. And given Disney’s well-documented profitability, perhaps some of the ways it does business can be adapted by contractors.

Quality service to Disney means “exceeding guest [customer] expectations and paying attention to detail.” Exceeding expectations, said Burch, means maintaining cleanliness and friendliness beyond the already high level expected. Details are “that something extra.” Disney refers to that as “bumping the lamp,” a reference to the animated and live action movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, in which a live character bumps a lamp, causing it to swing. The animated rabbit has the shadow of the moving lamp cast upon him. “It wasn’t necessary to do that,” said Burch, but it gave that movie that something extra.

She emphasized the importance of market research in determining customer needs. “If we are going to build it for them, we cannot guess at who they are and what they want.”

Burch noted that the company’s number-one priority is safety, followed by courtesy, performance, and efficiency.

Hiring employees is based more on potential than skills. “We hire attitude then train for skill. We have to create an environment where everybody buys into it. It doesn’t take long to train as long as it is done with clarity.”

Leadership Guides Service

Successful service results from solid leadership. That was the message of a second Disney speaker, Mary Cooper. “Every leader is telling a story about what he or she values. Action speaks louder than words.”

It is important that the boss has a vision for the organization, she said. “The key to unlocking the future lies in first understanding the past. Before you visualize where you want to go, take a moment to think about where your organization, including your divisions and departments, has been, and its current status.”

Next, she urged the audience of business owners to focus on one aspect of his or her company and visualize what it might be in the future. “Visualize what a phenomenal success looks like, changes that have taken place [to get there], and how those changes have positively affected the organization.”

A leader also has to show “behaviors to get others involved in your vision.” That involves the “transfer of power and decision-making authority, providing [employees] with the opportunity for education, and allocating the appropriate resources to allow [employees] to do their jobs.”

Generation X

A speaker doing double-duty at the conference was Bob Losyk of Innovative Training Solutions, Fort Lauderdale. His first talk focused on Generation X, those employees between the ages of 21 and 35.

“They are enthusiastic, creative, and energetic, but they need to be taught responsibility and need to be taught to accept the consequences of their actions,” Losyk said.

Before hiring such people, tell them what it is like on the job, he said. “Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Tell them what the worst day on the job is like.”

Motivation may mean “using contests and games; making work fun when possible.” That may go against the grain of some bosses, he said. “But remember, your value system is very different than this generation’s. No matter how hard you try, you will not change their value system.”

Losyk’s second session was on time management. He encouraged audience members to brainstorm on their worst time consumers, and how contractors can overcome them. One comment involved satellite store managers constantly calling for direction. More decision-making power was delegated to them and managers were told to call only once a day.

Losyk suggested that contractors keep a time log for two or three weeks, “to determine where you are wasting time.” Since that process lasts only a limited period, it does not itself become a long-range time consumer.

Another objective is to prioritize and ask, “Am I working toward my objectives?”

Among Losyk’s suggestions:

  • Learn to say no forcefully but not rudely.
  • Learn to delegate.
  • Attempt to keep a clean desk and not handle a piece of paper more than once.
  • Center your time on the high-payoff tasks and concentrate on the results.


    Building bridges to new clients was the theme of a seminar from Ronald B. Resnikoff of Mitchell & Resnikoff. He described a customer as “anybody but you.”

    He noted that, “You and your staff all have to want new clients. It is a team effort.”

    He reviewed a concept he calls “Stairway to Heaven” with six levels of customers. In this regard, he noted, “Don’t treat everyone equally or you will go out of business.”

    The first step he called “suspects — Don’t waste your money on these.”

    Second were “prospects where marketing skills are required”; third, “leads — where selling skills are required”; fourth, “buyers — where trust is built”; fifth, “clients — where repeat money is made”; and sixth, “advocates — where referrals come from and businesses are built. Now this is heaven!”

    For a listing of QSC’s board members and other news, visit www.achrnews.com.

    Sidebar: INSIDE QSC

    In other developments at the most recent Quality Service Contractor’s (QSC’s) Power Meeting in Orlando, FL, R. Scott Ziegler was again selected as chair of the QSC board of trustees. He is with Ray A. Shaffer Inc. of Schwenksville, PA.

    In addition, the board consists of vice chair Keith Bienvenu, Bienvenu Brothers Enterprises, Metairie, LA; Steve Burch, Modern Plumbing Co., Pasadena, TX; Rebecca Gold, Wigginton’s Plumbing Services, Salida, CO; Roger Peugeot, Roger the Plumber, Overland Park, KS; Lawrence Snow, Anytime Plumbing, Las Vegas, NV; and Bob Murphy, PlumbMaster, Concord, PA. QSC’s executive director is Charlie Wallace, and the organization’s offices are in Falls Church, VA.

    Sidebar: QSC in Brief

    Quality Service Contractors (QSC) was formed in 1994 when residential service and repair contractors within the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors (PHCC) National Association were looking for a group with a focus on their unique needs.

    QSC functions as a self-supporting, non-profit organization within PHCC. It refers to itself as “an enhanced service group.”

    PHCC member companies do not have to join QSC, but QSC members have to belong to PHCC.

    The organization holds two “power meetings” a year (the next one in September in conjunction with PHCC annual meeting in Reno, NV).

    Other aspects include a home study program, “fax first” to answer urgent questions, a newsletter, training manuals, and “peer group networking.”

    Publication date: 03/05/2001