Lessons Learned from the Sight and Sound Theater – Part 5 of 5: Summarizing What We have Learned

by Tom Grandy

Let’s recap what we have learned from the Sight and Sound Theater.

Mission Statement
It’s important to know where you are going but even more important to know why you are going there. The overall purpose of a mission statement is to set the direction of the company.  Once the mission statement is created the challenge is to be sure the entire staff, office, and techs, not only know what the mission of the company is but are able to convey that mission to the customer.  That is the challenge of company owners today.

Hiring and Training Employees
You will remember how the Sight and Sound organization only hired employees who had a personal vision that matched the company mission.  Actors were required to learn multiple scripts as they were not assigned their part until one hour before show time. Translated, ALL employees were cross trained for multiple positions.

The final food for thought was this:  There was no job security!  We talked about the TV ads for stocks.  The byline said, “Past performance is no guarantee of future performance”.  At the conclusion of each season ALL actors had to re-apply to be chosen to be part of the next production.  If they have performed well over the past year they would be considered as part of the new cast but there was no guarantee of future employment simply because they may have done a good job in the past.  I want to challenge you to see how you might apply this principle to your company and its workforce.

Long Range Planning
New presentations don’t just appear each year.  Each show goes through a detailed, planned, development process that takes nearly three years from conception to show time.  Every aspect of the customer experience is planned in detail. The same is true for your business.  Providing outstanding customer experiences day after day, month after month, and year after year will not happen without a great deal of planning and training.  The result for the Sight and Sound Theater is gross sales exceeding $75,000,000 per year with a healthy net profit. However, it is important to note that it’s their mission that drives the company to provide a consistent customer experience.  Profit just happens to be the fruit of having accomplished those two goals.

Marketing is essential for any business including the Sight and Sound Theater.  An outstanding overall marketing program is essential for any new business but the overall goal is to create happy repeat customers that will recommend your products and services to others.  To be sure that is happening the company needs to measure and evaluate its success on a regular basis.  If the mission is being accomplished and an outstanding customer experience is being provided, the measure of success will be an increasing percentage of repeat and referral customers.  To “know” that is happening means the numbers need to be tracked.

Training for the Unexpected
We talked about how the animals used during the performance were not just well trained but were trained for the unexpected.  Most quality employees will be able to perform time and again under normal circumstances.  However, the really valuable employees are those that adapt well when things don’t go as planned.  That will not just happen.  That will require forethought and training well in advance of the actual circumstance coming about.

You will remember that the Sight and Sound Theater did not expand to its second location in Branson, Missouri until every aspect of their production and marketing process had become a well-oiled “system”.  Most company owners are thinking, at least in the back of their mind, that one day they will expand.  That might mean expanded coverage from their current location or it might mean adding a location.  In either case it will require long range planning.  This is talked out as the company hires employees that will one day become managers.  It involves purchasing equipment of high quality that will last a long time and be able handle many types of work.  Eventual expansion also means developing an outstanding marketing program that can be duplicated in other locations.  As the everyday process is being accomplished expansion is always in the back of the owner’s mind and it indirectly drives their everyday decision making.

Yes, there is much to be learned from successful companies like the Sight and Sound Theater.  Becoming successful in the long run will require detailed planning centered on a very solid mission statement that all employees embrace and walk out with each and every day.

By the way, if you are ever in Lancaster, Pennsylvania or Branson, Missouri be sure to take in a Sight and Sound show.  You will be glad you did.

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