Give the Public Everything You Can Give Them
"Give the people everything you can give them."
These were the immortal words of one Walt Disney regarding the way Disneyland should be operated.
The concept seems simple and obvious, but it actually contradicts some of the conventional wisdom in business administration.
When institutions and individuals transact business with each other, it is in the interests of each party to think and work to better the positions of the other parties.
It is counterproductive to ever think of an opposing party in a transaction as an adversary or to think that his, her, or its interests are in competition with one's own.
The purpose of the transaction is to uncover as much mutual benefit as is possible.
Before 1955, Walt Disney looked at amusement parks and derided their "sharp practices designed to milk the pocketbook of the visitor".
Under Eisner, however, Disney lost the founder's distaste for many of these practices. Under Eisner, Disney would never leave any money on the table in negotiations. Under Eisner, budgets were cut with abandon. And, under Eisner, Disney held its employee compensation at Disneyland stagnant for more than two decades. The result was a series of commercial failures.
When Robert Iger was posed at the latest shareholders' meeting with a question regarding Disneyland's low wages, he responded in a straightforward way when he said that the interests of employees and shareholders are in competition with each other. There are several examples, though, where that view is not necessarily true and where Walt Disney's principles of management have successfully been applied. Yesterday, I happened to run across yet another. Here it is:
The article doesn't say exactly how Bigari's margins rose three percentage points, but one assumes that a combination of increased productivity and increased goodwill were attributable for the change.
The moment was a wake–up call for Bigari, and the start of something wonderful. Instead of taking from his employees, he would give. Not to be a saint – but to increase his bottom line.
Since his profit margins were already razor thin, he couldn’t afford to give raises, but he realized that he could address some of the problems that often kept his employees from doing their best work.
As members of the working poor, Bigari’s employees were often completely derailed by things that are minor inconveniences for the rest of us – like a broken down car or a rent increase. So Bigari started giving no–interest loans to employees to cover things like new tires, rental deposits, medicine and emergency babysitters. He worked with a local church to help employees get daycare, and he started buying inexpensive cars at police auctions and selling them to employees at cost.
The result: His profit margin rose by more than three percentage points, and his employee turnover dropped to at or below 100 percent. Of the $300,000 he loaned out over 10 years, only $960 was not returned.