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Is Your Company Full of ‘Dream Builders?’

While I was enjoying Disney World with my family last week, I noticed quite a few signs with quotes from Walt himself; quotes that embodied the spirit of the park and the Disney ethos. The sayings on these signs were so poignant and often times resonated so deeply to what we do as custom integrators.

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” – Willy Wonka

My parents met working at Disneyland in California, so you could definitely say that Disney holds a special place in my heart. And for me, there is no place as full of dreams and magic as Disney, “land” or “World,” depending on your geographic persuasion. At a Disney theme park, practically everything is perfect and designed with the sole purpose of making guests feel as happy and special as possible, turning us all into kids for the day and lifting us out of the “real” world and into something better and more special for the hours we are inside the gates.

While I was enjoying Disney World with my family last week, I noticed quite a few signs posted on the temporary walls and fences around the park. Whenever Disney performs some maintenance or new construction at one of the parks, the area being worked on is fenced off so the perception of disbelief is maintained for guests. It’s not until the work is complete and the new area is ready to be completely unveiled that the walls are taken down, and the pristine project is ready to be enjoyed.

While other places would put up simple, “Pardon our mess!” signs or something similar, Disney filled these signs with quotes from Walt himself; quotes that embodied the spirit of the park and the Disney ethos. The sayings on these signs were so poignant and often times resonated so deeply to what we do as custom integrators, I thought I would share some of them with you.

How many of your customers think what you do is impossible? Turning on every light with a single button? Taming miles of cabling? Turning a boring room into a home theater? Making an entire home easy enough to control via an iPhone? This is all “impossible” for a customer, but it is what we get to do every day.

This reminds me of a kinder, gentler version of the famous Steve Jobs quote, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Our customers usually have no idea what it is they want, but they trust us to deliver for them. They come to us, tell us their dreams, and we turn those into reality.

The day that we quit moving forward and adapting and innovating is the day that our company will begin to die.

This one thing will keep you in business longer than any other piece of advice: Do the best job you can every time and the business will come.

We primarily work with the male head of the household on projects, but we need to remember that our systems will be used by everyone in the home. Everything we do should be easy enough for everyone in the home to use and enjoy.

Disney understood that for a company and a project to be successful, every member of the team was important and all needed to be working toward the same goal. Disney refers to all of the employees in the park as “cast members,” all striving to deliver the same “production” of a great guest experience. Whether they are a janitor, a food server, a ride operator or run one of the (many) gift shops, each cast member is happy and helpful. There are a lot of jobs within a company – sales, accounting, inventory, scheduling, pre-wire, trimout, racking, programming, etc. While some may seem more important or glamorous than others, they all need to be performed correctly for the company to succeed as a whole. And any customer interaction with any employee should be a positive one.

No matter how much you know, how skilled you are, or how great the caliber of work you can do, if you don’t have customers, you won’t have a business. We make customers’ dreams come true, and they in turn keep our dream of a successful business alive. We design and build systems for people, but to be truly successful, we also need to build and foster relationships.

Success is rarely ever easy; it takes hard work and determination. But if you know you are on the right path, stick with it and keep at it.

Ours is an ever-changing industry, requiring constant learning and discovering how things work, both independently and together. This often requires diving in and figuring out “what makes things tick.”

Continuing education? Bringing on a new line? Branching out in to commercial installs? Hiring (or firing) an employee? We can often suffer from analysis paralysis. You can talk something to death and get nowhere; at some point you need to just decide and then pull the trigger and do it.

I’m a big believer in making magic for our clients. In fact, I wrote an entire blog on performing like a magician. Our industry’s ultimate inspiration for creating “another world” is Theo Kalomirakis. A huge part of Theo’s designs is creating tension, excitement and anticipation before someone steps into and sees a movie in one of his theaters. If you can make part of their house feel like they are stepping into another world, congratulations! You’re a magician.

You know who else was considered one of the greatest innovators of all-time? Steve Jobs. Look how much he changed and revolutionized our industry. We should all believe in this.

Deadlines focus people toward completion. Deadlines help stave off procrastination. Ultimately, deadlines get things done. You have to be able to count on your team to get things completed when you need them completed, so all pieces of the larger puzzle can come together. Deadlines should be achievable and realistic, but you’ll discover who the true stars are on your staff when it comes down to deadline crunch time.

This advice is especially applicable if you ever get the opportunity to bid on a mega-install job. These jobs can be amazing, but there is a lot involved, and it requires a ton of planning and coordination to make sure that you don’t end up getting swallowed by it.

Think about it: If you took this attitude every time a new customer rolled out a set of blueprints, how excited do you think you could make them about working with you? Also, it looks like Disney World is going to be adding a Star Wars Land…

While a company’s founder definitely has the entrepreneurial spirt, we should look to foster it in our employees as well. A team of motivated do-ers will definitely help you to “get something going.”

The biggest things start off small. A company started with a single employee. The first work vehicle. The first job. The first check. The first six-figure year. The first six-figure job. The first seven figure year. No matter how big or small your company is, it was probably started with a single idea along the lines that you could do things better. Whatever your founding principal was, make sure you never forget it.

John Sciacca is principal of Custom Theater and Audio in Myrtle Beach, SC.