Four Proactive Moves Family Entertainment Companies Should Make In 2022

Tim Murphy is CEO of Boomers Parks, which comprises eight parks, six family entertainment centers and two water parks.

Although many leaders are looking forward to what management will look like in the post-pandemic “next normal,” I have become quick to caution that we are not out of the woods just yet. The looming pandemic still colors every decision leaders make for their teams, and plans for 2022 are no exception. 

You have to talk about 2021 first, what you went through and what will be different in 2022. Reflecting on what you experienced as a business owner in 2021 will inform the way you proactively approach your moves in 2022. I have put together a guide to prioritizing proactive thinking for the family entertainment industry in the new year. While this list is by no means exhaustive, following these tenets could provide a good launchpad for success in 2022 and beyond.

1. Have a people-power mindset.

One of the primary considerations for my organization and many others is the question of selectivity of employees. Bringing good people into your organization will bolster your business as a whole. Investing in top talent and fostering their growth within your organization is always money well spent. 

In some ways, employers might not have had the opportunity to select who they really wanted in 2021. Factors like the affordability of high-level employees, the Great Resignation’s toll on staffing and demands for higher pay in the service industry can all affect teambuilding. As such, your hiring experience might have been hit or miss in 2021. However, in 2022, you need to ask the question, “Do we have the right people?” Leaders must work on getting long-term players on board. When thinking of family entertainment, customer-facing employees play a big part in giving the public what they want: a fun, memorable experience.

2. Change the landscape of where work happens.

One of the most significant shifts the pandemic wrought was the move to remote work. Organizations in every industry learned that their people could be productive working from home. The overhead of a brick-and-mortar office space may not be necessary in every case.

Changing the landscape of where work happens also includes hitting the road. Amid the pandemic, I did just that: I visited different parks and saw first-hand how customers interacted with our family entertainment experience. I wanted to see what guests see and allow that information to inform proactive moves for the business. 

Getting pushed out of the office and into the field allows leaders to look beyond the numbers. It might also allow them to see something else: that changes made on account of the pandemic should have probably always been in place. Considerations such as peak cleanliness, maintenance and customer service that went into overdrive during Covid-19 have left a legacy, and they deserve to be lasting tenants of running any service-based business. 

There can be a real positive effect to leaning into face-to-face interaction, a “boots on the ground” approach to leading a company. The pandemic has made the front-line workers more adept at what the customer or guest wants. If you’re more dialed in, then you’re providing the service that guests are ultimately clamoring for.

3. Think outside of the box.

The pandemic has been a trying time for everyone, leaders included. If there is one to be found, I believe the silver lining to this upheaval has been the time organizations had to think differently about their businesses. Embrace a general thought process of “What should I do differently?” This allows for quicker changes to take place. 

Vertical thinking is an “all in a silo” culture. In this makeup, you can’t see everything. You have to constantly rethink the structure and flatten that structure from vertical to horizontal. With that, you’re apt to get out to your locations, out of your office and enact quick changes. 

Thinking differently also means getting back to basics. Level up your approach to service, work on providing stellar attention to detail, talk to people and be polite and pleasant. This approach might seem simplistic, but after weathering the pandemic experience together for as long as we have as a nation, sometimes a simple smile and friendly approach go a long way.

4. Confront the reality of rising costs.

Inflation is here and will likely stick around for a while. Costs are increasing across the board for everything from supplies to staff. I encourage leaders not to hide from the realities of rising prices but to plan for them. This pre-planning can include reassessing talent, benefits and upgrading offerings for customers. 

You can’t think “same old, same old.” You have to be proactive about people, processes and growth. Companies should continue to think about how to set themselves up for growth against the rising tide of soaring costs. Is there another company you can form a partnership with? Can your company integrate some advanced technology to draw new customers? 

Growth includes acknowledging who an organization’s customer is and who they might not be. This acknowledgment might come with some sweeping changes to deliverables and levels of service. 

Ensure a top-notch experience and, in turn, ensure returning customers, even in the face of possible rising prices. When the service is exceptional, price becomes less of a factor. With a laser focus on quality team building and creating incredible experiences for guests, you can lead your team into 2022 with a clear, proactively formed vision.

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