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Till Talk: You don’t need Disney or Apple money to create a great experience for guests

"I am amazed at how many businesses I see with burnt-out lights on their signs, or cigarettes all over the sidewalk in front of their business."

Till Talk: Take advantage of slack time — before the switch flips

‘Till Talk’ by John Murray offers advice for small business owners.


Hey reader, welcome back to the second installment of Till Talk. I guess I didn’t scare you off.

Today I want to talk owning your guests’ experience. What I mean by this is every element of their experience in your store, at your bar/restaurant, or with your company.

I believe the “bigs” do this better than anyone, and people take notice.

I would like to demonstrate what I mean with a story my father told me a couple years ago. He was at a Disney property with some members of my family. They were between rides, and he stopped for a soda at a concession stand.  He was standing there drinking the soda and waiting for the the family to be ready for the next ride when he saw a Disney employee with a tablet focused on a flower bed off one of the paths.

My father, who is in business himself and is also not shy, walked up to the guy and asked him what he was doing with the tablet and the flowerbed.  The Disney employee explained there were supposed to be five plants on either side of the rock in the middle of the garden. So, his job that day was to walk around and make sure all the flowerbeds followed the schematics that Disney had set forth. He was notifying the maintenance department that they needed to come by and plant another flower on the left side of the flower bed, because one of them had been pulled out. 

The rest of us  don’t have anywhere near the budget or the human resources a global company like Disney might, but there is a lesson here:

We can all be more focused on the details — just like Disney is.

Over the years I have noticed that some of the forces in industry are obsessed with details. The details start with the cleanliness and maintenance of your business from the sidewalk. I am amazed at how many businesses I see with burnt-out lights on their signs, or cigarettes all over the sidewalk in front of their business. It just shows a lack of care and attention.

One of the best examples I can think of are the Apple Stores. They are clean, sleek, and minimalist. The star of the show is the products.

Years ago I saw a local restaurant operator doing something I thought was crazy: power washing the sidewalks around their property. I thought about it for a little while. The message they are sending is that they are clean, professional operators, even before you step inside their restaurant. It’s no surprise to me now the restaurant chain is wildly successful.

Our sidewalks outside Kilwins in Babylon and Patchogue are now power washed every year. 

So today’s message is to own the experience, inside and outside your business.  If you don’t have a physical retail location, the initial contact starts when someone calls your office. We all have experienced “good phone” and “bad phone” when calling somewhere. Aim for “good phone.” Own the experience. 

About the author: John Murray, III

John Murray, III is the owner of Kilwins Babylon Village and Kilwins Patchogue Village. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Wantagh. When not serving chocolate and fudge, you can find him high-fiving Jason Aldean in the pit at Jones Beach Ampitheater.