Learning From Walt Disney


Walt Disney was a genius.  He knew what we needed before we knew it.

Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.
Walt Disney

 by Beth Pautsch via her email to her team:

I just spent 10 days jumping from Disney to Universal to Busch Gardens to SeaWorld etc…..  The roller coasters at Busch Gardens and Universal are phenomenal compared to Disney.  The animals and interaction with them are significantly better at Sea World and Busch Gardens than Animal Kingdom at Disney.  The snacks and beverages were less expensive at the other parks and were quite tasty also.  The couple shows we saw were good at all parks.  After thinking about it for a bit, I have put my finger on one thing that was very different that could account for the reason Disney parks were swamped and the rest were just so-so.  In every interaction we had with a Disney employee, we were treated like we were the only customer they had talked to that day, and their enthusiasm about what they were doing made us smile.  I knew they were saying the same thing every 2 minutes, but it didn’t matter to them.  Always remember – our customers may be doing the only cabinet project they will do in their lifetime.  It is a HUGE deal.  Treat them like it is HUGE to you too and they will deal better with the long lines, the screaming kids, and the huge price tags:)  You will have created a customer that knows the competition may have some things better than you do, but the experience with you is worth giving up some things – this is a lifelong customer.  They will take care of our futures.

Never worry about your career and the future, worry about your customers satisfaction, the rest is minor.

How to Help a Very Tough Customer

If you are in the business of helping people and selling products you have probably been there, THE VERY VERY UPSET CUSTOMER.

If it hasn’t happened to you, no matter your reputation or what you think you do great, you simply don’t have enough customers yet.  (For instance my children have never had complaints on their lemonade stand.)  A very upset customer, a very tough situation, is going to happen.

So what do you do?

I believe there is a learned process, just like learning a sales process, to handle these steps.  Experience of course helps, but so does knowledge.  I have worked with a lot of people with years of experience that still handle these problems very poorly.

When we handle these poorly, it of course hurts your reputation (and it’s important to note, these upset customers may never LOVE you, but maybe they will at least understand or respect your business) and it is also stressful and often really wears on you.  Yes, handling it badly can really affect YOU and THE CUSTOMER and YOUR BUSINESS.

So, let’s get to it, what’s the process?

One that Drexel account manager Chris Reilly loves to use is H.E.A.T.  (NO it’s not a Lebron throwdown.  But a way to help customers.)   He keeps it taped to his monitor.

H.  Hear them out.  Really listen.  A person yells and is loud because they feel they are not being listened to.  They will start to calm down if they feel you are listening.  So pay attention.  Listen actively – take notes.  Nod your head.  Look at the person and pay attention.  Say “Uh huh” , “Oh, I see”, “Yes, I understand”, etc.

E.  Empathize – it’s not our jobs to be judgmental about whether or not this person deserves to be mad.  They are upset, and we have to help them through it.  Using statements like “That would be a difficult situation” and focusing on using a caring tone of voice will help a lot.

A. Ask Questions – our customers don’t know our buzz-words, jargon or processes.  Make sure you clarify exactly what the problem is so you can work towards fixing it.

T. Take Responsibility – our customers look at government like a huge big black hole. It’s mysterious to most and downright scary to some.  If you build a bridge to an upset customer they will calm down.  Saying something like “I understand your concerns.  My name is Wendi (use your own name).  I’ve helped people in this situation before.  Don’t worry, we’ll get through this together” will help set a customer’s mind at ease.

That’s awesome.  Just a few things I will add.

“Be quick, but don’t hurry.”– John Wooden     To truly help a customer, try to come up with a few possible solutions and then present them to the customer.  Do this as quickly as possible.  Delaying in this will only make the matter worse than it already is.  Douse the flames!   But don’t hurry for a response, let the person consult with others (many will) and some just need time to figure out you are not a big corporate rat trying to screw them.

Do “it” as a team.  Involve as many people as possible from your organization.  It’s a great learning lesson for newbies, seeing it from many views helps, and working as a team vs. solo shares the burden and stress, we can lean on each others. If there are third, four party, businesses related to this, now is the time to include them too for their unique perspective.

Be as honest, transparent, and blunt as possible.  Now is not the time to sugarcoat, save face, or down right lie.  If the customer’s expectation was too high (that’s still your fault, for making it that high!) explain that to them.  If you screwed up admit it.

Never throw anyone under the bus or pass the baton.  There usually is no reason to do this.  If it truly is not your fault, don’t pass the buck. Hand the problem personally to that person.  I didn’t say this was easy, just the best way.  Remember the customer doesn’t want who is responsible, it wants the problem fixed.  Finding who to blame is not solving anything.

It’s NOT EASY.  But if you are in sales, management, or ownership YOU DID SIGN UP FOR IT AND IT IS PART OF YOUR JOB.  It will never go away so be ready for it.  It’s like expecting it will never rain again and then when it does, you lose sleep over it.  Don’t be that guy!

Don’t threaten or sue or go to mediation.  No one wins but lawyers.  Even they admit that.

Suck it up and move on.  Seriously.

DO NOT LET EMOTIONS get into it.  This is business.  When you take it personally (I thought we were friends, I put so much time into it, I didn’t even charge that much, why aren’t they upset about “X” instead) you will get emotional, confrontational and much worse.  Refuse to get emotional.  Just the facts maam.  Just the facts.

Thank them.  OVER AND OVER.  This is not easy for them.  They didn’t want this either.  Somewhere a customer is EVEN MADDER than this customer and they never called you.  That’s worse right?  So, thank them.

Whatever you put in an email, pretend and assume it will be forwarded and put on your facebook page, or on their facebook page.  Read it and if you are proud of what it says and can stand by it, send it.  If you can’t, fix your wording.

Speaking of e-mails…Chain of critical communication goes like this:

face to face




You wouldn’t get a text if your mom dies.  You wouldn’t have to meet face to face to schedule coffee with a friend.

Handle it and assume you will run into them weekly at church and they will be sitting behind you.  That will help you think of them as a person and not “a customer.”

I don’t have people sign off that “they will never bad mouth me again.”  What, are you really going to sue them?  Is this a professional way to end? I can’t see any reason to do it, but to annoy the customer one final time.

If you think you have a lot of these people, maybe you do.  Start tracking them and learn from them.  Maybe IT IS YOU.  Maybe you are doing awesome, but that ONE PERSON is making you re-think everything.  Look back is this an isolated case or something you are doing wrong.  If you decide isolated, MOVE ON AND go take care of your current customers, they are waiting…

Hope this helps.  I am not perfect either.  But we can always get better, even at tough tasks like this.

– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is the president & Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam.com).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.  He has provided solutions for builders and their clients since 1996 and a whole bunch of other stuff that you probably don’t care about.

30 years of Excellence

Beth Pautsch, a true leader, and yet another person that inspires me to be great shared this with her team.  I now share it with the world.


Next Tuesday officially marks 30 years since I started doing cabinetry sales and design.  It seems like just yesterday. http://mentalfloss.com/article/49431/30-things-turning-30-year

This link proves it was not just yesterday and that there was life before McNuggets. Thank goodness I have not gotten any older.  My start in cabinetry was selling with a door carousel and drawing plans on graph paper with carbon paper behind (No copy machine yet).  Orders were mailed to cabinet factories and I patiently waited for acknowledgements to be mailed back to me.  Not only before email – but even before Fax!  For a break this week I thought I would list a couple things I have picked up over the years:

No one will die if a cabinet is late, it is just a HUGE inconvenience.  Be sympathetic and layout next steps in process

The jobs that “go to hell” are never the ones you expect – and the scary ones turn into masterpieces

Listen to the little voice in the back of your head

Continuous learning is a necessity in our profession

There are hundreds of ways to do each project and we must decipher which is the right way for each job

How we fix problems defines who we are

Do not take business decisions personally

Never measure anything when you do not feel good

Having a job where you can smile at work is a great thing

Doing the right thing is the right thing to do

People are very different and we must be chameleons to blend with all

If you think you may have measured something wrong, you probably did

Our success is impossible without a strong team behind us doing the hard work

I am the worlds luckiest person to be here.  Can’t wait for the next 30!


And that is awesome.

— Joel


It’s Monday.  My favorite day, anything can happen on a Monday. (I know it’s true because my outlook calendar tells me this every Monday.)


And if all this failed to inspire you… try this…


I can I will I must.

This guy called the hip hop preacher does a new video every Monday.  TGIM.  He’s into season 8.

And THINK BIG, THE FUTURE is as bright as you can ever imagine– and the after life is BETTER than you CAN EVER imagine.  Watch this…the future!

– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is the president & Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam.com).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.  He has provided solutions for builders and their clients since 1996 and a whole bunch of other stuff that you probably don’t care about.