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Flawless Execution Lessons from Detroit Kid City

 
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This weekend I had the pleasure to work a birthday party at Detroit Kid City (DKC) in Southfield, MI. DKC is an Educ-aintment (education + entertainment) facility, where children of the Detroit Metro Area can come to play in a marvelous little city filled with imagination, while their parents enjoy a 100% organic café where they roast their own coffee and make their own smoothies. DKC is truly an example of all that is right with the world. Their facilities are state of the art, their customer service is top notch and the cleanliness is admirable (#1 in my book). Check them out: Detroit Kid City.

How did I get this wonderful gig? Well, I had the opportunity to connect with Garret and Laura Dixon, the founders and owners of DKC, as they commenced their efforts to franchise DKC. Garret and Laura are wonderful people who have created a great organization and brand. You should be so lucky to be in business with them. As part of the vetting process, the Dixon’s invited my wife and I to come work a birthday party to see what DKC is all about. We jumped at the opportunity as we wanted to learn more, but also because I love to peak behind the curtain of successful small businesses. I mean, when you get a chance to see something that works first hand you take it, right?

The party was wonderful. From the store manager, to the greeter, to the floor supervisor, everyone was not only a delight but very good at what they do. They gave this precious 4-year-old girl a party to remember and the execution of it could not have been better. So... now I am taking what I have learned from that day and sharing with you so that you can apply it to your line of work. We could all be more like DKC. Here it goes:

YOU CAN HAVE ANY COLOR AS LONG AS IT IS BLACK

Detroit Kid City has streamlined their parties into specific packages that will allow parents to not worry about choices and ensure that their party is not only great, but that THEY are also enjoying it with their children. The package is simple. You get 2 hours of play, 1 hour of eating and singing Happy Birthday, pizza, smoothies, and cupcakes. You get to choose if you will offer your guests a full coffee bar or limited selection. That’s it. Boom. I am pretty sure that Barry Swartz, author of the Paradox of Choice would be delighted. Limited offerings will set you free. Parents will not be overwhelmed or paralyzed by multiple selections. They get what they get and they don’t get upset.

Limited options also provide consistency that leads to quality products and services. Same vendors, same orders, same quality control. When you go to a DKC party you know exactly what you are getting. Better yet, you will focus on the play and not what flavor ice cream to get. Take this to heart and see what can do to simplify your offerings and set your customers free.

WRITE IT DOWN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD

Everything at Detroit Kid City is labeled. I mean, EVERYTHING. From the staff lockers, to the instructions on how to make a mean Motor City Mocha, to their training manuals and party guides. Everything is printed, laminated, and easily accessible for the entire staff. Having this detail of documentation allows for consistency in their products, it ensures that the staff knows what their responsibilities are, and it diminishes the room for error. When the instructions on how to make a strawberry banana smoothie are at your fingertips there is no way of screwing it up.

This obsession with documentation does not only help with accuracy, but it also provides flexibility. Because instructions and labels are all around, floor supervisors can quickly step in for greeters, who can go help the café attendant if things are busy. Yes, it is a lot of work, but man does it payoff. Even a shmuck like me who never worked a coffee bar before was able to contribute.

Whatever is in that beautiful head of yours, write it down. Make standard operating procedures. Put up flyers, labels, sticky notes. Whatever it takes to ensure that things get done according to your vision and expectation. People can’t read minds, but they can sure read the heck out of step-by-step instructions.

CARING IS 70% OF PERFORMANCE

In order to throw multiple birthday parties, for other people’s kids nonetheless, on almost every weekend, you need a labor of love. I don’t care how much you are getting paid, I have three kids and I know how much that takes out of you. The owners and employees of Detroit Kid City love it! They want to give these kids the most unforgettable experience they possibly can. They want their coworkers to have a good time while doing it, and they want Detroit Kid City to succeed as a company. Then, they clean up and do it all over again, and again, and again.

The reason Detroit Kid City is successful is because they care. From the owners, to patrons, to the employees. They import coffee machines from Italy to give parents the best coffee possible while kids are having an amazing time on the play floor. They only sell Michigan products to support small business in the state. Now that they are looking to franchise they are going through an incredibly extensive vetting process because it matters who will become part of this amazing organization. Money be damned, there is more at stake here. That is why it works.

When you get back to work after reading this blog (you know who you are) think about what you care about. Is it enough? Are you giving it your all? Would you be willing to sacrifice yourself because you care more about what you are doing than your reward? If so, you might just have found your purpose. Just like Garret and Laura at Detroit Kid City have.

Andre Mello is a Business Coach and loves him some Detroit Kid City. He has been in leadership and marketing for over 16 years. If you would like to connect with Andre please visit www.wysecoaching.com.

 
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