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Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence Comes to Valpo

Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence Comes to Valpo

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With over 60,000 employees, millions of loyal customers of all ages, and decades of delivering their products and services to the world, Disney knows a thing or two about business. So who better to teach other businesses about what works and what doesn't work than the experts at Disney? Each year, thousands of business owners and employees travel to Orlando or destinations around the country to study with Disney experts on how to amp up their own businesses, but thanks to the Valpo Chamber, no traveling is necessary as they host the world-renown Disney Institute on Tuesday, August 16th from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Valparaiso University's Harre Union, 1509 Chapel Drive. This one-day event entitled "Disney's Approach to Business Excellence" is aimed at businesses of all sizes and challenges businesses owners and employees to take a look at their own business, no matter what size, in an entirely new light.

The Disney Institute showcases the powerful strategies and business models that are the cornerstones of the Disney organization's long-term success. Attendees will learn how to apply innovative Disney strategies to their own organization for immediate results. Disney's Approach to Business Excellence offers a look into Disney's Approach to Leadership Excellence, People Management, Quality Service, and Brand Loyalty. Kurt Gillins, programs director for the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce says, "The Valpo Chamber always strives to bring the best programming to the members of the business community and with Disney Institute, participants will be able to gain insight from one of the largest corporations in the world. This is the first time Disney Institute has visited Northwest Indiana and the response so far is huge. It is evident that many of the largest companies as well as the smallest companies in Northwest Indiana see the value in such a workshop as this."

Donna Flanagin, owner of Flanagin's Bulk Mail Service in Valparaiso, says that her experience with the Disney Institute has been invaluable to her business. "In 2008 I went to Orlando and took their course. It was made for all kinds of businesses. It was wonderful and I brought back a lot of inspiration, which is the real word that's behind it all. I have since taken a one day course in Indianapolis and sent other employees as well. We learned about creativity and customer service, which we all know is important, but so many people don't really look through the eyes of the customer. Disney really talks a lot about how different things look through the eyes of a customer. As a result, courtesy has become part of our core values; to treat the customer with respect is above all. The quality of our work gets our customer to come back, as well as our efficiency. We were able to evaluate these values when we came back. We also considered how to make creativity part of our business environment and we wanted our customers to understand that we're a fun place to do business and so we designed signs for our parking lot that embraced this idea of creativity. We get a lot of comments from our customers that they love them. In our entryway we redesigned our store that evolved from our time at Disney, and we've ended up increasing our social media and blogging," says Flanagin.

Of course, Flanagin, whose employees have been to multiple Disney Institute sessions, says that they will be returning to the Valpo session. She says, "I'm very excited they are coming here locally. In the past you had to go to Chicago or Indy. To have them come right here to Valpo is very exciting and we'll be going again. Everybody will enjoy it, and we've continued to go. It's a huge opportunity to learn from somebody who knows how to do it and they're opening up their blueprint. How awesome is that? How many businesses do you know that give you their business blueprint? It's worth every penny."

Jon Groth, principal of the Porter County Career and Technical Center also says he and his organization benefitted greatly from the successful direction of the Disney Institute. Groth says, "I took the Disney course when I first started this job, 18 years ago. It was a program down in Orlando at the time and it was really excellent. They talked about getting everybody involved in customer relations, so if somebody at Disneyland, a street sweeper, saw a kid who dropped his ice cream cone, that employee would have the authorization to take the kid to the ice cream shop to fix the problem. If someone saw a person's hat blow off on a ride, any employee could take that customer to hat stand to get their hat back. This philosophy meant a lot to me, that all of their employees were considered cast members. I am planning on attending again because it's a great opportunity. I'm happy the chamber is bringing them here because you might as well learn from the best and Disney is the best."

For Margaret Griggs, office manager at Laciak Accountancy Group, attending the Disney Institute through her previous work experience gave her skills to last throughout her career. "They take you through facilitated discussions, exercises that are fun but also educate you, and then there's discussion. They take you through a process, to help you identify a theme for your company that everybody in all levels of the organization knows that this is how we do it. This is what we mean to the customer. You bring it back into your local business to be able to orientate your employees to create a service standard which we all, in unity, can deliver consistently and uniformly to our customers, so they have a memorable experience every time they walk into our business. They are very short and simple so everyone can grab onto them. Disney has successfully been able to do this at their corporation so that no matter where you go, every employee knows the standards and how important they are. If Disney can align 60,000 employees, then we better be able to do it with our staff which is significantly smaller," Griggs says.

Disney's Approach to Business Excellence is $400 per person; payment options available. Contact Kurt Gillins for more information at or 219-462-1105.



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