I recently spoke with Paul Turner, director of event operations at the Dallas Cowboys stadium. He was recruited to this position from the Philadelphia Eagles 2.5 years ago.
According to Turner, his department is the watchdog for the overall guest experience and the quality of the show and his job is to make sure that there is an infrastructure to consistently deliver on all of the promises that the sales team makes. Here’s how he framed his responsibilities: “We are in the experience business; we can’t guarantee a win.”
Creating a consistently good event experience is not an easy task. There are only a handful of events every year, so most of the game-day staff is made up of part-time employees — and it’s a very diverse workforce. Making the situation even more difficult, there are many organizations working at the Stadium, including other companies like the food service provider, Legends Hospitality.
Paul’s approach has been to create a “culture of service” that is built around the organization’s service mission statement:
We are service professionals at the world’s finest venue creating an exceptional experience for our guests in a safe, clean and friendly environment
The mission statement was created by doing research with the senior executives, so it is widely supported by the Cowboy’s executive team. Turner is empowered by the feeling that even Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner, is supportive of this mission statement.
Part of the indoctrination for all new employees is to break down the service mission statement into its component parts, beginning with the first word. Employees are taught that ““We” we are all in this together. We collectively succeed or fail.” And with “service professionals,” employees are made to recognize that the organization plans to treat them like professionals; which, in return, means that they will be held to a high standard of performance.
The staff is also trained on the service mission statement at the beginning of every season and it is reinforced in just about every communication. It’s at the top of all of their game-day materials and training collateral.
Because of the periodic nature of the events, they can’t burden employees with a lot of procedural knowledge. Employees are given a handbook and told that they’ll be doing the right thing if they use the mission statement as their guide.
What does Turner consider his biggest accomplishment? He’s seen a lot of buy-in and the organization hasn’t gotten distracted with a lot of messages; it’s stayed focus on the service mission statement. Turner explained that with a casual workforce, you need consistency.
And, yes, I did admit to Paul that I am a Patriots fan. But only at the very end of our discussion. 🙂
The bottom line: There’s a lot of power in simple, consistent messages