Walmart is bringing back what we should have in the first place.
Sam Walton had a dream.
It was of a big store with a small town feel.
That’s why he put cheery greeters right inside the front doors, to say hello to everyone that entered, direct them to the appropriate aisle . . . and give each customer a little “mom and pop” like love.
In 2012, the suits at Walmart “reassigned” all of Sam’s greeters . . . thinking they were more valuable tidying shelves.
And, as karma would have it, shoplifting increased. (I’d argue that it was not only because the greeters served as an extra set of security eyes . . . but also because it’s harder to steal from “mom and pop” than it is from a big-box store with no personality.)
But there is good news for Sam’s legacy . . . the greeters are coming back! This summer, if you head to a Walmart, chances are you’ll be welcomed to the store with a smile and a “Hello” as you look for your sunscreen, underwear, patio furniture, etc.
Wouldn’t it be great if every show on Broadway had a Show Greeter? Like a maître d’ at a restaurant . . . or a concierge at a hotel (but less snooty than both). I know we have house managers and ushers, but they’re too busy with the logistics of getting 1,500 people seated by 8 PM to give the extra touch of service I’m talking about (and they work for the theaters, not for the show). A Show Greeter could welcome people to the show, point people to the merch counter, collect email addresses, take pictures, hand out flyers with social media calls to action, etc. There’s no doubt that the promotional work this Greeter could do would pay for his/her salary easily. (We experimented with a greeter at Godspell that we called “Godspell Girl” who was a big success – she even had her own twitter account.)
And this isn’t just for Broadway shows. Non-profits around the country, regional theaters, community theaters . . . all could benefit from having a Walmart-like greeter.
Because the more welcomed a customer feels at your theater, the more likely they will want to come back.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.