18 Jul The Circle of Happiness
By: Matt Silvers, Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Brand Development
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Zipping along at about 580 miles per hour, 38,000 feet above the Midwest certainly provides one with a spectacular vantage point. As I jet south to Austin from Madison, Wisconsin, where we just opened our sixth Flix Brewhouse on the evening of July 5, it occurs to me that from this elevated perspective, there are multiple Flix Brewhouse locations either operating or soon to be operating within a short fly-time from my present position somewhere over southern Illinois. Our brand-new Madison location clusters nicely in the upper Midwest with our Des Moines and Indianapolis venues, which opened in 2014 and 2015 respectively. And over the next year, we will have other Midwestern Flix locations to announce I’d wager, as we execute our Vision 2020 plan to open about 15 new units, located primarily in the central states, as well as select markets in the southwest and southeast. It is so personally and professionally gratifying to see such tangible and positive growth when it all started as an outline on a piece of paper so many years ago.
In a more metaphorical sense though, being seven miles up also brings into sharp perspective just what it is that we at Flix Brewhouse are trying to actually accomplish. In my unique role as both the real estate professional and brand guardian at Flix, my view of the landscape is rather different than most, and certainly different from those who hold senior real estate positions at other rapidly expanding companies. The essence of what we offer consumers is a top-flight cinematic experience, paired with delicious food and award-winning beer brewed on premises, all at a value-oriented price point. That’s a mouthful for sure. But what are we really trying to accomplish and why, you might ask?
Of course, as a going concern that is not a non-for-profit, our business objective is to build a highly profitable and tremendously respected brand. But importantly, it is our objective to bring something different into people’s lives and for the most part we are looking for markets that simply do not have the depth of entertainment and recreational opportunities that some other much larger markets might offer. Our stated mission is to be the gold-standard entertainment experience in each community we serve. Our purpose is to create and share happiness with our guests and team members alike. Boiled down further, quite simply, we truly see ourselves as purveyors of happiness. I catch myself saying this all the time. When guests first venture into a Flix Brewhouse and comprehend fully what we are (a cool movie theater that brews its own beer and serves awesome food) and the breadth of our offering (“Wait – I can order this awesome food and craft beer from my seat, watch a first run move, and bring my family, or a date, or even hold a corporate event here?”), the typical human response is naturally going to be a happy one. That’s the target that we shoot for every day.
But there is one other, foundational precept upon which our Flix Brewhouse brand has been built. It is not simply about the uniqueness of what we offer on our gold standard mission, it is also about how we go about doing it and how we feel about each and every valued Flix guest. In addition to being the only movie theater that brews and serves its own beer, certainly in North America (and possibly the known universe), Flix Brewhouse is also the only dine-in cinema that has built its operational modality around caring for each guest. It is a herculean task to quite literally embrace each ticket holding visitor to a Flix with a “hospitality first” mentality, but we put forth every effort to do so. Hospitality is obviously a cornerstone of the hotel industry and good hotels, even if not pricey, go above and beyond to ensure that their guests feel like they are being valued, cared for and that their (reasonable) needs and expectations have been exceeded. We have taken a page from the Hoteling 101 manual and have written it into our own play book. The concept is quite simple; bring the hospitality to each and every guest, every day, and they will be happy. If a guest leaves happy, they will likely return for more. I like to call it the “happiness quotient.”
While the happiness quotient is rather simple and easy to understand, it is actually quite difficult to achieve. Countless resources are devoted by our operations team to building efficient and constantly improving systems, which must be run by highly motivated and well-trained professionals. Effectuating the happiness quotient is likely the least talked about aspect of our brand offering, and if we are all doing our jobs in the collective, it is as it should be. Yet it is quite possibly the most important aspect of what we do and how we are as a company. If in the collective a guest is content with their food and beverage selections, as well as the presentation quality of their chosen movie (but of course we cannot control the quality of the film itself), they are likely to return. If happiness is absent from any one of the aforementioned offerings, the results will become far more variable and the trend line over time will not likely be headed in the right direction.
Although we want our guests to be super happy with their Flixperience, 100% of the time, naturally, with humans operating systems, even with low error rates, mistakes will be made. Ultimately, we will be measured as a brand based upon the perceptions that consumers hold as to how we treat our guests (known as guest recovery) when the inevitable does occur. We want our guests to look instinctively to Flix Brewhouse as their escape and to achieve this, they must feel cared for and leave happy. By extension, if our team members are not cared for and looked after, they will not be happy and will not be able to effectively carry out our happiness mission. It is a logical and interconnected circle of happiness that is best represented by the golden circle that is our corporate logo.
So we’ll be continuing to expand per our plan with the objective to bringing more and more folks into our circle. If we focus not just on the places, but more importantly on the people who live there, I am quite confident that we will have succeeded in our mission.