Brad Collins is the President and COO of Uptown Jungle Fun Park. Based in Phoenix, AZ, Uptown Jungle currently has eight locations that are all corporately owned, with a ninth currently in development. Those around Brad say that he will do whatever it takes so the team can win and that he is an optimist, firmly believing that everything is “figure out-able.” Brad says that Uptown Jungle is a fun, crazy place for kids between 2 and 10 years old, with a high-energy atmosphere featuring trampolines, climbing walls, obstacle courses, and play structures. In this interview, Brad talks about innovating the guest experience, betting on your people, and having fun at work.
Innovating the guest experience
“We are constantly innovating the guest experience.”
Keeping the business internally owned and operated versus taking a franchise approach enables Uptown Jungle’s management to maintain full control over the business at each location and to continue innovating the guest experience.
Recent innovations to the guest experience include launching a membership program, a YouTube series, and a mascot named Uppy. These innovations come with significant intentionality by aligning the initiative with improvements to the guest experience, rather than doing it for the sake of doing it. For example, the Uppy mascot was in development for approximately one year before being introduced to Uptown Jungle’s audience so that it could be refined and fully ready for release.
Betting on your people
“You have to bet on your people sometimes, and you have to trust them.”
With the innovations made to the guest experience, it required trusting the people involved to utilize their skillsets to complete the project to a high standard of quality. When betting on your people, you have to put a plan together on how that person’s strengths can add to the business.
In many instances, there may not be a direct dollar return on the investment. When Uppy was introduced and the YouTube channel was launched, the measurement was not about dollars being added to the business, but rather the long-term enhancement of the brand and the impact that it makes on guests and fans, along with the experience it creates in the parks.
By putting a plan together, you can project that the end result of what that person can do will pay off financially and in other ways. Brad also states that if there is a person who is not doing their job, it’s often the leader’s fault, so it is important to look introspectively to see how you can support them to accomplish the goal.
Having fun at work
“I do not think there’s much of a difference between the guest experience and employee experience.”
Brad stresses that he is big about having fun, so employees should feel comfortable having fun and being themselves. If you are creating a good culture and work environment, employees should not be scared to discuss additional talents with their leader and suggest using them within the business. In one example that Brad shares, an employee used his talents to dress up as a pirate and lead a group of toddlers around the facility on a treasure hunt. This type of empowerment leads to improvements to both the guest experience and the employee experience.
When an employee comes to work, they should be able to leave their struggles at home, and while they’re working, they should be able to forget any troubles in their lives that they may be having. The concept of escapism goes hand in hand for both guests and employees, and from the employee standpoint, if they are having fun while they’re working then they can put other issues away and focus on having fun while working.
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:
- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
- Branding and design by Fabiana Fonseca
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