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 Post subject: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:09 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:03 pm
Posts: 725
Zip ties. Duct tape. Damaged signage. Signage with typos. No signage. Gaudy caution tape. Broken steps.

I think it's easy for organizations to get complacent in appearances - for many it's enough just to survive. I was surprised by how visible the seams were at a recent visit to a railroad museum. It's common to make a "running repair" on a display or exhibit, but reminded me how the little things make the big impressions.

Of course, reminders on how restricted places can be when it comes to people, money and hours each time we bring people in our Butler building with a 2-8-4 inside. Over the years we've added and improved signage, installed donation boxes, set up semi-permanent and moveable exhibits -- and right now a G-scale and Lionel train are operating inside a locomotive cab that was recently repainted and taking up space on the shop floor. We're in a building that was never designed for people - only trains, so the laundry list of improvements is endless - at least until we have a roundhouse.

What are your experiences with the little things that can hold a place back from being really great?

What are your remedies and creative solutions for elevating the little things that help improve the customer experience?

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Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc
http://www.fwrhs.org


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 1826
Quote:
What are your experiences with the little things that can hold a place back from being really great?


The collection of "projects" on the backlot detracts from the overall curb appeal of a railway museum. Especially if/when the weeds and brush grow up in/around the area. Decayed blue tarps are also a detraction.

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What are your remedies and creative solutions for elevating the little things that help improve the customer experience?


At National Capital Trolley Museum we have had success creating temporary/rotating exhibit panels using vinyl banner material.

Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 5:53 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:08 am
Posts: 93
Location: Johnstown, PA
An action item list and some folks who can be the quick reaction force to get them taken care of.
We have regular work days where we take on large projects that need a crew, materials purchased/staged and proper prior planning for execution.

But it is also good to have folks that work by themselves or want to come in on an off day and sometimes it is hard for them to see what needs done. But a list on a clipboard or bulletin board can help direct and focus them......(Oh, I have a couple of hours, I can't go out on the track crew all day, but I CAN install that missing handrail, paint the picnic table, change the broken light bulb....etc etc.)

We're not perfect and have a LONG WAY to go, but I keep thinking we are on a journey of continuous improvement, sometimes small increments, sometimes large increments!!


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:37 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3785
Location: Maine
Blistered paint on something that stands out front, rotted or fractured wood hanging down, piles of asbestos pyramiding on the ground. Scattered piles of debris, old 50 gal. drums, used caution tape flapping in the breeze, unused motor vehicles sitting on flat tires and no hope of restoring or using them.

This list can go on for reams.

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"It's only impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:07 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 69
The little things can make such a HUGE impact on a customer (aka potential ambassador, member, long time customer, etc.).

When you walk up to buy a ticket / pay admission, are you greeted with professional looking signage that lists and explains the pricing for admission? Or are you greeted with a confusing spattering of papers that have a bunch of "no refunds" "coupons must be presented at time of purchase" and poorly photo-copied flyers of upcoming events?

When you buy a ticket are you given a map, or information that lets you know what there is to see and do on that particular day? A common complaint I have when visiting railroads is not knowing where I can and can't go on a property.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:06 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:24 am
Posts: 488
Location: Canada
At one time I was an assistant curator of a large museum, and among other things we did surveys of what visitors thought was important. The most common answer we got was clean bathroooms. It wasn't the size of the collection, the rarity of the pieces, the period costumes or authenticity that determined repeat visits, it was clean bathrooms...let that sink in for a minute. No matter how many pieces you have, how nicely they are displayed, how much signage was in place, if the bathrooms weren't spotless, John Q.Public was not going to make a return visit.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:50 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:50 pm
Posts: 116
Location: www.easttroyrr.org
Couldn't agree more about the clean bathrooms. Most visiting families are accompanied by mom, and women are very off-put by messy and unclean lavatory facilities. At our museum we completely rebuilt them to modern and ADA-complaint standards. As a result, we received many compliments and positive postings on social media. Of course, they still have to be kept up.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:41 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:09 pm
Posts: 312
Seeing all of the above at a site, and returning, 10 years (to the month..), and seeing the exact same thing, in the exact same places. Same shredded tarps, overgrown weeds, faded, shredded caution tape, rusty piles of scrap, etc...


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:27 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 69
There needs to be a way that these problems can be addressed. When I was a member of an operating museum, my comments and suggestions were almost always met with hostility. Once I pointed out that a sign gave an outdated, and incorrect schedule that was confusing customers (I was selling tickets at the time) and I was scolded by an employee for being negative and not understanding that there were more important things to do than updating a sign.

Obviously, from then on I kept all my thoughts to myself.

Seat upholstery, cleaning coaches, cleaning stations, YES clean and attractive restrooms, attractive and non-confusing directional and informational signage, - none of this is as fun, or carries with it the same bragging rights of working on the locomotives but is every bit as important.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5284
Location: southeastern USA
Nova55 wrote:
Seeing all of the above at a site, and returning, 10 years (to the month..), and seeing the exact same thing, in the exact same places. Same shredded tarps, overgrown weeds, faded, shredded caution tape, rusty piles of scrap, etc...


Seeing not only that, but I'll raise you more rusty crap piled on top of the previous rusty crap, and various different priorities (none of which include restrooms of any stripe) being insufficiently funded to get completed instead of just doing one thing completely, preferably the one which would provide the greatest return.

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"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:55 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:23 am
Posts: 441
Location: Strasburg, PA
Guilty of all of the above ...

I think the most difficult thing is to get insiders/employees to own what visitors see. Excuses are easier to arrive at than a good clean up.

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Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 4:41 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:54 pm
Posts: 23
Another thing that should be brought up is keeping things fresh. I revisited a certain museum over the summer after not being there for five years. I found all of the exact same exhibits, in the exact same places, and with no significant progress on any of the projects that were projected to be done the year after I had been last there. This is something of a turn off for even the train people. Why should I spend $8 per person for admission every time to see the same thing over and over again? If railfans won't, I doubt Joe Schmoe is going to be any more inclined to do so.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:23 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1452
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
At Branford (Conn.) Electric Rwy. Ass'n. - Shore Line Trolley Museum, the insiders think that repeat visitors come back because they liked what they saw the 1st time, and won't continue to visit if exhibits are changed to something else.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:46 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:50 pm
Posts: 116
Location: www.easttroyrr.org
It's helpful to get an outside party with no ties to the organization to look at the operation and make suggestions for improvement. Another thing to do is stay current and find out what is going on in the field. For years, I would attend conferences and seminars on museum and tourist operations, paying particular attention to the visitor experience. It's always good to talk to other folks.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:06 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:00 am
Posts: 171
Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
My company does something called a Gemba walk. It is an informal observation, most times unannounced to observe the working area in its natural environment to see where improvement is needed. The key to making these really work is that you need fresh eyes, not the same people that see the same thing every day. Things can be hidden in plain sight if you see if every single day. You'd be surprised what three or four people who don't work closely in an area can spot.

https://www.isixsigma.com/methodology/l ... emba-walk/


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