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Alienate the Right People

The Alamo Drafthouse is a small group of movie theaters in Texas. While most theaters are complaining about the growing decrease in attendance, founder and CEO Tim League has taken a different approach.

He provides an experience people happily pay money for.

They have bad movie nights, girls night out nights, guys night out nights. They serve great food. And perhaps most important of all, they have a strict “no talking, no texting” policy at the Alamo Drafthouse.

When Policies Fail

When their existing policy failed to curb in-movie talking just once, Tim openly blogged about it and created an even more thorough set of guidelines for his staff to ensure it won’t happen again.

Last Friday during a screening of RUBBER at the Ritz, there was a group of patrons in the theater who were talking and being disruptive during the film. Three conscientious patrons raised flags to complain about the talkers, yet the talkers were not thrown out and the problem persisted throughout the film. First off, let me say to anyone whose moviegoing experience was disrupted, I am truly sorry. I cannot abide people talking during the movie and personally developed our system that is supposed to stop this from happening. Last Friday, this system failed. I am now taking this time to reflect on our policy and make some improvements to see if we can do a better job.

How often do you see CEOs talking to their customers like that? Almost never. This is blogging done right.

She texted. We kicked her out.

To prove his commitment to the new policy, Tim recently posted this voicemail from an angry customer who was kicked out for texting during a movie. (Warning: Some NSFW language. Here’s a censored version.)

There are a lot of business lessons you could learn from the Alamo Drafthouse, but I think Andy Sernovitz sums it up best…

Your job isn’t to make everyone happy. It’s to make your best customer fall in love.

What do you think?

Image by Craige Moore