SF hidden agenda?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:23 AM
Dexter - your ideas all do make sense, but the thing is that some of the ideas take cooperation from the SF staff and not only the company itself.

The SF corporate board/members aren't going to run around at all the six flags parks to figure out which employees arent doing their jobs - its just not going to happen. That is up to the park managers. Hell, even the people in charge of developement of the individual parks probably dont go through the park often to know exactly what needs to be done.

I did a brief search, but I couldnt find out exactly how much the park starts off (in hourly wages) for their employees. I know that if SFA (my local SF park) is starting these employees off at/around minimum wage, then they wont be too excited about running around in the hot sun (not a heck of alot of shade there) to sweep up trash.

The first thing in any of these SF parks that needs done is to hire some good managers. With good managers, and a reason for these employees to value their jobs (the benefits are decent, how much are they being paid?), then quality will improve. The last time I visited SFA, I saw more employees doing nothing than something, and there weren't any managers around to tell them to get to work.

No doubt, these parks can turn themselves around. But it needs to start with better leadership, which the parks clearly dont have.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:25 AM
Oh man. Is this going to turn into another 'work is hard' thread?
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:32 AM
Dexter,

I am sure they did not run the parks into the ground on purpose. They had a business tactic as said before. "Built it and they will come". Well that tactic failed.

They made a bad business decision and underestimated the customers desires for a clean, well run and staffed, happy to go to place. That bit them hard. I know so many people that says S Flags, no way that place is so dirty. These are not coaster people. They are my co workers and friends.

Now SF's has realized their error, but it's too late. They are pretty much broke. They have no choice but to do 2 things, which I think we will see this winter.

1. File Bankruptcy

2. Sell more parks to relieve their debt.

Thats the only way they can make it at this point.

I wonder what Bill Gates thinks?

Maybe we should call him and let him know what is wrong with the parks. *** Edited 8/24/2004 3:33:32 PM UTC by Markieb***

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:36 AM
Nope. That's not always the case. Millions of people work for minimum wage without unions or benefits. Millions of people have to work more than one of these jobs to keep a roof over their heads.

A teenager living with his parents and working at a park has it made. The problem is that they usually don't realize it until a few years later.

That's not to knock the folks who actually support themselves by working at a park...but again, I think there are much worse ways to make money.

If people are nasty to you, you smile and be nice to them. Sometimes you have to treat them like little kids, "I'm sorry that you missed the sign out front mister [smile], how can I help you turn that frown upside down?"

Granted, I think that folks who work full time should be able to support themselves. It is called a living wage. I think that Six Flags probably could improve service by paying more, which means higher ticket

Let's see (roughly):

3000 employees x 12 hours x 150 days x $2 raise = $10.8 million or so (every year)

Does anyone know how much a park typically nets?

Unfortunately, Six Flags is a couple billion in the hole so we probably won't be seeing that in the near future.

Holy cow, I'm rambling! Sorry folks. ;)

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:48 AM
Someone has seen "The Hudsucker Proxy" one too many times. And, if anyone reading this has NOT seen the movie go rent it ASAP! It's one of the Coen Brothers' best.

mOOSH

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:20 PM
Gainesville HAS a living wage law...right now, full-time employees in G'ville are guaranteed by city ordinance a minimum of 8.00/hour, going up to 8.50 on Sept 1, I believe. Considering the cost of living here, I think that's QUITE reasonable for businesses AND employees. (VERY cheap to live here)...;)

Of course, I've been *stumping* for a $10/hour minimum EVERYWHERE for all full-time employees for about 5 years now, LOL...;)

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:29 PM
Selling off more parks will not relieve debt. They need those parks to make money and pay off the debt.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 1:01 PM
janfrederick - I suppose you could call me one of those teenagers who earn a low hourly salary, but still have it made. I work at my local Chick-fil-a and currently I'm making a whopping 6.50/hr.

The only reason I say that the parks need good managers is because I deal with management issues everyday I work. It doesnt take long before all the 'teenagers' that I work with to start slacking off. It also doesnt take much to get them back to work either. Another thing to note is that which manager is on our shift makes a huge difference in how much work gets done throughout the night. That is exactly why I say the SF park's just need better management. Sure, dealing with customers can be a pain, and I do my best when I'm at work to help all the customers out the best I can.

Although I have never worked at a park, I can imagine all the reasons (or should I say excuses?) why the employees wouldn't be working. But there is an ass for every seat, and if someone at the park isnt willing to do their job, there is bound to be someone else out there who will.

I realize it would take alot more than just better management, but it's also been poor management that has turned a good experience into a bad one. Most of the SF parks already have good rides, they just need to improve how the park is run. Nobody wants to come back to a park and wait through a terribly slow line in the hot sun while the employees sit instead of do their job. That, I know for a fact, certainly wont bring back customers.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 1:51 PM
Matt, at least you get Sundays off:) Has anyone considered that the managers/supervisors aren't being paid all that well either? I think everyone is assuming that if you pay the employees better, that it solves everything. I disagree. To me, in the end you'd have richer employees who still may move at the same speed and have the same attitude.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 1:55 PM
I'm curious as to why there's so much interest in Six Flags. I work in a somewhat related field to Six Flags and I find it fascinating how much interest everyone takes in this company. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being critical. I'm really interested as to why people take such an interest in Six Flags. Is it simply because they have so many parks that nearly everyone knows them? Is it because people have fond memories of the past? What is it about this particular company that seems to generate so much discussion and debate?
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:21 PM
postscript - I think the reason many of us take such an interest in the chain is that we see such potential for greatness, all seemingly squandered on bad customer service and a horrible park-going experience [generally speaking, of course].

Six Flags seems to have the motto "build it and they will come, regardless of how we treat them" instead of "treat them well and they will come, new ride or not, and continue to come."

At least that's how I see it.

mOOSH

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:22 PM
I cant speak for the entire chain, but working at Six Flags St. Louis I can say that a lot of the assumtions people make about management and the employees at Six Flags are wrong. We have plenty of parties and incentives throughout the whole year. We too have capacity competitions and prizes to go with them. Yes, of course every park is going to have their handful of lazy and poor employees, but if they do anything to compromise safety they have a corrective action put on them. We make sure that people are being trained with safety first and a good attitude.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:23 PM
On the flip side, some young adults still live at home because they can't get more than $6.50/hr. I know, I was one of them for quite a while.

As for the interest in Six Flags...does the related field you speak of involve parks and rollercoasters? If so, does the company/field have Six Flags-scale problems?

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:28 PM

Jeff said:
Selling off more parks will not relieve debt.

Sure it will. The minute they sell, their debt is reduced. It is typical for any business to dump low performers when restructuring. Why? Because it relieves debt immediately! *** Edited 8/24/2004 6:40:27 PM UTC by Markieb***

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:35 PM

postscript said:
I'm curious as to why there's so much interest in Six Flags.
For me it is because there is such potential to have GREAT theme parks all over the country. They have a lot of nice properties, that at one time were great. I think people want those properties restored back to their glory days. Six Flags is to parks, what K Mart is to retail.

It seems they were so close at the beginning of the summer, The parks were cleaned, the staff was increased, and a new attitude had been visible at a lot of the parks. Then as quick as it changed, it reverted back. *** *** *** Edited 8/24/2004 6:43:38 PM UTC by Markieb***

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:41 PM
Would I want SFA reverted back to Adventure World? Hell No. Unlike some of the other classic paks which were converted, SFA doesn't have that history.

I'm going to side with Jeff and say that Six Flags needs the parks they have to generate income to pay off their debts.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:47 PM
What they need to keep is the key performing parks.

They don't need the small producers that would do better at quickly relieving debt. At one time I would agree, but I think they are too far gone now to pull out with the current number of parks.

I think they agree. All of the euro parks were sold, plus Cleveland... Correct.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 3:14 PM
Let's just say for instance that I was interested in buying the chain (or at least controlling interest of outstanding stock). Even though I may currently hold a high position in the chain, it would be much easier (and cheaper) for me to purchase said stock if the price were LOW...even *artificially* low. So, there ARE times when someone might want the stock price of the company they work for to go down...;)

Just an FYI, that sort of behavior IS illegal...but white collar criminals who do this sort of thing are RARELY, if ever, prosecuted...

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 3:27 PM
The reason there is so much interest in Six Flags/Premier is that they bought up a ton of our parks...parks we all grew up with and enjoyed.

Mine was Geauga Lake. Premier came in and made some sweeping changes but from the first moment I wondered how it was going to be successful. Building 3 coasters in a year (or was it 4?), buying Sea World, etc. I know a lot about the business although I don't consider myself an expert. But I never thought for a minute that things were going to be all rosy. Someone did.

As much as people boo-hoo about it, that park didn't have a prayer as a combined one gate attraction. They tried to become Disneyworld when they weren't even Busch Gardens. As said earlier, they banked on the "Six Flags" name and that was a major blunder.

The people who should really be criticized are the bankes/investors who kept throwing money into a hole. It comes down to greed. The bankers thought they'd make a quick buck. Premier thought they could exploit the "Six Flags" brand. At the first sign of problems each season Premier started cutting budgets so the operators didn't have a prayer (staffing hours reduced, maintenance reduced, etc).

This will go down as a case study in what NOT to do.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 3:37 PM
Dude... they still have over $2 billion in debt. Who would want to or can afford to pay any real value to buy more parks? Like I said, Cedar Fair got Geauga Lake for only a little more than what Six Flags bought Sea World alone just a few years earlier. That's not even including the $40 million+ in new rides Six Flags put into the park during that time!

My point is that if they're going to sell more parks, they'll sell them at a loss. You can't pay off debt that way. That's like me selling my house for less than I paid for it a year after I bought it and still being stuck with the debt.

They need those parks to generate meaningful revenue. Geauga Lake, and apparently the European parks, did not generate that revenue, but they paid dearly in selling them.

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