WilmingtonBiz Magazine

Editor's Note: Getting Schooled

By Vicky Janowski, posted Jun 28, 2023
Vicky Janowski
Want a lesson in organizational management or industrial psychology? Go find Sharon.

Sharon, the women’s bathroom attendant at Live Oak Bank Pavilion, is one concert at a time becoming a local legend for a simple reason: The women’s bathroom line is always shorter than the men’s line.
So that rarely happens, especially not in large-crowd situations like concerts. Surprised and bemused looks passed down the line outside. I wasn’t the only person who noticed. 

The why and how unfolds inside. In a projecting and constant stream, Sharon announces the open stalls. “I’ve got 2 over here; 1 over here.”

That’s it? That’s it. Somehow Sharon’s managed to solve a problem that plagues stadiums, concert venues and bars across the nation each weekend.

Zero time wasted guessing if a stall is occupied or not. Seconds shaved from trying to get the people chatting at the front to realize it’s their turn. This is lean methodology in action.

Here’s the wild thing. Given a roadmap to the process, even if it was their first time encountering the Sharon System, people quickly jumped on board. Wherever Sharon directed, people responded.

Here’s the even wilder thing. If Sharon was busy on one side of the room, people filled in the other side, announcing their own “1 open over here.” Seeing the success of the Sharon System firsthand, they adopted it for their own immediate environment.

One such time was when a younger teen concertgoer had trouble with her door. Sharon suspended her rounds and assured her she’d stay to watch the door. Efficiency only works alongside empathy. If you’re 100% on either end, you’ll either end up with disgruntled teammates or unfulfilled goals.

By now, I wouldn’t blame you for rolling your eyes. It’s just a public bathroom, not groundbreaking stuff.
But here’s another reason why businesses should pay attention to the Sharon System.

People who witnessed it and benefitted from it firsthand were talking. Not just one or two, but I kept hearing comments from impressed – and happy – patrons.

Still think I’m overselling it?

In early June, a thread started on a local Facebook group focused on face-value concert tickets. It was about Sharon and the Sharon System, which by the way no one calls it that, that’s how I intend to describe any efficiency plans going forward.

Posters both praised the method and bemoaned the fact that they didn’t have money for Sharon’s tip jar – Live Oak Bank Pavilion doesn’t take cash, plus the number of people who actually carry around bills has dropped off.

Nearly 60 comments later, people whose pricey beer buzzes and live music endorphins had long since subsided were trying to figure out how to properly tip Sharon via Venmo or another digital method. Someone asked around and confirmed her Cash App to share with the group. People took time out of their days to figure out how to return their appreciation.

If you don’t think there’s something to be learned here about customer service, you would be wrong. And I would suggest a refresher course from Professor Sharon.
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