Expo 2012 GM and Owners' Keynote: ‘I Feel Like This Is the Industry’s Time’

CEO Jim Reid-Anderson shares the reasons for Six Flags’ success and how those can be applied to all attractions 

by Jeremy Schoolfield

When Jim Reid-Anderson was named president, CEO, and chairman of Six Flags Entertainment Corp. in mid-2010, the company was a mess. It was his job to help it recover from bankruptcy and point the regional theme park chain in a new direction.

Reid-Anderson was the keynote speaker at the annual GM and Owners’ Breakfast, where during his address he laid out the strategies he’s put in place at Six Flags, the impact those plans have made, and how he hopes they are a help to the entire attractions industry.

Reid-Anderson shared with the group of more than 500 his simple acronym for business success: SCORE.

S — Strategy

C — Communication

O — Organization

R — Reward & Recognition

E — Execution

“The single most important thing you can do is lay out a simple strategy that everyone can understand,” Reid-Anderson said. For Six Flags, that meant trimming off ancillary businesses and refocusing completely on being a group of excellent regional theme parks.

He said that strategy doesn’t go anywhere, however, unless there are open lines of communication throughout the entire company. As proof, Reid-Anderson provides his e-mail address and mobile number to everyone in the organization, including frontline employees; he wants everyone to feel a part of the team. Those employees are now rewarded for their efforts, including reinstatement of benefits and allowing all full-time employees to have stock options.

“Once you’ve worked out what you want to do, go 100 miles an hour to make sure you get there,” Reid-Anderson said.

And that’s exactly what he’s done for the past two years. Reid-Anderson committed to making “news in every park” each season, with a mixture of high-thrill, high-profile rides, attractions that appeal to children and families, and also thinking beyond to ideas like food and beverage and how the company markets itself. In addition, Six Flags has gone from conducting 15,000 guest surveys a year to 300,000, “and we are tracking our guest satisfaction in intense detail.”

The results of Reid-Anderson’s work speak for themselves. For the past two years, guest satisfaction scores are high, revenue is up, profit has almost doubled, and the company’s stock price has quadrupled.

Reid-Anderson is not just feeling positive about the future of Six Flags, but about the industry as a whole.

“I feel like this is the industry’s time,” he said. “We can continue to raise our overall profile. We need to talk positively not only about our company, but about our competitors, and share our pride. The implications are immense, because that leads to a position where we’re all better off. You have my personal commitment and the commitment of all my colleagues at Six Flags that we will do that.”