What Build-A-Bear Can Teach Us About Service

A pinnacle of the American mall since 1997, Build-A-Bear cracked the code. By charging 10x the price and requiring 100x the effort (disclaimer: those are my own lazy estimates), a person could become the proud owner of a teddy bear they personally assembled and dressed. Why would anyone do this? Ask any parent with first-hand experience and they’ll tell you, “the bear isn’t the value, it’s the bear building process.” Look around and we’ll see that Build-A-Bear’s simple concept shows up everywhere in our professional lives. 


Josh Patrick of Stage 2 Planning Partners designs deeply involved retirement and succession plans for successful business owners.  He is quick to acknowledge that people don’t come to him to find the one true solution or just to get some fancy legal document, but for the process of thinking through their entire situation with him. Patrick said, “the plan isn’t the value, it’s the planning process.” There’s that concept again.


Whether it’s a financial plan, an investment, or a simple teddy bear, there’s perceived value in being part of the process. Yes, there are things we all “just want to be done for us,” but somehow walking into CVS and picking up a stuffed animal is different from going into Build-A-Bear and making our own. That’s the power of perception. Professionally, our process is integral to our client experience. Lifting the hood and bringing people through it, on their journey – not to just show off the factory floor, but to let them touch and engage with it, can be a massively value creating experience. 


Look for the formula in high-quality service experiences everywhere. The (blank) isn’t the value, it’s the process to make the (blank). Engagement, experience, and perceptions matter – there’s much to be gained when we embrace them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *