What I learned at Disney World

by Firefalls on May 31, 2011

I recently went to Disney World in Orlando Florida. This is probably my 6th or 7th time visiting the various theme parks. The thing that always gets me when I go there is that it’s pretty much unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been on the planet. (Not that I’ve been too many places, but I’ve been to enough.)

Granted the attractions are fun and exciting. The characters are great. The animations and shows are fantastic. But the one thing I always seem to takeaway from my Disney World visit is their relentless pursuit to making the patrons happy. If it’s your niece’s birthday they give her a pin with her name on it that she can wear. Then pretty much everyone who works in the park who sees that birthday pin will say “Happy Birthday Amanda!!!”

That really makes a six year-old feel special and it doesn’t really take a lot of effort on Disney’s part, probably a dollar for a pin and tiny bit of effort on its employees part really make a tremendous difference to a child and his/her parents.

This is just one small thing they do at Disney to increase customer satisfaction. Everywhere I go in those parks I’m made to feel as if I’m a special customer, people are usually exceptionally friendly, things are very organized and I think this Disney “Attitude” is contagious. People go out of their way to find a garbage pail, people are more likely to be courteous to fellow patrons and people even tend to keep their cool waiting on long lines in the hot sun.

But more important than having swarms of cool-headed, happy customers wandering the parks in Disney World, the main thing Disney gets from providing an amazing experience for its customers is brand loyalty. How many of those people do you thing will come back again for another trip with their kids? How many of those kids will take their kids to Disney in twenty something years?

My guess is a lot. Probably most people will return, with kids, grandkids or just a couple adults who need a break and want to enjoy their vacation, acting like a kid.

So what’s my point?

Well, this is one of many lessons we can learn from the great Walt Disney. If you go that extra mile for your customers, create an amazing experience for them, chances are they will return.

How can I create an amazing “Disney-like” experience? You ask.

When I say go the extra mile, sure you can answer your customer’s questions timely, refund a return promptly, offer great Tips and Advice in an amazing newsletter (like mine which you should sign up for right now if you already haven’t, see top of page).

But I think you should be planning the Disney-like experience from the get go. Before even launching your business walk through the mechanics of it. Does every process that a customer experiences run as smooth as it could? Could you make it better? Easier? More enjoyable for the customer?

Can you set-up a way to capture your customer’s birthday and then acknowledge them (with a coupon or something?) This not only makes them feel like you thought about their birthday but hopefully you can get a sale. (A win/win situation.)

I just wanted to get this idea down quickly, I’m sure there are a million ways that your business can learn a valuable lesson from Disney. Please let me know in the comments ways that you make your customers feel appreciated or any “Disney-like” things you do in your business.


3 Tips for Keeping Your Receipts Organized

by Firefalls on May 25, 2011

Don’t you absolutely hate having to keep records and receipts every minute of the day?

It can become a really tedious chore having to remember how much things cost, what you spend money on (especially when it comes to cash.)

How about sales? Do you have a system in place to accurately record all of your sales, how about your returns?

If this is making you a bit anxious have no fear because I’m going to show you three simple methods that you can use right now to organize your business record keeping (plus it also works in your personal life as well.)

Method # 1 – The Envelope System

This is a simple but massively effective system that I use to capture any and all receipts. It can be used either for your business or for never missing a red cent that a company owes you on an expense report (If you are still gainfully employed by someone else.)

The gist of this system is keep an envelope with you at all times (can be in your jacket, your briefcase or laptop case, your car or your office) what ever works for you. I use plain white (non-windowed) envelopes. Each time I get a receipt, I flip it around and write a brief description on the back of the receipt (So I don’t forget in a week what exactly it was for.) I write who I was with if a T&E type of receipt. (like a meal)

Just quickly write whatever info will help jog your memory.

Next I place the receipt in the envelope. I use a separate envelopes for each month. So on the outside of the envelope I put the month (March 2011 for example). Then I continue putting all receipts in the envelope . I add them up when I prepare my month-end reports.
For things I don’t get a receipt for (like tipping the cab driver) I write on the front of the envelope the date, amount and a (really) brief description. (like: 3/11/11 $5 Tip – Hotel Bellhop or $3 donut & coffee – Roach Coach)

The envelope system works equally well for cash receipts (if you sell merchandise for cash.) I’d use a separate envelopes, one for receipts and one for expenses.

This way we account for everything using one simple system.

Method # 2 – The Notebook System

Anyone who has been reading my tips for any length of time knows I’m a big fan of little 3 x 5″ spiral notebooks. You can buy them from Staples like 5 for $2. So if you used one notebook a month it would cost under $5 a year. (I love simple cost-effective things)

The beauty of these notebooks is that you can quite literally carry them with you at all times. You can use these to write non-receipt items down. Plus you can elaborate on the description as much as you want. You can also take notes or jot down ideas, which really comes in handy.

I usually write my notes from the back forward and write financial information from the front back, so it’s really easy to find.

I know you’re probably thinking, “Can’t I use my smart phone for this?”
The answer is yes you can, but I find filing the notebooks with my monthly documents convenient. Plus I still think it’s easier writing a note with a pen than typing on a phone. (but you should do what works best for you)

Method # 3

Lastly I wanted to mention a choice I’ve made a while ago. I use one credit card for all business activity. I use a card that puts 1% of the purchase amount into an interest bearing savings account that I could withdraw any time I need to, but you could get any rewards you want. (you have to spend the money anyway so you might as well take advantage.)

Should you use a personal or a business card? I don’t think it matters as much, I use a personal card because a like the rewards and it’s covered by the CARD act. (This offers certain protection and disclosures to personal cards that aren’t required for business cards)

Using a separate card for business activity helps in a couple of ways.

First, you’re not comingling your spending. It becomes very problematic (especially with Uncle Sam) if you comingle your business and personal spending and funds.

Second, most credit cards offer a pretty comprehensive year end statement, broken down by categories. This is a very useful report to have when preparing your year-end financial books. (this report get less and less useful the more you comingle personal and business expenses on the card.)

So there are 3 methods I use keep my receipts organized. Do you have to pick just one and only use that one method? Of course not, I use a combination of all 3 to manage my business. I use a lot of the same methods to manage my personal life.

Use whatever combination works well for you.

Let me know the ways you keep organized in the comments below.


Quality Or Quantity – Which Should You Go For?

by Firefalls May 12, 2011

The quality vs. quantity debate really boils down to what you’re actually talking about. It’s very situational. If you have seven children to feed and ten dollars in your pocket, the dollar menu at Taco Bell starts to look pretty good, but would you take the girl that you’ve been courting for a year to […]

Read the full article →

How to Find Capital to Start Your Home Business

by Firefalls May 6, 2011

People often ask, “Where can I find money for my start-up business?” You have a great business idea, you want to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur, be you’re own boss. You have grand dreams of building an empire. Living the dream. Driving the Ferrari to the beach from your home-office beach mansion… Hey, […]

Read the full article →

My New Secret Blogging Weapon

by Firefalls May 4, 2011

On Sunday mornings, I like to sit at my kitchen table make myself a big ‘ol mug of coffee and read the newspaper. One of the things that make Sunday’s newspaper different from the rest of the week is the addition of all the circulars from the stores. I do clip some coupons and look […]

Read the full article →

Does your Niche Suck? The Top Five Places To Research Your New Niche Market

by Firefalls April 29, 2011

When performing the research on whether or not your latest idea for a niche market would be a viable business to enter into, we have to consider a few factors. You don’t want to jump right in and spend a lot of your time and energy without doing any research, because not all niches are […]

Read the full article →

What Money Problems?

by Firefalls April 28, 2011

Do you have or know anyone who has run into a financial slump? Where debt is building and savings is dwindling? Most people need a plan to help them get through many of today’s money problems. So when I’m asked about what somebody should do to help rid themselves from debt, or the best way […]

Read the full article →

Where Do You Find The Time To Write?

by Firefalls April 26, 2011

A friend of mine recently asked me, “where do you find the time to write?”. The more I thought about this question I realized it’s all a matter of organization. So I thought it would be helpful to share with you my mindset and some of my processes I use to get things done, but […]

Read the full article →

How to Describe Complex Topics in Common Language

by Firefalls April 22, 2011

When you’re tasked with teaching people how to do something or having to explain something that has multiple steps or parts, it’s your job to make sure you don’t leave your readers with that “deer in the headlight” look on their face. You may think the subject is really easy to grasp, but think back […]

Read the full article →

How Much Does That Coffee Really Cost

by Firefalls April 22, 2011

I wrote an article for my personal finance site that basically shows that by skipping a cup of coffee each day you could wind up a millionaire at retirement. This obviously depends on a few factors (rate of return and time) but I hope you’ll find the idea interesting. I show that by saving $5 a […]

Read the full article →