Last month, I packed the family up and we jetted to Orlando for a fully deductible summer family vacation. Now, of course, it was technically a fully deductible continuing education conference as far as IRS rules go. It was the perfect setting for my 8 and 11-year-old kids. The plan was for my wife and mother-in-law to go to all the Disney parks while I was in class learning about new accounting rules and trends in the accounting industry. In fact, that is exactly what happened, and luckily I was able to stay over a couple of extra days to be with them at the Disneyworld parks.
I found the classes very interesting as a significant portion of the content covered the powerful impact of technology changes that are having a dramatic impact to our firm and our clients by increasing efficiencies that increase the bottom line. The opportunity for our clients is to reduce their back office overhead cost by outsourcing these processes. I left the conference motivated by the fact that our firm can truly help our clients more than ever before and that we are becoming the accounting and business services firm of the future.
Before heading home, it was off to Disneyworld to take on all the fun Orlando has to offer. We arrived at the park as it opened for the day. It was already hot and humid in the morning. So, I was not sure how much fun it would be. We hit the ground running and made the most of our day despite the heat. By halfway through the day I began to become increasingly impressed with the park operations. Everything we experienced was very intentional, meaning there was going to be NO accidental fun. Every detail of our experience we extremely well thought-out from the beginning until the end of every ride, theme, and experience. I realized Disney was one of the most efficient engines I had ever seen in a business operation. I may have learned some great things at the conference, but it was not until I took in Disney that I got the most eye-opening lesson on intentional profitable operations.
Its culture is built around the term ‘plus it’ which was used by Walt Disney to continuously further improve projects whether it be a film, TV show, or park. I kept thinking to myself, what if our firm and our clients could actually create such an efficient economic engine and how awesome it would be to witness the results on a daily basis. As business owners, we strive to reap the rewards of our hard work. For example, we tend to buy the most highly engineered vehicles on the market. But when it comes to our business operations we cut corners on engineering of our operations and then use prayer and hope that our employees will get-‘er-done using some sort of R&I (resourcefulness and intuition) to provide our services to our customers.
From the time you step off the plane in Orlando, you enter the kingdom so to speak. You will notice how clean the airport and shuttles are at the influence of Disney. You can begin your experience with the Disney Magic Band to express check-in, and unlock your hotel room as you arrive without having to wait in line for check-in. The Magic Band allows you to charge and purchase food and items and connects you to the Disney photo pass and fast pass. You fast pass to the front of the line and when your attraction ride is over you just wave it on over a reader for your picture that was taken during the attraction ride and it can be purchased anytime later so you don’t have to spend time cutting into your family fun.
I can only image the planning and strategy that goes into the delivery of an attraction on a Disney property. Each attraction is developed to have a purpose and their customers are entertained from the end of the line all the way through the end of the ride. The characters are controlled through an extensive network of digital animation that provides a consistent repeatable experience for its customers. As you walk from one attraction to another it is apparent that the park is very clean and there is plenty of space to walk around. It utilizes a system of utilidors that allows personnel, retail goods, and supplies to be moved through underground tunnels. There is another underground system that uses compressed air to collect and transfer trash off the property.
Being an accountant, I thought I would put their financial statements to the test. I downloaded their last Annual Report filed with the SEC to get to their bottom line. Is all this worth it I was wondering. Well, Disney’s year over year growth ‘and’ net profit was in the billions. Their profit was 15% of gross revenue. Now that is a well-oiled machine!
So my conference was a success in a way that I did not expect. I arrived to learn from all the experts in our industry. There were numerous vendors, subject matter experts, and consultants that wanted to share their knowledge with all the CPA’s and accountants from across the country. They covered areas of technical rule changes, operations, marketing, and management. Outside of the technical rule changes, there existed a collaborative effort through over 100 courses with varying topics to cover and talk about concepts that can have a positive impact on efficiencies for our clients. Better said there was a tremendous amount of talking. But in the end I witnessed actual efficiencies live in action at Disneyworld that turned into the best lesson I got at the conference.
As a business owner can you imagine having a highly engineered engine running your business? What if you had a process that ran itself and provided you information in real time to make course corrections? You take your stress home from work. Work can be more stressful if it relies heavily on employees who do it the best way they can which is their way and not THE way. THE way is your strategic way that allows you to work less and make much more money. Then you can enjoy the financial freedom on your terms and be a happier leader at home and at work.
Now not everyone can throw off a billion dollar bottom line but why not try to get the most out of your business. Take the first step and create a Disney culture of ‘plus-it’ to move the needle on your business. The first step is to begin automating your processes. You also need to develop processes to make your business smarter and more efficient to reduce costs and increase productivity. Here are some examples:
- Eliminate cumbersome and time consuming manual tasks such as: data entry, envelope stuffing, filing and check runs
- Pay bills online at a fraction of the time it takes to process and sign checks
- Automate customer collections
- Stop opening mail by having the vendor emails sent directly into the accounting software
- Reduce human error and increase accuracy with automated software
- Improve internal controls to reduce the risk of fraud
- Improve timely reporting of financial results
- Improve collaboration of your limited resources
Let ‘your’ team use their business experience which is not as much dependent on technology to help your employees and customers which will ultimately help you grow the company and have the peace of mind that your company is operating in a smarter and more profitable way. Go and Grow can help you put the processes in place and become your back office at a much lower cost with better controls.