Disney at night.

4 ways to Disney-fy your practice

If you attended Scaling New Heights last month, you heard Ron Baker talk about the things he learned from Disney Institute. He sparked all our imaginations with the question, “What would happen if Disney began running accounting firms?”

When I lived in Tampa, I was about one hour from my driveway to the Disney World main gate. I’ve been to Disney more than 100 times (I have a spreadsheet). So yes, I get it. There are things about Disney that make it really special. It’s an outstanding experience, especially compared to other parks.

How do you apply the Disney amazing experience to your own practice? Here are four ways to get a good start.

#1: Keep it clean

Have you been there? Then you’ve noticed that Disney World is the cleanest place in the universe. There are multiple versions of this story, but I like the one that says Walt watched how far people would walk to a garbage can before they dropped their trash on the ground. The answer is 30 feet. He and the Imagineers decided that to keep the trash off the ground, there should be a garbage can every 30 feet—and that’s where you will find them now, 30 feet apart. In addition, every cast member at Disney is tasked with picking up any litter they find on the ground. From shop clerks to ride attendants and vice presidents, if they see trash, it’s their job to pick it up.

Your clients expect you to keep their books clean. Yes, it’s easy to let those un-categories slide and think about them later. But give some thought to picking up the litter when you see it. You never know when someone is going to take their financials to a bank or a loan officer without giving you prior notice. How embarrassing for you and your client if they are not in the best shape. Clean them up and keep them that way.

#2: You’re special!

If you go to Disney on your birthday, you can get a big round pin that says it’s your birthday. Cast members will go out of their way to wish you a happy birthday, sing to you, and even give you a free brownie at the lunch counter. But even if it’s not your birthday, they work constantly to make you feel special, like they were just waiting for you to get there.

How many clients do you have? How special does each one feel? Every client on your list should think they are your favorite. You don’t have to sing Happy Birthday to them, but you can definitely find little ways to make each one know that you care about more than their numbers and the money they pay you. What is important to each one? You should know that, and address it.

#3: Mickey wants to see you

Mickey Mouse is the star of the Magic Kingdom. There are numerous places all over Disney World where you can see him, from the stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle to breakfast at the Crystal Palace and walking down Main Street. Mickey is there for you. He will wave, shake your hand, and take a selfie. He’s glad you’re there!

Do your clients get to see you? It’s really easy to say, “I don’t have time. Just send an email or Slack.” But what I’ve learned is that meeting in person gives you a much richer relationship with your client (or via Zoom; that works too). Invite them to your office. Meet them for coffee. Metaphorically speaking, sign their autograph books. You are the Mickey in your own version of Disney, “Bookkeeping World.” Your clients want to see you. Let them!

#4: Enable E tickets

Maybe you’re too young to remember the ticket books. But ask your parents. In the early days of Disney, each person had to purchase a ticket book for the attractions. The tickets were labeled A, B, C, D, and E. The best attractions required an E ticket: Pirates of the Caribbean. the Haunted Mansion. Jungle Cruise—you get it. You needed E tickets for these. Of course, there were more E attractions than there were tickets in the book. And you always went home with some left over.

These days, it’s one price for everything. You pay your admission and all the rides are included. You can cruise down the Amazon on the Jungle Cruise 20 times if you want to. Jack Sparrow is hiding from you as many times as you go into the Pirate’s marketplace. Master Gracie is still buried in the cemetery at The Haunted Mansion. There is no limit to what you can do during your admission.

Don’t limit your clients with bullet points on the engagement letter. No more E Tickets. With concierge service or a subscription model, you charge one lovely price for absolutely anything you are capable of doing for your client. And what does that give them? Clean books? Personal attention? Yes. But also peace of mind. With complete service, they know that even if they run out of E tickets, you’ll still let them on their favorite attraction.

My very favorite Walt Disney quote has helped me build my practice to the success I hoped for. “If you dream it, you can do it.”

It’s true. Just try it. With or without Tinkerbell’s pixie dust.

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