The $0 Small-Business Hack for Increased Sales

coffee-house-large  I know everything you ever wanted to know about scheduling unreliable staff. I also know more than most about the drama of relationships between 20-somethings in small-town California.


Because those topics are discussed at length behind the counter of my local coffee shop. The stream of chatter among the baristas is interrupted just long enough to take my order and my money, and then it’s back to in-the-know gossip while my espresso brews.

The scene is harmless, really, and it happens so often in most coffee shops, tasting rooms and farmer’s markets, that I hardly notice it.

But it’s a real shame. Because while I stand there unengaged, I could instead be connecting with the staff, if they invited it, and add a cookie to my order. I could be supplying my email address for their list in response to a smiling request, and I could be increasing my emotional connection to the establishment.

The Walt Disney Institute, the brains behind Disney’s industry-leading guest experience, trains staff to consider the difference between “On Stage” and “Off Stage.” The concept is obvious: When guests can see you, you’re on stage. You control their experience, and it better be good.

Disney then designates an off-stage area. That’s were the customers can’t see or hear the staff, and that’s where the discussions of staffing, weekends and baseball games should take place.

When defined and executed properly, the result of on/off stage is increased customer engagement, increased sales, and increased word-of-mouth referrals, all at a cost of $0. Does that sound too good to be true? I bet the response from highly engaged customers will prove otherwise.


ps.  Thank you guys for following along, sending your comments and signing up by email.  We love the topic of small business in agriculture, and we love having this conversation with you about it.

Personal Growth

The Myth of “Not Enough Time.”


I can’t tell you how often I leave the office wishing I had more time to finish an exciting project. And then I leave for work the next morning thinking “if only I had more time to play with the kids or pick there persimmons in the yard.”

Time is a tricky resource, because we can’t create more. We can make more money, buy more land, and irrigate more grass, but we can’t make more time.

Or can we?

Sort of.

The trick, according to the late Zig Ziglar, is to know that time usually isn’t the limiting resource.

Consider Zig’s famous talk about “the last day before vacation.”  Mr. Ziglar observed that all humans accomplish on average twice as much on their “last day before vacation” compared to normal a day.  This debunks the myth of “I don’t have enough time,” because obviously that last day doesn’t have twice as many hours in it.

What then, is the real limiting factor?

In most cases, the limiting factor is focused energy, not time.  When we march into the office (or pasture, or workshop) on a mission, like it’s our last day before vacation, it’s remarkable what we can accomplish. That’s when we focus on the important tasks, the ones that make a real impact, instead of the mindless easy ones that don’t.

The great news then is that we have taken a resource that cannot be increased (time), and turned it into one that can, energy.  We can create more energy, of course, by sleeping well, eating right, getting more exercise and focusing on things that we are excited about. In fact, it’s about time we did.