Holiday Surprises

I like a good, shocking surprise every now and then (emphasis on “good”). I especially like giving someone a good, shocking, surprise. Something completely unexpected, that gets etched in their memory.

Over time we fall into a routine of busy-ness during the holidays, just trying to get through them and make sure nothing get screwed up. Hanging lights, decorating the tree, making sure there’s a present for everyone, cooking dinner, etc. And I realized it’s been a while since I’ve orchestrated a really good surprise.

Years ago when my daughter was younger, Christmas was approaching and I kept asking her what she wanted and her response was “A pony.” I told her “A pony”, was out of the question. We played this game back and forth for a few weeks. Then it occurred to me I could actually get her a pony, just to mess with her.

So Christmas came, and we were gathered in our living room. It was her turn to open a gift, and I brought over a large, full trash bag with a bow on it. She opened it up: It was a saddle. A real saddle, from a real horse. That surprised her, but I think her reaction was something like “Ha Ha, very funny. Where’s my real present?” Next time around she got a bag of oats. Slightly less funny, and now the drama was building. Next time around she got a card that said “Your present is in the backyard”. She reluctantly went to the backyard.

We lived in a nice suburb with hundreds of houses in it. Not farm land, not the country side. No farm animals were roaming around anywhere. Ever. And standing in our backyard was not a pony, but a full sized living horse, that I “borrowed” from a family friend.

I’ve never heard anyone scream that loud when she saw the horse in the back yard. Got her!

It took a lot of coordinating to make that happen, but it was a great surprise that will never be forgotten. No Old Spice shaving kit here.

On the other hand, nobody likes a bad surprise. I’ve had a few of those this year. The air condition quit, the refrigerator died, a couple rotted windows, etc.

So when it comes to working with our clients on the financial plans of their businesses, our philosophy is “No Surprises”. Because they’re usually bad. (How many times has a company counted inventory at year end and discovered that they had a huge write UP to inventory, instead of write down? Not very often.)

Eliminating financial surprises in business takes the “excitement” out of it, but it also tends to help everyone sleep a little better at night.

If your business or your clients are experiencing unexpected and unnecessary financial surprises, give us a call. You’ll be surprised at how good we are at eliminating them. We don’t horse around.

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Todd Rammler

Todd Rammler is the President and founder of Michigan CFO Associates.  Todd is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds an MS in Accounting from Walsh College (cum laude), and a BBA in Finance from Western Michigan University.

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