Creating Documents for Sales

This post is from when I was working at my previous job doing Sales and Marketing. This was written in the past, a few months ago.

This will be a run through of the different documents I needed to create.

I didn’t realize how many things we did not have. The only thing we had was a contract for events, and it is very basic. Since we already have that I will leave that to the last thing I do, updating it. I need to focus on the things we don’t have first and then improve upon what we already have. While I am in the process of creating these documents and forms I am also selling to guests who inquire on their own, so this is a balancing act for me.

The very first thing that I need is pricing and packages. I called around to different companies that are similar to mine and pretended to be a guest booking a birthday party. I wanted to see what packages they are offering and the cost. What I found most from this process was that I didn’t get relies back. That surprised me. Out of all of the companies I contacted, through their website, I only got one reply. I was literally dumbfounded. How could companies be leaving money on the table like that? Did they not care, or did they not have enough staff?

That confirmed some advise I was given during the conversations I had with people in the sales and marketing industry, make sure to reply as soon as possible. Well if I respond at all I have a good chance of getting the business. LOL. Ok seems simple enough.

I now needed to build my birthday packages. What do I need to include in them and what will I offer as an incentive to get them to do the package rather than going to someone else. Parents have a lot of choices for birthday parties, so figuring out a way to make them want to come to us over others is priority. After doing some research I found that a lot of companies don’t really promote that they do birthday parties. That is the easiest way to draw people to you. I need to create banners for our website and our social media outlets.

So promotion was my first step and my second was ease of access for our guests and for the process. I talked to a few moms I know and asked what process they go through to book a birthday party, as I don’t have kids yet I know I was not the expert on that subject so I went to the experts I knew. I found that the whole process for them is a pain. If I can come up with a way to make things seem less for the parents then they would come back to us fo the next one and tell their friends. Word of mouth is really big for us so anything I can do to promote that will only help us.

I need to create a document that has all the pricing options and add on available in one place. This would be like a flyer with everything the parent needs to know about how much it will cost for an event with us. The next thing I need to create is a sheet with timelines. There are so many working parts with birthdays that a timeline will help the partners know when things are coming up or when deadlines are. And finally a FAQ sheet so that any random questions we are asked or could be asked are all in one place. Not only will this document help the guests, it will also help me by not having to answer the same questions all day long from different guests. All of this would be sent as the very first contact to the guest.

This department needs structure. That is where checklists and timelines come in. We also need to figure out organization of documentation. We have 7 different locations that guests can book their private event at. We also need to figure out a form of communication to get the information to the different location managers. And finally closing out a group.

  • Checklists
    • Communication dates with the guest
    • Communication dates with the managers
    • Event details
    • Payment dates and timelines
  • Organization
    • Each location will get a color coded folder to denote what location
    • Coding to know if it is a birthday, meeting, or private event.
    • Uploading details in Basecamp so the managers know what is going on where
  • Communication
    • Follow up with the guest at first email/call
    • Follow up after one day with the guest
    • Continue getting final details from the guest
    • Once group is confirmed email the manager and put on Basecamp
    • One week before the event follow up with the manager
    • Day after the event follow up the guest to see how things went

There is still a lot more that needs to be done to build the department, but this is a good start.

Been Away For A While Due To Being Overworked And Stressed

It has been a few months. This was not my intention to take some time off and not post, but things got crazy. I still have the posts I was working on while I was trying to build a sales and marketing department. Needless to say that did not go as planned and there are many reasons for that and I will create more posts to go into detail about that. I also will clean up and add to the posts I was working on and post them so you can still see the process. I did learn a lot from that experienced and others can learn from my accomplishments and my failures. In the end it did not work out for me, so I moved on from that company. There is drama about that, but it will come in later posts.

So I did leave my last job for one that I thought would be better. Turns out it is better in some ways and in other ways not so much. Sometimes when I get frustrated at my current job I think I miss my old job, and then I have to remind myself the reasons I wanted to leave. The final and main reason that I left my old job was because I felt unappreciated.

A lot upper management tends to think the reason that people leave their job is because they are unhappy about something small or that they just don’t like their work, but most of the time the main reason employees leave is because they do not feel valued.

For me it was years of things building up, but what tipped the scale for me was the fact that I was being paid 16% above minimum wage for salary. A couple years later I was back at minimum wage for salary. As minimum wage in general went up my salary did not. That meant that I was taking a price cut each year, but I was not working less or taking on less, in fact I was taking on more. I always did what was asked of me, even if I was not trained for it, but that didn’t seem to matter. Then when I brought up the fact that I had not had a raise in years, yet others had, I was told that I needed to take on something new and then once I succeed we will talk about a raise. That was frustrating, everything I had already done was not good enough. After that I found it really hard to care about what I was doing. I tried to remain positive and see the good things in my job, but it got hard. Then I was given a new job within the company that I had never done before, not the first time with this company, but I was up for the challenge. Well guess what it turns out that I was set up to fail. The President of the company came to that same conclusion after I was already gone. The company I worked for was not a bad company, but I can say that it is not managed like any other company I have ever worked for. It is a company, but it is run as a mom and pop company still. They are good people though.

Don’t get me wrong it is not all bad at my new job. I really enjoy the people I work with and I enjoy my work. What I don’t enjoy is working such long hours.

I work 10 – 12 hour days and commute to work one hour each way. So I am gone for about 12 – 14 hours a day. When I get home all I want to do is eat dinner and relax. At first I was working so much, coming home eating dinner, and then falling asleep. Then I finally got to a point where I would be able to stay up later and have me time. Then I did the math and realized that I will basically work 10 or more weeks more a year than I was working before, with all the overtime. That started to get to me and I was depressed for a while. I wanted to blog, but I didn’t have the drive for it. I would think about it and then when it came down to sitting down and doing it, I just felt overwhelmed and would not start. I really enjoy playing video games in my free time to distress and have fun and I didn’t even want to do that. It even got to the point where my boyfriend kept telling me that I could put in my notice anytime I want and then look for another job. Who knows I may take him up on that, but for right now I am at a place where I am ok.

I will talk more about the good and bad of my job in my next post.

If you have stuck around with me and are still reading my posts, Thank You!

Setting Up The Department

I have had the conversations I needed to in order to get an inside look at what a Sales and Marketing department would look like.

Besides learning what I need to do to bring people and groups in I also learned that there are a lot of things that I do not have and I will have to create. I need to build a foundation and create one sheets with information about what we offer so that I will have informational sheets for when I go to companies and start prospecting. I need to have something to leave them with otherwise as soon as I walk out the door I will be forgotten and then it would have been for nothing.

Ok so what do I need to create:

  • FAQ
  • Fact Sheets about locations
  • Packages we have
  • Timelines
  • Updated Contracts
  • What food selections we have
  • BEO (Banquet Event Order)
  • A Spreadsheet for communication
  • Quotes
  • Invoices
  • Event Master Form
  • Flyers for Specific events

I also need to come up with promotions to try and sell events, the marketing side. For the first thing I am going to do is put up an event table at each of our locations with a contest to win a free event. I am going to do a jar where people have to guess how many items in the jar in order to win. This will give me contact information for people who already go to our locations, but may not have thought about having an event with us. I think one of the biggest reasons we do not have more private events is because people don’t even think we do that. If that is the case these tables will help with that. I am fortunate that I already have people walking in the door that I can sell to, but the whole goal is to bring in more and try and bring new people in. This table idea will not help with brining new people in, unless word of mouth gets around. What it will do is help generate extra income from the guests that already walk through our doors.

Another thing I have learned from my research is that you have to utilize what you have. Think about what makes your company special. Also how can your company help someone else or groups. We are normally so focused on working on the company from the inside out that we never really take the time to see our company from our guests perspective. By thinking about how the guests look at us we will be better able to sell them something they didn’t realize they needed.

The thing that makes what I am selling beneficial to a certain group would be making something that can be a frustrating situation an easy one. I am able to sell birthday party packages to our guests. With the birthday party packages we can do a public showing, so it is more affordable, and we can do a private event for them, something more special and not everyone does it. By creating, because we do not have anything like this now, birthday party packages we are able to assist parents in trying to figure out what to do for their child’s birthday party. Birthday party planning can be frustrating for some, so if I can create a package that is simple for our guests and inclusive so they don’t have to go around to a lot of different places to make the party happen I can help our guests while getting more business.

I also learned from my conversations that the easier it is for guests to book something the more likely they will. If the conversations with guests is not clear and they have to jump through hoops to get information they will just move on. Also when a guest contacts you about doing an event you need to respond back as soon as possible because the guest will tend to go with the first person who responds, as long as it is in their price range.

Ok I have a lot of things to work on in order to get this department rolling.

Starting A Job I have Never Done Before

Ok lets be real, I am terrified. I am terrified that I will fail and have no idea what I am doing. It is not a weakness to admit that you are scared. The fear is honestly what will drive you. I will use that fear to make myself better. If I went into this confident that no matter what I would succeed then I would not take the time to listen to people who have advise for me.

I have had a couple of conversations with people who have worked in sales, but I would say the best conversation I had was with my boyfriends mom.

The first person I talked to had a lot of advise to give, but the conversation was centered around what they did specifically in their job. This person came from theme parks, so still in the entertainment industry as I am. I was able to pull some things out of the conversation, but not as much as I hoped. The take away from this conversation was that prospecting and making the list for prospecting will be a long process. I was also told by this person that everyday I need to be prospecting, because for every 100 people I prospect to maybe 1 person will actually book an event. So the more people I reach out the better chance I have at getting someone to book with us.

The next person I talked to was someone who I worked with in hospitality so this one was a bit more personal for me. While working with this person I did see one side. I worked as the Accounting Manager and they worked as a Sales Manager. I saw the backside of sales. This conversation gave me the other side, the actually selling side. This conversation was more helpful than the first because I learned a process. The first conversation was more someone telling me what they liked about sales and how it was for them. This conversation gave me information that could be used for any industry. I learned that you have to find companies around you that could use your product and then get the contact information and reach out to them and show them your product. Then you go into contracting and execution of the actual event.

I also had a conversation with one of my best friends. She works for a huge company and does sales. Talk about someone who is at the top of her field. In talking to her I learned about making relationships with my groups and events. Building relationships help to bring repeat business. I also learned from her that huge companies do not book their own events. They use a different company to plan all their events for them. She said she would connect me to those companies. I am learning more and more that a lot to do with sales has to do with the connections you know.

Finally the best conversation was my boyfriends mother. Why this conversation stuck out to me as the best or the most successful conversation was because she related everything she talked about to me and my industry. She taught me how to look at the product that I have and think about who that would appeal to and reach out. For example if I wanted to do or promote an event that had to do with families then I need to look at parent groups or daycares and things like that. The advise I was given before was to reach out to as many people as possible and then hopefully a couple would say yes. Her approach would mean less work because you are thinking about how your product would benefit certain people or groups so they would be more interested in saying yes rather than just spamming everyone.

Every conversation that I had was a good one and I did get something from each of them. If you are consistently positive then you will get something from every interaction you have. You will learn more when you have an open mind as well. If you are humble and realize that someone may know more than you then you can learn from them. I did talk to some people who are younger than I am and I did learn something. In my past I have had an issue with people who are older than me not wanting to listen to me because they did not feel like I know more than they did just because I was younger. I decided after experiencing that first hand I would never do that to someone else.

What I enjoyed most about the different people I talked to was the variety. I was able to see a different side of sales with each person I talked to. There are so many different ways to approach sales and so many things that you can do with it. The most important thing I learned from each person was that the harder I work the more successful I will be.

After talking with each person I do feel more confident. I can do this!! Let the journey begin.

Where To Start

Ok I now have a new job, that I have never done before, so where do I start?

I recently was offered the Sales and Marketing position at my company. This opportunity would be something that I have not done, but I believe I have the skill set to do it. The only catch, I need to learn what this job entails.

I have done events with my company in the past, but they were very cookie cutter and if they group didn’t fit into what would work for us then we wouldn’t do it. Now I have the freedom to move things around and do actual events.

Oh yeah and the other catch, my company has never had a sales and marketing department so I will have to build it from the ground up. Also I am the only one in this department.

The first thing that I did was search online to see what is out there. What were other companies doing? What type of promotions were they doing? What pricing did other companies have? What time frames do other companies have?

I use to work in hospitality before coming to my company so I have a lot of friends who are in sales so I have people who know more than I do that I can get advise from. Also my boyfriends mother has been doing sales for most of her professional life and she is very successful. I am lucky to have good people around me who I can reach out to in order to get advise and be more successful. I am not alone in this. So now I need to schedule a meeting with each of them.

Some websites that I have found so far that I have learned some information from are:

  • Pinterest (I have used this site for sales and marketing. For the sales side I have pinned things that talk about prospecting and how to use a sales funnel. For the marketing side I have used it to get ideas about decorating for private events or promotions for events.) My Pinterest is under itsallabunchofgalati
  • Linked In (They have a lot of videos to learn from)
  • Different companies in my same industry, our competition.
  • Salesandmarketing.com

After looking around at different websites I have a better idea about what I am getting into. Now I will need to meet with people who know more than I do and start figuring out what I need to do to build the department.

So Much Has Changed

It has been a while and in that time so much has changed. I did start my new job and that was going well for a while. Then things started to go back to the way they were before and I ended up doing my original job and my old job.

I have some blog posts that I had created during that time, but I was not in the right head space to want to put anything up. I was in a state of frustration and maybe a little depression. I am now going to post those and after they have been posted, continue with my new adventure. I have decided to leave my company and this will be my last week here.

Life is constantly changing and evolving and we need to be open to change if something is not going the way you want. My decision about leaving my company was a hard one. I have learned a lot here and have really enjoyed the people I work with. For me this choice was made because I mentally have not been motivated here. I had been getting frustrated with things that I did not get upset with in the past and that to me was a sign that it was time to move on. There were things that lead up to the moment of me deciding that I was done and over the next few posts you will see how it unfolds.

I could just start fresh and not post any of the posts I made while things were not great, but I do know that other people may be going through or have gone through what I have. I hope in someone reading my posts that they can learn something from my experiences. For the longest time I thought the things I went through not many people did and the more people I meet and talk to the more I learn that we all tent to go through the same or similar things, granted each persons situations are different, but the underlining issues or emotions are the same.

If you are not happy with the situation that you are in then just remember that you are the only one who has the power to change that.

How To Give Your New Job a Fresh Start

Starting a new job can be stressful and it can also be exciting. There are many reasons people leave a job and go to another one, but no matter what job you start it is always the same, a fresh start. Maybe you wanted to leave your job because you felt under appreciated, someone kept trying to take your job, people were mean to you, you didn’t know how to do the job, it was to much stress, but no matter the reason you need to go into the new job with a fresh start in mind. Sometimes you don’t leave the company, but just changed departments or maybe you stayed in the same department, but you have a new role in the company. No matter what the situation is, you still need to look at it as a fresh start.

How to give your new job a fresh start:

  • Leave any negativity behind. By brining old drama to the new job you block your creativity and thoughts for the new one, because you will only focus on the negativity of the old. If the reason you left your old job was because of negativity then thinking about that still will mean that you didn’t really leave your old job, it is still with you.
  • Leave any frustrations behind. If there was something that was frustrating about your job before then you need to address what that was and make sure you do not do the same things in your new job. This is an opportunity to put those frustrations aside and go forward. If the frustrations are something that can be corrected then this is the time to do it.
  • Be positive!! I can not stress the importance of this one. No matter how your day is going be positive. A negative mind will ruin your job before it starts. Whatever issues that you had with the old job this is the time to fix them in yourself. A negative mind will only see the bad in things. When you remain positive you do not have stress. If you keep thinking that things will work out then they will. That is the same if you think things are going to fail, they will. Go into the job saying to yourself that you will be successful! You will do an amazing job!
  • Reflect on yourself. This is something that we all should do more often. It is an amazing thing when you can look at yourself and realize that you can do something better. Look at what you did great in your past job and look at what you might have failed in your last job. Now are there things that you could have done differently to change the outcome? Use that to be more successful in your new job. Make sure to take the things that you do really well to your next job. Sometimes we focus to much on what we need to do better that we forget to strengthen what we do well. If you focus on the things you do well, you will do them even better.
  • Have fun!! If you are going to a new company you will be meeting all new people. Make new friends and develop those relationships. We can learn so much from other people if we just take our pride out of the equation and listen. Use that to your advantage. There will be new restaurants that you can try for lunch. Maybe you will find a food that you had never tried and end up loving it. Learn new things. Not every job is the same and we should constantly be learning new things. You spend more time with your co-workers than you do your own family sometimes so why not make it a fun environment to work.
  • Remember nothing is permanent. This is not to scare you, but rather to say that if things are not going well that you are not stuck. You do not have to stay in a place that is draining you. On the other hand if you do love your new job, remember that there is always someone who will want to take your job. Do not dwell on that fact, but make sure you are on top of your game. Everyone has ups and downs, but as long as you are still engaged in your job you will be find.
  • Create balance in your life. Starting a new job can take a lot of your time at first while you get settled in, but remember that you do not live to work. You work to live. Remember that you have a personal life that also needs attention. Sometimes we get so focused on our professional lives that we forget to take care of our personal lives. Finding that balance can be hard, but if we are actively trying to get/maintain that balance then we will be more successful. Work hard and play hard. What is the point in killing yourself at work if you do not get to enjoy the spoils of your labor. Remember you matter to.

I am practicing all of this as well. I didn’t leave my company so some of these points are harder for me than if I did leave, but I am making an active effort for myself. I need to follow these “rules” in order to give myself the opportunity to be successful.

Remember if your dreams do not scare you, then they are not big enough. If you are thinking about taking a leap and going after a new job, I say do it! You got this! Go out into that world and show it how amazing you are!

Welcome Back!

Sorry it has been a while. So much has gone on and I have learned so much about myself in that time. So where to begin………

Holidays are a time to spend with your family and friends. What I didn’t realize was that it could also be a time to self reflect and take an honest look at your situation. I ended up doing this without even realizing it. It can be a hard thing to sit down and ask yourself if you are happy. It could be happy in your personal life or happy in your professional life. I am very happy in my personal life, but I didn’t realize that as time has gone on I have been growing more and more unhappy in my professional life. You may be thinking “how would you not realize you were unhappy at work?”. That is a great question and I look at it like weight gain. When you start gaining weight it is slow and you may not notice it until one day your pants are really tight and you have to go out and get a bigger size. That is how it was for me. There were days that I got irritated, but I would brush it off as a bad day.

I took some time off for the holidays and during that time I spent a lot of time thinking about my job and how I felt in it. I found out that I let certain situations affect how I was professionally. I noticed that professionally I had regressed instead of growing. My guest service had gone down, where I didn’t even want to deal with people. That is not the person that I am. Before this I was the person who went out of their way to help people. The culture in my office was negative and I let myself fall into that frame of mind. Outside of work people would say that I am a very positive person, but at work I was negative about everything. I started being more vocal about things that I didn’t like. How did I get to this point?

In April 2017 I had hip replacement surgery. Before this time I was happy at work. I would wake up excited to go to work. After I came back from my surgery things changed. While I was out my assistant was assisting with some of my tasks, but when I came back I did not get those items back. Now I had less things to do for my job and started to feel out of place. I was told that my role in the company would change and that I would get a new title and a new job description. I waited two months and still had not heard any updated. At that point I reached out to see if that was still happening and was told that they were working on the job description and that I would get it when it was done. Another month after that I was told the job description was done, but not the title. When they finally decided on a title and presented it to me I was not happy about it because it was a step down from what I was doing, yet the amount of work was more than what I was doing. After discussions we all finally agreed on a title that worked for everyone. There were things in the job description that I was not doing before and we were going to discuss how we wanted things rolled out. Well months went by and there was not discussion about it. My title was changed, but my work had not. I was increasingly feeling more and more lost. I felt like I didn’t really have a place in the company and when I asked for more to do and a more defined role I kept being told they would get to it, but they were busy. As time went on the person above me no longer seemed to care about their job and were looking to leave. I ended up taking up the slack they they were letting fall. My role in the company ended up becoming a catch all. Basically if something needed to be done the attitude was “oh Crystal can do that”. That is not a good place to be in.

The holiday was a good break away from everything to take a look from the outside to see what was going on. I found out that I no longer wanted to be in that environment. We ended up getting someone to replace the person above me and this person had a lot that I could learn from. I started to get excited about my job again. Then that person was going to leave because of the culture in the company. Now I was ready to leave. Then something I never thought would happen, the company decided to change the culture and make it positive. I was now going to be given a new role in the company and because of that I got excited again.

I was excited, but I noticed that I would get irritated about things that would not normally affect me. Well I have come to realize maybe I can not let what I went through go quite as easily as I thought I could. This is something I need to deal with. I am still working on that for myself, but I have decided that I have the power to not let a company culture change the person I want to be.

This leads me to where I am now. I am excited about my new role, but I do still have a feeling of unease. I need to continue to work through that and figure out the true issues I am holding onto and learn how to let them go. If I can not do that then I need to do what is best for myself and for the company and that would be to leave. That is not the direction I want to go, but I need to check myself.

This blog will now have two parts to it. I will continue to write about life advise. Now though I have the opportunity to share my experience with starting a new job that I have not done before. I would say that I do not have the job knowledge to do my job, but I do have the skills to learn this job and to succeed in this job. I am now the Event Sales and Marketing Manager for my company. I will distinguish the life advise posts and the sales and marketing posts so that if you are not interested in both of them you can chose what to read. I can tell you that this will be an interesting journey I am embarking on. There are going to be two options for an outcome. I will either be very successful in this or I will fail at it. Failure is not a bad thing. Without failure we would never learn new things. I can admit when I have been defeated, but I don’t intend on having to do that with this journey. I can tell you there will be ups and downs, but it will be a fun ride.

Rules To Meeting The Parents

Meeting the parents can be scary, but it can also be exciting at the same time. Meeting your significant others parents is a big deal. Most people don’t tend to introduce the person they are dating to their parents until they are sure about the relationship. There are exceptions to this, but most of the time meeting the parents is the next step in the relationship. If you have made it this far congratulations!! Meeting the parents means that you are an important person in your significant others life and so they want to introduce you to the other important people in their life. Sometimes meeting the friends is more important than meeting the parents. If that is the case then these rules can be followed as well.

Here are a few simple rules to help get you started:

1.       Don’t freak out! Yes, it can be scary, but concentrate on the good things not the negative what if situations. Keep reminding yourself that your significant other wants you to meet them so they think that you are ready and it is the right time. Also remember that they don’t know you either so the parents will be just as nervous as you are.

2.       They want to meet you! This is a big one to remember and yet most of us forget this part. The parents want to get to know the person that their child is crazy about. Up until this point they only know you through what your significant other has told them. There is also a chance that your significant other has not told them anything so this is the opportunity for the parents to get to know you.

3.       Ask questions! Your significant other is a well of knowledge for you. This is your opportunity to learn as much as possible so you don’t go into this situation blind. Some good things to learn are what topics to stay away from. What their interests are so that if you share the same you will have some topics to talk about. Found out if there is any drama that you will need to stay away from. The last thing you want to do is put your foot in your mouth.

4.       Use basic manners! If you have perfect manners then great, you can skip the rest of this and go onto number five. The most basic manners are please and thank you. The issue that I have is not my please and thank you, it is swearing. I am a lady, but I tend to swear like a sailor. I know this is not a good thing and I need to be better about it, but around the parents it is a no no. Make sure to be respectful even if someone else is not. Extra brownie points if you offer to help, mothers love that.

5.       Know your audience! Two topics to stay away from as a general rule are politics and religion. If you know before hand, ask questions, that you share the same religious background or have the same opinions about politics then it is ok. Religion and politics can start a heated conversation, so if that is what you want then talk away.

6.       Be yourself!! This is the most important rule. Do not try and be the person that you think they want you to be. If you do this then you will come off as fake. Your significant other fell for you, not someone else. Let your personality shine through. If your significant other told their parents about you then they will be excited to meet YOU.

The best advise I can give is to go into the situation with an open mind and always be respectful. If you are relaxed and be yourself, I am sure their parents will fall in love with you as your significant other did.

DSC_0836_Photoshopped

I just recently met my boyfriends’ parents, this Thanksgiving, and I can say that I was nervous, but I followed these rules and it went great. I can say that I wanted his mom to like me because he is close to his mom, but I didn’t change the way I did things, well I did not swear so for me that was a positive good life change. In my opinion things went really well, but just to make sure I asked my boyfriend and he said his mom liked me. I hope this helps you get through a scary situation.

Please share any rules or tips that would help others. The whole point of this is to share knowledge and help others get through life. Life can be hard so even a little help can make it easier.  

5 Ways To Help After A Disaster

When someone goes through a disaster there are so many things going on. The person who it is directly affecting has so much to think about all at once and those who care about them only want to help. Here is a list of things to keep in mind when wanting to help someone in need. I am writing these rules from my experience from the Paradise Camp Fire, but they can be translated over other disasters such as floods or earthquakes. I am not saying by any means that I am an expert in this type of situation, but I have seen from personal experience what it is like. So no this is now that “law” of what to do, but my opinion from experience.

  1. The first and most important thing to remember is that the person who is suffering has so much going through their mind that first day and the devastation of what has happened has not even sunk in. Do Not ask them what they need, because honestly, they don’t even know. They have not begun to think about the future and how-to re-build or deal with what has happened. If they lost someone, or a pet, there is so much more emotions there. The best thing to do is tell them that you care about them and that you will be there for them should they need support.
  2. Do not tell them that it is just stuff. Yes, that is a fact that it is stuff and that as long as their families are safe that is all that matters. The reality is that the “stuff” was years of their life that they built up through hard work and every item means something. People lose photos of family members, friends, and people they have cared about that are now gone. Sometimes people lose family heirlooms. Those items cannot be replaced. Things like clothes can be replaced, but have you ever thought about the cost of replacing a whole wardrobe? Just to give you an idea about what replacing a wardrobe would cost, underwear (5 for $20 x 2 = $40), shirts ($15 each on average x 10 = $150), pants ($20 each on average x 5 = $100), and pajamas ($20 each on average x 5 = $100). The total for 10 days is $490. The prices I quoted were from Target. I personally have never thought about having to replace my essentials so in making this and looking at the numbers it really opens my eyes to what additional stress has been put on everyone who lost everything.
  3. Be aware when you are donating items. When donating items to people in need make sure that it is actually items they need and you are not just giving them the stuff you meant to take to Goodwill and never did. The clothing items should be in good or like new conditions. Please do not give them items with holes, rips, or stains in them. They are trying to re-build their lives so give them items that will help them be successful in life. I know we all want to help that first day and do what we can, but remember that they maybe displaces and do not have somewhere to store all the items you want to give them. As time goes on they will need to replace everything so donations of big items at that point would be good. At first the best type of donations are cash, given directly to the person you know or a GoFundMe account, or gift cards for them to use to buy the items they need. Donating food is a good thing, but you don’t know what some people dietary needs are or any restriction that they may have and that is why gift cards or cash sometimes is a better option. If you are going to donate through an organization make sure you do research to find out how much of your donation is actually going to go to the people in need, you would be surprised how many organizations only give a small percentage of the donation to the people in need.
  4. Be that shoulder or support system for them. Losing everything causes to so much stress. If you can be their rock or a crutch to help hold them up it will help their situation even if they don’t realize it till later. Some things that you can do to help out. If they have children offer to watch their children so the adults can do something as simple as going to dinner together, this will allow the parents to talk candidly with each other and not worry about upsetting the kids. It will also give the adults time to stop and think about the situation. Even just watching their kids so the parents don’t have to worry about entertaining the kids is huge. You can also be their point person for other family members. It is a lot to handle when everyone is calling you non-stop asking if you are ok and what you need. You can be the person who calls the rest of the family and tells them that they are safe and what they do or do not need at that time. Also if they were evacuated and don’t know if they lost everything or not and then find out that they did lose everything you can be the one to call family members and tell them as it will be too emotional for them to articulate that to others. You can be the one to set up a GoFundMe account should that be needed. If someone is missing you can be the one to put that out on Facebook to try help. Always remember that to these people their whole world is crumbling down around them in that moment. They will have thoughts going through their head like why did this happen to us, how could I have prevented this, what will I do now, and where will I live now. If they have children there concern will be about what is best for the children. Going through something devastating is a trauma and never try to play that down. It will take a good amount of time for them to ever feel safe again. It will be something that they will never forget. Imagine going to bed every night wondering if a fire will come while they were sleeping and they would not be able to get out, now you know how they are feeling. Don’t tell them to be happy or not to be sad. Their feelings are valid and you cannot fix it for them. Just be there for them.
  5. Be creative with how you give back. There are so many more ways for you to be able to help without having to give money or donate your items. If you are unable to help financially you can always help with your time. If it is a large scale disaster you can volunteer to help at shelters, places that are housing displaces animals and people, places that are giving out food or clothing donations. Giving your time can be just as helpful as giving money; sometimes it is even more helpful. You can help clean up after a disaster; this is also an opportunity to be there emotionally for them, because as they go through the rubble they will get emotional. Let them feel what they are feeling, but hug them and tell them they are not alone and that they are loved. If you own a business you can offer your services or skills, such as free haircuts and blowouts, veterinary skills or nursing skills for injured animals and people. If you have a spare bedroom or extra room in your home you can help by giving them a warm safe place to sleep at night. They might have lost their car so you can offer to help by driving them around to where they need to be. There are so many things that can be done that do not have to be monetary donations.

The most important thing to remember is that emotions will be high and anything can set someone off and make them sad or even mad. Never tell them that it is not ok, because it is more than ok. Everyone copes in their own way, so even someone who seems like they are ok and put together may just be feeling like they need to be strong for everyone else, but when they are alone they break down. Know that no matter what someone says, even if they say they are fine, inside they are not, hug them and let them know they are not alone. Sometimes even that simple act can mean so much.

This is a safe space to share your experiences, to vent about your situation, or to offer your advice about what you may have experienced and how people can help so please feel free to comment on this post. If you need someone to talk to or vent to and you don’t want to do it publicly reach out to me by email and I can be that person for you.

Donations for Paradise Camp Fire

If you were looking for a place to make direct donations to the people of the Paradise Camp Fire you can do that here. Please do NOT feel like you have to donate here. I only put this here because I have had people emailing asking if I was taking donations. The money collected will be given directly to families from Paradise who are in need. I am not going to donate it to a foundation, as that involves to much paperwork and time for those families when they need help now, not later.

$10.00