Over the past week, two clients have thanked me for simply doing what I said I’d do. Initially I was flummoxed. After all, who doesn’t follow through with a client? Certainly not anyone that is hoping to be successful in the über competitive travel business. And then it dawned on me.
In a perfect world, we’d take it for granted that people would actually come through on their promises and commitments. But in the real world, it seems that people don’t always put their words into action. If I look for it, I see it all the time, from the teacher who missed an appointment to discuss my daughter’s progress to waiter who promised that my iced tea was unsweetened.
If you’re like me, you probably have a friend who always talks big, but never comes through. Maybe it is helping you move. Or even something as simple as being on time—or even reasonably close. While minor in the grand scheme of things, these friends are indeed letting you down.
This is not to say that “s” doesn’t happen. I am sure you have had to bail out of a commitment at the last minute. My biggest “bail” was on escorting a large group to Turks & Caicos a few years back—the night before I was to fly down, I tore up my knee and was in surgery as the plane was leaving. I lost a few clients because of that, but it was unavoidable—well avoidable if I hadn’t tripped over nothing. Problems happen. But as a business owner, you need to strive to be a man (or woman) of your word. Here are a few tips.
The easiest way to avoid missing a commitment is to make sure you don’t take on too much. That is a no-brainer. But the most difficult part of this is learning to say “no.” You need to learn to say “no” to your customers as well as yourself. Richard Earls has a column about half-finished projects. Don’t become a victim.
Don’t Bail at the Last Minute
If you do end up over-committing yourself, and find you will not be able to honor a commitment, notify people as far in advance as possible. Don’t spring it on them at the last minute. Show some courtesy and give the disappointed party some time to come up with a “Plan B.” And remember, you can also change the commitment—instead of promising a quote by noon, change it to the close of business if that helps.
Don’t Be Disorganized
This is my personal demon at times. Sometimes, people have great intentions, but live in such a disorganized mess that there’s little to no hope of them ever following through. Mistakes happen, but being organized will help reduce them. Make time to periodically clean your desk. Utilize an effective calendar and appointment system. Find a method to keep yourself organized at all costs—it could be old school index cards and a Rolodex or the ClientBase CRM. And most importantly, use the tool.
Don’t Be Late
If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re late. It might seem minor, but being punctual shows your respect for other people’s time. Arrive early. If you have some time to wait, use it for productivity—whip out the smart phone or tablet and get a few minutes of work under your belt. Look at your schedule, is traffic messing you up? Are meetings always running late? Are you just an optimistic estimator of time? I am, just ask me how long it takes to get anywhere and my answer is “about five minutes.”
As I mentioned, none of us are perfect –there are more commitments in today’s world than ever before. At times, we have all screwed up and missed an appointment or dropped the ball. “S” happens, emergencies come up. But if you make a sincere and consistent effort to honor your commitments, you likely will have more clients than you can handle. And in that case, just say “no.”
Do you keep your commitments? All the time? Most of the time? Some of the time? How do you keep yourself on track? Please let me know in the comments.