A lot of what we do, we take for granted. I realized that this weekend while escorting a trip. Many of my clients came up and thanked me for doing what I felt was, “just my job.” I spoke to a few in detail and asked why the thanks. Their answer astounded me, “this trip is exactly as we had hoped.” Well of course it was, that’s why I planned it this way. But further prodding revealed that they were expecting some of the activities we offered to not be offered and the cost to be more than we said. I like to think I am a man of my word, and this really confused me—and then it dawned on me.
In a perfect world, 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. Think about the number of times your expectations are not met. They can be small items like a diet Coke when you asked for regular, or your doctor being 45 minutes late for your appointment. By doing what you say, you will be leaps and bounds above the competition. And here are a few ways you can assure that!
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 wrote a column in 2012 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 everyone 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,” better yet, YOU have a “Plan B” before you bail.
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
A current commercial for USAA says, “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 productively—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 standard 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–and they will continue to happen. But if you make a sincere and consistent effort to honor your commitments, you likely will have more clients than you can handle.
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.