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Do You Know What Time It Is?

Do You Know What Time It Is?

Philippians 2:3-4 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."

As I left my house at 5:15 one Saturday morning in May, several years ago, I was thinking of a long day filled with sales appointments. My first one was at 6am, my last at 5pm. Arriving early, I pulled over down the street, and looked over my schedule. It was packed with nine appointments, all in different towns on Long Island. I had hoped I left enough time between them so I would not be late for any of them. I also had hoped it would be a good day of selling as this was the prime time of year for my landscape design and construction company. Pulling into the customers driveway at 5:59, I was about to get an answer to one of my early morning questions. The homeowner, meeting me in the driveway, announced, “You have the job!” It looked like the day was off to a good start.

“Treat your industry as a profession and act professional.” This was some of the advice my father, a dentist, gave to my brother Pat and me when we told him of our plans to start a landscape business. He went on to encourage us to have a clean and neat appearance (you, your future employees, trucks and equipment), commit yourself to excellent work, and above all, treat your customers with great respect and consideration.

First Impressions
Considering others first, is such an important principle in our lives. It transcends business, affecting our personal lives as well. For the customer, demonstrating this principle is put to the first test when we show up at their door. Did we consider their time and hectic schedule by arriving on time for the appointment? Of course, dressing neatly, arriving in a clean vehicle, with a pleasant greeting and being professionally prepared (pen/pencil, proper note pad, Project Detail Form, etc), are all important ingredients to a good first impression. Being on time, however, clearly demonstrates your understanding and consideration of THEIR TIME. Tardiness, in your customers’ (bosses, co-workers, friend, etc) mind, equates to a lack of discipline, consideration for them, and being unprofessional. Maybe for most industries you have a grace period of a minute or two to be late. Ten minutes late…..you’re guilty. You are already judged negatively, even before you shake hands!

Mr. Murphy would explain to me how he had a hard time getting contractors to show up for their appointments and how some were hours behind schedule. He was tired of the process. My company was recommended to him (as were some of the others) and figured the first person to show up on time would get the job. Being on time and making a good first impression went a long way to establishing a long and profitable relationship with Mr. Murphy.

So What?
Maybe you’re like me, knowing you need to do something and not knowing exactly HOW. This can be frustrating and ultimately defeating. Below are some steps you can take to demonstrate consideration of other people’s time.

-Be organized. Spend time the night before to organize your schedule for the next day. You need contingency plans for the unexpected. Plan for them and don’t let them surprise you. We can’t always have a ready plan for every problem, but most of us can do a much better job of being prepared than we are doing now. How about you?

-Plan on arriving fifteen minutes early to help address lost time on last minute items or even some traffic. Travel with some extra paperwork or phone calls to make. Get close to your appointment early, pull over and get some extra work done. Pull up a minute early, leave your cell phone in your clean vehicle, nicely dressed and prepared for taking notes. Say hello with passion and enthusiasm and know you just made a great first impression!

-If you’re going to be late, call them. Call ten minutes before your appointment if you will be ten, maybe fifteen minutes late. Do not assume this is ok for them…..ask. Say something like “I want to make sure this is not an inconvenience for you.” Most will appreciate the call and usually tell you. Once you get there, thank them for the flexibility of their time and that you appreciate it.

-If you are really late (more than fifteen minutes) you should know this and need to call well in advance of the appointment. Ask them if you could move the appointment back to an appropriate time or change it to another day. If they graciously say yes to your request, thank them on the phone and in person when you get there. Again, never assume this is ok for them. I have lost opportunities because I was excessively late and the person did not wish to reschedule. These scenarios must truly be a rare occurrence. Tardiness will kill any business or career.

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