Punctuality: The difference between customer service and business success and failure?
Late is late, on-time is late, early is on time. I learned this lesson at a very early age. One of my first bosses explained it this way; late is late (not much to say here)… On time is late. If you were supposed to start working at 1:00 and you arrive to work exactly at 1:00, you can’t possibly be working at 1:00 since you are just arriving. The only way to be on time was to be early.
“Punctuality provides personal power” Dan Kennedy’s Time Truth #4. In his book Time Management for Entrepreneurs, Dan explains that being on time gives you the right, positioning and moral authority to expect and demand that others treat your time with respect. And you can’t get respect for your time if you fail to show someone else respect for their time. If you are not punctual, you have no leverage. The punctual person has the most advantage over staff, vendors and clients.
I have a notoriously short fuse when others waste or otherwise disrespect my time. My fuse is even shorter, almost non-existent when it comes to dealing with vendors. Especially ones that show up late to a sales meeting. Not long ago, I adopted my own rule when it came to sales meetings. If I were the sales person, I ALWAYS showed up 15-30 minutes early to the meeting place. Who know what could happen on the way there? I could get stuck behind a school bus or a tractor on a country lane. I was present in the moment, ready for my client to appear. I value their time as much as I value my own.
But on the flip side, if I am the client waiting for the sales person… They do not even get one minute of grace time. If the meeting is scheduled at 9:00 and they have not shown up by 9:00, I am out of there. 9:01 and I am out the door. They obviously have no respect for my time. And probably cannot be trusted in other ways as well. You may consider this harsh and unfair, but I see it as being tough minded and protective of my assets.
When I violate my own rule, I am ALWAYS sorry that I did. You see… there is a direct correlation between punctuality and integrity. In my mind, I can make the leap from the salesperson being late to the initial sales meeting, to having all manner of things go wrong in the delivery of their product. Recently, against my better judgement, I violated my rule. I was to meet a salesperson for a new product for coffee at 10:00 am. This person had been referred to me by another business associate and both the salesperson and the product came highly recommended. At 10:05 I was ready to leave the restaurant (and I should have), when he came in out of breath and slightly disheveled.
No apology, no explanation, he just sat down and started talking, almost like I wasn’t there. After about 10 minutes of him blathering on about how great his product was, it was time to see the samples he was to show me. But alas, he had forgotten them in his office. At this point there was no sense in continuing the meeting, but he had another plan. He suggested that I follow him in his car (he did not offer to drive me) to his office to see the product. I had had enough. I told him that I was out of time.
I correctly surmised that either he would be out of a job or that the company would go under within the next 6 months. At month 4, he was out on the street looking for a job and by month 7 the company was shuttered. I have a feeling that the entire company was run the way this salesperson acted; late, out of breath and slightly disheveled. Luckily, I never did business with them.
Take the time now, to assess you and your team’s punctuality. It may just be the reason your sales and client service numbers are down.
For more on Disney Style Service and small business marketing, check out my free special report “Systematic MAGIC, How to Disnify Any Business”. Vance Morris is a Walt Disney World Resort Management Alumni, having spent 10 years as an executive in the Resorts. He runs the only Disney Service & Direct Response Marketing business on the planet. Here he coaches companies to create Disney Style Service Systems and then monetize them through direct response marketing. He is also the reigning GKIC Marketer of the Year. He can be reached at www.DeliverServiceNow.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .