Monday, May 15, 2006

Cooling Our Heels...While Boiling Inside!

I had a day that, I think, plays itself out over and over in business. I had several business meetings on a rainy Friday. Nothing new here, but what I did notice was a problem with those meetings that mounted over the course of the day.

People were late.

Let me break it down for you, so you understand what happened. The first meeting, a teleconference, was scheduled for 9:00 am. At 9 sharp, my phone rang. Perfect. Then it started to slide. The second meeting started 20 minutes late: one participant got trapped on the interstate behind an accident on a rain-slick road. He did contact both of us by email (he was sitting long enough that he got out his trusty Treo (yes, I'm still jealous) and tapped out an urgent missive. Next, a meeting right after lunch. I was to introduce a business owner to a banker for a possible referral relationship. I'd confirmed the meeting with them both a few days before and still, strangely, got a call from one of the participants 10 minutes before the scheduled start asking when and where the meeting was to be. He arrived 30 minutes late -- right after I sent the banker back to her office with my apologies. Then, a 3:00 meeting where the participant showed up 45 minutes late and rounding up the day with a call 90 minutes after the scheduled time.

Now, what was interesting was that none of these meetings were sales calls -- people feel quite free to "blow off" sales people (I think rude is rude, but there it is). They were opportunities for me to network and help other business owners make contact with other business owners.

We're getting really weird about time. More so, we're not getting the relationship between integrity and people's willingness to do business with us. You can't be on time for a meeting -- you won't be on time with my order or with a contact I give you.

Question is: who do you blow off?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

LNB #010: The 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing Pt. 3

As if the first 2 sins weren't deadly enough, Leighton Haynes is back to share more common things we can do to mess up our marketing!

Listen Now: 12:45

Saturday, May 06, 2006

LNB #009: Take Your Vacation!

Plan ahead for maximum relaxation with minimum checking in.

As soon as possible, commit the time and the money. Let people know that you're planning a vacation.

If your business is seasonal, think ahead and plan your vacation for the downtime. Another tack is to plan your vacation when you know your clients will be gone. How will you know? Ask them. They’ll happily tell you all about when they’ll be lying on the beach in Aruba (wouldn’t you)?

Combine business with pleasure. Plan a vacation at the end of a business trip to save you airfare and, perhaps, give you some leverage to negotiate a lower hotel rate.

"I’m too important to my company to take a vacation. If I’m not there, things fall apart.” You, my friend, may have other problems. Your staff should be able to run the core aspects of your business in your absence. The Marines, your mayor, the head of your utility company and even the president of United States takes vacations every year (note: more than one). If you don’t trust your employees to cover for you – you may have a simple issue of training. Write out procedures detailing your accountabilities and have them shadow you. If you still feel uncomfortable you may have the wrong people in place or may need help learning how to let go. Be sure that you have written procedures and have trained your employees how to follow them.

If a week-long vacation is out, plan what fellow coach, Susan Levinson of Leverage Your Power calls a "Power Trip" – 2-3 day weekends scattered throughout the year, some coupled with personal development.

Right Before You Leave
  • Create project lists with key details and expectations for the people who will be covering for you.

  • Establish one point person you’ll be in contact with and a system for contact.

  • Let your clients, prospects, vendors and suppliers know you’ll be gone and who to contact in your absence.

  • Set up an away-message on your email account.

  • Pre-plan for your re-entry. Keep your calendar clear your first day back. You’ll need it to get caught up.

While You’re Away

Check in once a day if you can’t go cold-turkey. If you have to check your email while you’re gone (yes, that’s me), schedule any non-critical email replies to go out the day you get back.

Upon Your Return

Take a day to sort and plan.
Pitch the junk mail, trades and newspapers – you probably won’t have time to read them and they aren’t attractive lining your credenza. Collect your voicemails and emails and do a little triage, figuring out what needs your attention now, later, needs someone else to take action and need never be seen again.

Create a message to say that you’re back and when people can reach you.

Email your clients, vendors and suppliers letting them know that you’re back.

Thank the people who made it possible for you to be away.

Listen Now: 8:16