FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|“Time is Money”||
|By: Ron Brounes||
The other day I was supposed to meet a buddy of mine for somewhat of a business lunch. In order to accommodate his busy morning schedule, we arranged to meet at a neighborhood Mexican restaurant at 1:00 p.m. I arrived first and chose not to be seated immediately, but instead to wait until he showed up. I knew I would have inhaled two full baskets of chips and hot sauce (at least) had I chosen to sit at a table. Anyway, I passed the time by catching up on the news of the day in the Wall Street Journal. By 1:10 p.m. I had read the comments by Greenspan about a slowing economy. By 1:20 p.m., I had read about Apple Computer missing their earnings and the negative backlash on the tech sector. (So what else is new?) By 1:30 p.m., I had read about Bush’s shortlist for Treasury Secretary. (I also read the movie reviews and my horoscope in the Lifestyle section of the Houston Chronicle.) And my friend had yet to arrive.
Now, I’ve come to accept getting stood up on blind dates and in other social situations, but do not expect it to happen in a business setting. I called his cell phone only to find out that he had been held up in his morning appointment and was unable to contact me or the restaurant. (WHATEVER!!!) I decided against dining in the restaurant alone (too sad) and instead headed to Chick-fil-A for the fourth day in a row (even sadder). I wasn’t overly upset about his missing the lunch and I knew his excuse was legitimate. Still, this incident reminded me of a few other similar situations that have happened to me in the past. And I suspect I am not alone. As I devoured my “super sized number one with a lemonade” in my car, I asked myself this simple question: “Why does everyone think their time is so much more valuable than mine?”
CASES IN POINT
Several months back I had an appointment scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. The day before, my client called to see if I could come by at 1:00 p.m. instead because he was hoping to get in a quick 18 on the links that afternoon. After rearranging a few things, I was able to oblige. I showed up at 1:00 p.m. only to find that my client was not there. “Tiger” called 15 minutes later to tell his secretary that he was leaving lunch and to have me wait until he arrived.
Another time, a client insisted on us getting together at 7:30 a.m. since she had an incredibly hectic schedule that day. (So much for my morning jog.) Not being overly familiar with the morning downtown traffic, I left early and even arrived with enough time to spare to grab a cup of coffee and read the paper in the lobby of her building. About 7:28 a.m., I wandered upstairs, only to find the office still locked with no one in sight. A few minutes later, another employee showed up, let me in, checked the voice mail, and informed me that my client was stuck in traffic and would be there momentarily. She arrived 30 minutes later.
Just a few weeks ago, I showed up for an appointment only to find that my client was still in another meeting that was lasting a tad longer than he expected. When he heard that I had arrived, he poked his head out of the conference room, apologized, and asked if I could give him a few more minutes to wrap up his session. When another 20 minutes passed with no sign of my client, I packed up my briefcase and left.
(Don’t worry about me, though. In each of these situations, I billed my clients for the time they kept me waiting.)
Now don’t get me wrong; I certainly understand that circumstances occur beyond one’s control that lead to appointments getting postponed or canceled. I admit that I am far from the most punctual of individuals and have been known to arrive late for family functions and social affairs. (To make matters worse, my parents always arrive 15 minutes early.) However, I always make every effort to show up on time for business meetings, call to confirm a day in advance, and notify the other party if I will be detained. In more cases than not, most business professionals are quite cordial and even apologetic about missed or delayed appointments. Unfortunately, I have also found that there are some self-important business people running around out there who believe that their schedules are far more important that everyone else’s. They insist on abiding by their rules and their timetables. Yet, these are the very first people to complain about budgets, billings, deadlines, and quality of work. (Or so I hear; this never happens to me, of course.)
I RESOLVE TO…
With the New Year’s Resolution season upon us, my goal is to learn from these situations and resolve to do a better job of respecting the timetables of others. I will try not to purposely show up late at a busy restaurant when I know that my party will arrive on time and put our names on the list. I will try not to watch that last five minutes of Seinfeld and Friends reruns when I know that others are expecting me. I will try to contact parties in advance when I sense that I may be detained from showing up on schedule (because of a really good Seinfeld). I will try to make up for such situations when my inconsiderate actions and delays may have subjected others to hardships. I will try not to schedule appointments too close together, thus, decreasing the chance that I may have to leave one early or be late to the other. I will try to promptly respond to phone calls, emails, and other correspondences, especially when I know that others are waiting to hear back. I will try to RSVP to business and social events on a timely basis (or at all), and not wait until that due date approaches (or passes). I will try not to accept appointments or social engagements, though fully intending to “better deal” those parties when another more appealing opportunity arises. Similarly, I will try not to hold off on accepting appointments or social engagements because I suspect a “better deal” will come along. I will try to give people enough notice to participate in meetings or programs and realize that not everyone (besides me) waits until the last minute to make plans. In the meantime, I will continue to bring my Wall Street Journal (and horoscope page) to any and all appointments, just in case.
On a related note: Yesterday, I was on my way to an appointment (well in advance) when I had a blowout on the Interstate. (Firestone strikes again.) Needless to say, after watching countless cussing drivers proclaim “I’m number one” (with their middle fingers) as they drove by, hearing about myself on the radio traffic report, waiting for that $125 tow truck, learning that my other three tires were equally bad, buying four new tires (not Firestone), bumming a ride to the downtown building from my sister, I showed up about 45 minutes late for my meeting. (I called to let them know, of course.) As I walked into the room, drained from my ordeal, I apologized profusely and went into a long drawn out explanation. The expressions on their faces said a collective “WHATEVER.” (Actually they were quite sympathetic.) I just hope they don’t think I’m one of those self-important people???
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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH is a publication of Brounes & Associates focusing on business marketing and general communications strategies. Please call Ron Brounes at 713-432-1910 for additional information. All of us at Brounes & Associates (that’s me) wish each and every one of you (self-important people as well) a very happy, healthy holiday season and a prosperous new year. Remember, we’re working hard for you (and the country).