Bad Business is not Nice Business

Recently, the association management company who managed the meeting of a past client was rude to my marketing director – first on the phone, then in an email. I observed his ugliness when I worked with my client a few years ago. He was arrogant, unkind, and seemingly an unhappy person, who is likely paid handsomely to manage the association for which I was hired to give a keynote speech. Fortunately, in my profession, most people are really kind and encouraging. It is incredible rare to run across the rude behavior we both experienced. So when it happens, it’s like jumping into an ice-cold lake. It takes your breath away.

It’s pretty easy to be nice and doing so has advantages.

So if you aren’t being “nice”, how do you know? I think you aren’t nice if your regularly do any of the following:

1) Asking your company receptionist to lie for you (telling callers you are in a meeting when you aren’t). Even screening calls is not nice.

2) Failing to return calls. If someone leaves you a message, call them back – even if you have to do so before or after hours because you don’t have time to talk.

3) Lying or even “bending” the truth. If you don’t see a need for the products or services being offered, KINDLY tell the person selling. “Bob, thank you for your call. I know your time is precious and I really don’t want to waste it by telling you to call me back later. I don’t see a fit with your company/your products, etc. Thank you for thinking of me and I do wish you well.” (it took me less than 30 seconds to compose that!)

4) Playing the “I’m busy” game. Even though I am sure people are busy, their busy doesn’t trump anyone else’s busy.

5) Being rude. It’s a poor reflection on you and your business when you are rude to anyone for any reason. It should never be tolerated.

It’s usually true that what comes around goes around. Eventually, my client will find out about the rudeness displayed by the “professional” they hired to manage their association. While I don’t wish him misfortune, I do wish that the rudeness he displayed would not be tolerated. There are plenty of people who know business nice. Hire nice. Train nice. Reward nice. Only tolerate nice.

Show up and Stand Out!

We’ve all been there. We hire a highly recommended service provider, vendor, or company. They sound good on the phone. They say all the right things. They have the right experience. They say they will show up on Tuesday at 2:00 but the appointment time comes and they don’t show up or if they show up, they are unprepared. Then there are delays and the job isn’t done when promised nor to our satisfaction. My guess Ace Painting heard this from some of their customers and decided that they were going to differentiate by putting their promise in a website- I show up! Sometimes that is all it takes to be selected for the project, promotion, or, in my case, the presentation. While showing up can be a differentiator, you need to do more – you need to stand out. Below are a few ways to do that:

1) Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. Keep impeccable records of conversations with your customers and use calendaring tools and reminders to keep on track and on time.

2) Be easy to do business with. If you aren’t sure if your business is easy, there is a very simple way to find out. Ask your customers. Then listen to what they tell you. Hire someone to conduct a focus group, use a mystery shopper, or utilize a simple survey.

3) Solve problems for your customers and help them with strategies to make their business better. Find out about their industry – their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Learn about their competitors and even other innovative or transformational organizations worth benchmarking.

4) Give them something extra that they weren’t anticipating. Give them an extra service, thank them with a gift that is customized specifically for them and communicate your gratitude with a personalized handwritten note.

In today’s business climate, showing up is more important than ever but in a sea filled with people and businesses who fail to deliver the basics, you and your organization can also be noticed by regularly standing out.

Smelling roses can lead to innovation

Are you taking time to smell the roses? Recently I had the opportunity to work in a stunningly beautiful location. Because I have worked with this client several times, I was taking the scenery for granted. I took the above picture of my stunning view and sent it to my company’s marketing director with the tagline – “My office this afternoon“. My INTENT was to work on some creative projects in a place that would likely help inspire me. However, I never even got my toes in the sand. I got caught up in other time-intensive tasks. While they were important and arguably necessary, I certainly could have made some time to ponder, think, and reflect. It’s almost impossible to develop new ideas or innovations if our scenery never changes.  Because I have worked with this client several times, I have been taking scenes like this for granted.

Take time this week, no matter how small of window you have, to find a place that inspires you to have reflective time to think deeply. Be still, and let your creativity simmer. In addition, consider taking one or more of the following actions:

– Block out an entire day (or even a half day if that is all you can find) to think about a solution to a problem or to ponder a new idea

– Read a new book that challenges an assumption you have or one that causes your mind to be stretched

– Book a day outing or weekend trip that involves something you have never before experienced

– Instead of making a quick decision on a complex problem, take a walk in a beautiful environment and let your subconscious brain go to work on a solution 

The wise philosopher I. M. Anonymous once said, “If you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you have always gotten”.  Step out of your comfort zone and make time, space, and silence for a new discovery or to solve a problem you have been pondering.