Yes, you read that right. I ran off and left my boss. We were going to go to an appointment with one of our company’s best clients. The man we were seeing was in the highest position of authority and well known across our state. My boss at the time, one of my favorite people to this day I might add, kept telling me, “Just a second” every time I would tell him we needed to leave. This went on for a good 15 minutes.
It got down to the time where I knew we had to leave now or show up late, so I weighed my options. Was waiting for my boss more important than pleasing the client? As a senior sales rep on 100 percent commission, the choice was easy. I left the office and told another rep to tell the boss where I went and he could meet met there if he wanted.
Note, I do not recommend doing this. It worked out ok and the boss had a good laugh, but more often than not you’ll find yourself out of a job. I knew my audience.
My son learned to be on time at an early age. When he arrived at the theater for his first ever acting class, I remember Adam Bryan announcing, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” That stuck with him and has served him well through high school and now into college where there’s no parent to micromanage his affairs. It’s on him.
In the business world I’ve discovered that many people could have benefited from acting class and a director’s words of wisdom. Company representatives and vendors show up late or not at all. In my experience, if you value your client and want to foster a long-term relationship with them, respecting their time goes a long way toward making that happen.
Let’s quantify what is acceptable as “early.” While having lunch with a friend, he received an urgent call from his office. The large piece of equipment he ordered that was scheduled to be delivered later in the afternoon had arrived. It was 12:05. No phone call from his rep or the delivery driver asking if it was ok to show up almost 3 hours ahead of schedule. They just arrived his at office without notice. Three hours early is not acceptable; 15 minutes early is.
Maybe I’m too structured and regimented. Maybe this is the way the world operates and I’m one of the few who didn’t get the memo. Whether you’re competing for a job, vying for a promotion or trying to close a deal with a new client, I’ve found that you can set yourself apart from the rest simply by doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.
- Put tasks in your Google, Apple, Outlook or whatever calendar you have attached to your email.
- Set off-site meeting reminders at least 30 minutes before — longer depending on commute time.
- Set on-site meeting reminders 15 minutes before.
- Thoroughly review your calendar at the beginning of each day so you’ll be aware of what’s on your horizon.
We’re all fallible. I’ve accidentally entered the wrong date for a meeting, but it’s a rarity. Strive to be the kind of person who, if you don’t show up on time, people begin to worry. That practice alone will put you ahead of your competitors.