A Lesson on Priorities from Mark

One of my clients had scheduled two hours of “building his business” time for 5-7 Tuesday evening. At 10:30 Tuesday morning, he informed me that he wouldn’t be able to build his business because a client called. AHHH! This is the conflict that we face every day. Do we “selfishly” build our business or do we take the opportunity to be billable, service our client and earn our client’s “undying” gratitude?

I was reminded of this story. When my son, Mark, was in college, my wife and I attended a parents’ night. At dinner, one of my son’s fraternity brother’s was talking with my wife and told her that Mark’s #1 priority was to party! He went on to explain that if one of Mark’s friends invited Mark to party and Mark had an exam the next morning, Mark would party, knowing that when he was done partying, he would have to study all night to be ready for the exam because although he loved to party, he knew why he was at college. I can tell you that Mark still loves to party. I can also tell you that I am very proud of how well he did in college and continues to do today. I suggest that he is proof positive that you can keep your clients happy while tending to your business.

So, if it works for Mark, why can’t it work for us. If Mark can recognize that his party friend/clients are only part of his college experience. Why can’t we recognize that one client is only part of our business? Why can’t we figure a way to do it all? Figure out what has to be done and what the cost of the missed opportunity will be. This is what I would have done. My client needs me today. I’m scheduled to work on my business from 5-7 and I can’t do that any other time. I tell my client that I’m booked solid until 7 and ask if they want me to come at 7, or if they want to wait until Friday morning. If they want me at 7, I have a long day and a very appreciative client. If they want me Friday, OK, but they will remember and appreciate that I offered to come at 7.

We don’t have to be at our clients’ beck and call to make them happy. We have to keep our promises. We have to do what we say we’ll do. We don’t have to drop what we’re doing to answer the phone. Drive to their office. Neglect other clients. If we’re like this with 5-6 clients, what will happen when we have 500-600 clients that want us NOW? If we don’t build our business, we won’t stay in business. Then, how much good will we be to our other clients or more importantly, our spouse, children, employees?

As an aside, we cause this “drop what you’re doing” attitude in clients. We as the provider don’t fully explain how we will service our clients. We also don’t fully use our knowledge of the industry to save ourselves time. In this particular case, my client’s client was “out of business” while they were waiting for a part to arrive. Should my client have anticipated the arrival date and penciled in the installation for first thing Wednesday? If it doesn’t arrive, he can move something scheduled for Thursday to Wednesday and do the installation on Thursday. Better planning might have been able to get everything done rather than miss an opportunity to build your business that is lost forever.

OK, so let’s hear from you. What are your priorities? How do you resolve the conflict between being available to clients and taking care of your business?


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