As I sat at a gymnastic meet watching the girls bounce from one event to another, I thought about how life is much like a gymnastic meet. We practice almost daily to prepare for the big day. So much hard work goes into our performance. Suddenly, it’s our turn to shine, and we have 1 or 2 minutes to show the judges what we can do. Hours and hours of preparation for a 1-2 minute performance that will determine whether or not we place in the top 3. How prepared are you?
Do you follow a routine to prepare for your day or do you “fly by the seat of your pants?” I tend to follow a routine. When I go to bed at night, I know what appointments I have the following day, where I am supposed to be and what time I need to arrive, and I have my things packed and ready to go. I have difficulty sleeping, so anything I can do to lessen my worry about tomorrow helps me to be able to close my eyes and relax.
“It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not to be prepared.” Whitney M. Young
From early in childhood, we are taught to “be prepared.” We learn at an early age to do our homework at night, so we are prepared for the following day. As we grow and become active in groups such as Scouting, we are taught to “be prepared.” If we play an instrument, we know to practice every day so that we can “be prepared” for our contests and concerts. When we participate in a sport, we spend hours practicing before the “big game.” Why should running a business be any different?
This week, I would like to why being prepared will help you get ahead of your competition in the workplace.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Alexander Graham Bell
Know Your Industry
It is important to be knowledgeable in your field. I can tell within a couple of sentences if a person knows what they are talking about or if they are trying to “fake it until they make it.” Speak to experts in your field, read articles, and take webinars and classes. Stay up to date on the latest developments so you can share that information with your clients.
Know Your Schedule
You have to know where you are supposed to be and why. Allow enough travel time between appointments. Nothing is more frustrating that to walk into a meeting 5 minutes late because of a traffic issue. Running late elevates your stress and starts your meeting off on the wrong foot. It also subliminally tells your client that your time is more valuable than theirs. Early in my career, someone said to me that arriving on time meant you were 5 minutes late. Therefore, I try to be 5-10 minutes early for every appointment.
Know Your Client
If this is a first-time appointment, do your homework. Research them on social media. Learn what makes them who they are. Bring along information that you think may be relevant to your discussion. Let your client know that you’ve done your homework. Anticipate what they will want from you. Be prepared to deliver more than they expect.
“Confidence comes from being prepared.” John Wooden
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Do not be afraid to be honest with a client. If their needs surpass what you can offer, tell them. Most of the business owners I know will go above and beyond to meet their customer needs and to make a good impression. That will work unless what your client wants is above what you can do for them. If you aren’t honest, you could end up losing some sleep worrying about how to satisfy your client and in the end, it may cost you the business.
Always, Always, Always Say Thank You
Competition is great. There are several others wanting the business you receive from your clients. Make sure you show each of your customers how much their business means to you. A hand-written thank you note, and a small token of thanks will make you stand out from your competition. Depending on the amount of business you do with a client, planning a morning to drop off donuts or bagels for the staff or planning a luncheon will show your client that you appreciate their business.
My challenge to you this week is the following:
Are you prepared for your day? Do you know where you are supposed to be and why? Do you have the materials you need for each appointment? Have you scheduled enough travel time between appointments or will you run into your client’s office a few minutes late and stressed out because you hit one too many traffic lights?
Get into the habit of preparing for your day. Before you leave your office at the end of the day, know what is in store for you tomorrow. Gather the items you will need. Research the new client, so you have an idea of the type of business they do. Be Prepared. Be on time. Be ready to make each day better than the day before.
Have a fabulous week!
I own a promotional products business where I offer over 1 million different products to meet your promotional needs. I also have a complete wedding line including “save the dates,” invitations, napkins, imprinted stemware, and attendants gifts. I’d love to schedule an appointment with you to see how I can help you with your promotional needs!