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Your Next Deadline Can Bring You New Business, or It Can Take It Away - You Choose

Jan 23, 2008
Deadlines are important in the business world. You, as a businessperson, must be strict about deadlines.

Larry thought differently. He was to have 20 manuals printed and binded for 9:30 Monday morning. Larry had a little problem: his binding machine broke down and he was unable to repair it. So Larry thought, "Well, it's not my fault." He tried to get a replacement, but that would take three business days. Larry explained this to the customer when he came in for his materials. The customer was furious. Larry explained, "I tried to get a replacement, but that will take three days. There was nothing I could do. I did what I could. I think you're overreacting."

The customer began to really get upset and raised his voice: "I have people coming down from the head office, and now they won't have any materials to work with. We've been planning this for months. You think it's not a big deal, but it is. My job is on the line. I trusted you! Just give me the originals." And the customer walked out, never to return.

What Larry should have done was to get the job done no matter what. He could have easily gone to a printing shop and completed the job. Customers don't want to hear about your problems. They don't care, not because they're bad people, but because they have their own worries to deal with.

The worst thing Larry did was to wait until the customer arrived. He could have at least called to let the customer know there was a delay or that his machine broke down and he was going to have the manuals done for him elsewhere. You can't take people for granted and say that it's not that important.

There's no excuse. A deadline is a deadline.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when you agree to a deadline:

* If you can, take some extra time for your deadline. If you think you can have the work done by 2 p.m. Thursday, take an extra day in case something goes wrong. Ask for the customer's contact info, in case there's a problem.

* Call the minute you know you have a problem that you can't clear up. Suggest solutions for clearing up the problem, and ask the customer what he would like you to do. Also, take any suggestions the customer has.

* When problems occur, ask yourself, "What's the best way to resolve this?" You may need to go to a competitor to get the job done.

* Never give excuses to customers when there's a problem. It's not their problem that you couldn't stick to the deadline.

* If sticking to your deadline creates issues beyond your control, then make sure you're clear about your agreement to the deadline. For example, you could say, "I can guarantee the job for Friday morning, provided I receive the product from the finishing department on Thursday."

* Always promise that you'll be on time, provided no circumstances beyond your control take place.

* See if you can finish early. Contact the customer to let him know you were able to finish early. That will make him happy.

* Place yourself in the customer's shoes. If you need something and you expect to get it, you don't want excuses.

You want what was promised. Sticking to deadlines is a good promise. It keeps you motivated, it helps you stay organized, and it keeps your customers coming back. It's best to keep your promise. After all, a deadline is simply a promise.

Action Steps Regarding Deadlines

1. Define the time you need, and take some extra time in case of a problem.

2. Make sure everything is clear when you agree to a deadline.

3. Take some extra time to make up for unforeseeable events.

Important Points to Keep In Mind When Dealing With Deadlines

* Deadlines are important in the business world.

* You, as a businessperson, must be strict about deadlines.

* Customers don't want to hear about your problems They have their own to worry about.

* Take some extra time for your deadline.

* Ask for the customer's contact info, in case there's a problem.

* Suggest solutions for clearing up the problem, and ask the customer what he would like you to do.

* If sticking to your deadline has issues beyond your control, then make sure you're clear about your agreement to the deadline.

* Take some extra time to make up for unforeseeable events.
About the Author
Acey Gaspard brings his 20+ years of business experience to A Touch of Business.com http://www.atouchofbusiness.com with well over 1,100 ORIGINAL pages of tips, reviews, and tools to help you market and run your small business. Get Tips you can use today! http://www.atouchofbusiness.com/tips.html
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