This past Friday I ran into an one of our office space tenants while in the kitchen getting complimentary coffee at Telsec Business Centres. She was visibly upset. Upon asking her the problem, she told me that a salesman from a potential new vendor was an hour late – and the particular meeting room she had booked was not available for another hour. Her problem was not with the business centre, but with the guy who showed up late and did not call. Had he called to say he was going to be late, she would have immediately re-booked the particular meeting room she wanted for a later time.
As a small business owner, it is extremely unprofessional to be late for a business meeting – even if you are the customer. Not informing the person you are meeting with that you are running late might not just cost you a great deal in dollars and cents, but it demonstrates that you are rude and inconsiderate of the other person’s time. This is especially true if multiple people are going to be affected.
If you are are a small business that is trying to make a sale or satisfy the needs of a customer, be sure to plan your schedule so that you are never late for a meeting. Schedule your day so that you have plenty of time between meetings or tasks to account for the possibility of that any single meeting may take longer than you expect. Anticipating these problems will keep you on schedule.
Better still, make it a plan to arrive early to a meeting. This not only makes you look more organized and professional, but it also gives you a chance to review your prepared notes and collect your thoughts. Being early to a meeting also allows you to set up and test any computer-aided visuals or demonstrations. The last thing you need to find out at the beginning of a meeting or presentation is that there are problems with a file or a presentation device.
Have a back up plan, just in case you must be late for a meeting or have to miss it. Have a “Plan B” to offer the people you are to meet with. Being able to offer an alternative solution demonstrates that you have a contingency plan. Sometimes even letting the person you are meeting with know your contingency plan while setting up the meeting time and date, shows them that you are dedicated and have flexibility and foresight.
Remember, as a small business owner when you are late for a meeting it could not only cost you a customer, but it will also affect your reputation. In many instances, these important meetings are often be about supplier issues. While most companies will not talk about that “great vendor” they want to keep for themselves, they are often more than willing to talk about the “bad news vendor” who shows up late for meetings – or even worse, ones who never seem to deliver on time.