To Show, Or No Show?

First thing Monday morning I called the Bemidji RV service store hoping to secure an appointment for my malfunctioning fridge.  The man on the phone said they were backed up two weeks.

“But…but….all my food will go bad!”

“Can you get here right away? Maybe we can sneak you in.”

“Oh, thank you!  I am about 40 miles away.  I’ll leave right now!”

After spending over two stressful hours trying to maneuver the Toy Hauler around the shed and through the narrow curved “driveway” out onto the narrow tar road, I finally made it to the RV dealer. It was almost noon and the place was packed.  Surely they thought I stood them up.  They had no idea what a nightmare this newbie went through to get there.  But they didn’t question, or turn me away.  They smiled, welcomed me, and serviced my rig.  It got me to thinking about a LinkedIn comment someone posted, clearly in response to an incident he’d experienced.

“Have you ever been stood up for a meeting that was secured in advance and confirmed shortly before?  What about after traveling a great distance to get there?  How did you handle it?”

Unfortunately, yes I have driven the distance for a no-show, (have been cancelled on, underpaid, not paid, not called back and have been generally disrespected) a time or two over the years.  Ah, the feeling of deflation to arrive to the front desk, state your name, company and who you are there to see, only to be told, “I’m sorry, but John’s not in today, he took the day off.”

He decided this overnight?  After we confirmed via email yesterday?  And he couldn’t let me know?  When I drove 3 hours to get here?

How positively infuriating!  How rude!  How dare he? Gawd, what’s wrong with me that he’d do that?

As important as we think we are, not everything is about us.  Not everything that happens is because of us.  Most things that happen to us have nothing directly to do with us, and would happen with or without us.  We just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time.  There are many others in the same boat with you.  If you were to stop and ask 10 strangers on the street the same question, seven of them or more would have similar stories.

Don’t take it personal when the bad thing happens to you.

The malevolent people in the world would pick on you, your neighbor, the other guy or whoever was closest at the time exactly the same way.  And the truth is, the poor sorry sack of stuff who simply didn’t show, will never experience the kind of joy in life that people experience when they live a respectful, authentic life.  How could they?

So, first and foremost, consider the source, knowing what goes around comes around.

But of course, not everyone blows off meetings for the sheer fun of it.   How do you tell the difference? We can control our own behavior.  We cannot control others.  The good news is, though, we can control how we respond to theirs. It is so important to take a breath, and reserve judgment until you have enough information.

You don’t know the other guys story.  Maybe he was raised without being taught about respecting others, and he stands up everyone without giving it a second thought.  Or maybe he stood you up because his house just burned down and he lost the dog and the wife skipped town with the kids while he was being diagnosed with a horrible kidney disease.  Either way, it has nothing to do with you.  You are simply the nameless, faceless, receiver.  His main concern is not you, how far you drove, how long you planned, what you gave up to give time to him, or any of it. You are, actually, somewhat irrelevant to his situation.

Still, you want to feel whole.  You want to feel like you matter.  “Awkward” doesn’t even begin to describe how difficult it can be to request an explanation from a stranger who dissed you. But with a little effort, you can determine if your No Show was an insensitive act, or an unavoidable incident.

The Genuine Situation—you immediately know circumstances were beyond their control when they proactively reach out to you, and openly, fully express remorse about missing the appointment, asking for forgiveness and a reschedule.  Usually.  Almost always.  Unless the person is a true “player”.  But we don’t want to go there, right?  People are basically good….keep repeating it….people are basically good…

They wanted to meet with you.  They perceive you as having something of value.  Perhaps they confused their schedule and didn’t realize “today was our meeting!” until your call or email after the fact.  Either way, you will be provided an honest, valid reasoning why they didn’t show up.

The Unintentional Game Player—this person may have tried to reach you, long after you headed out to see them, but it’s a 50/50 at best.  The issue is they don’t perceive you as part of their day-to-day, even if they do think you have something of value, so you are not necessarily on their radar to communicate with when plans change.  Or maybe they scheduled the meeting because they are “expected” to, and then use other circumstances as an excuse to not show. “Oh, was that today?  Oh well, something came up.” They are pulled in many directions. Consequently, they are not open to sharing details, or circumstances behind why they didn’t show.  It’s not a big deal to them. They don’t consciously recognize the effort involved for you to get to them. They will likely not offer an explanation, but make assumptions like “well, Jane can stop in any time when she is coming through town.”

As though you are routinely coming through John’s town.  Ha!

The Intentional Player—sometimes known as the “bigger than life” personality.  The world revolves around them. They answer to no one.  You are just another vendor, basically an annoyance, and underserving of their time, courtesy or respect.  A rare few may actually schedule appointments simply to look like they have them.  If something else comes up, they’ll disregard your appointment without a second thought—it was probably never on their books.  Maybe they enjoy toying with vendors to see how bad they want the business. If you should happen to arrive late, they will “not be available”, regardless of how hard it was to get there, and not make use of the limited time you do have remaining. They never had any intention of keeping your meeting.  They will not offer an explanation for their No Show—and if they do give one, it will likely not be particularly truthful.

 

With the amazing technology we have today, there really is no excuse for a No Show from either party.  Granted there are always exceptions.  But if you do experience a No Show, here are some things you can do to feel whole and move on.  First off,

Let it go, and know it’s not about you.

Trust your gut.  From what you feel, do you think the person is a player or not?

Decide how bad you want that business.

You will have to reach out to them.  When you do so, leave a message but also get it in writing:

  • Make it clear you were there for the agreed upon meeting:

Dear John,

When I arrived to your offices on Monday July 7th at 8:00 am I was disappointed to learn you were not available for our meeting.  The receptionist at the front desk could not offer any explanation.

Besides being “documentation”, this calls out who you are, and that you were indeed there, in case John really is being inundated with meetings and lost sight of yours in the process.  If something has happened to John, whoever is checking his messages will see your email.

  • Express genuine concern at their absence

Because this has never happened before, frankly I am concerned for you.  Is everything okay?  What happened?  I hope nothing serious.

Although it’s awkward to reach out to strangers, you don’t actually know at this point if you’ve been played or not. Being genuinely concerned is never something to be embarrassed or ashamed about—we are all human, and this gesture could soften even a player’s heart…..or at least get you a response from his gatekeeper.

  • Mention any names that will trigger them to recall the meetings importance

As a courtesy, I have let Bill and Lisa know that we have not been able to meet, so they can adjust their schedules accordingly, as well as work with your back office team on how to move forward until we can meet.

If other people are involved as part of the reason for your meeting, this will bring top of mind awareness that you’re not the only one they left hanging, and perhaps your meeting should be moved higher up on the importance scale.

  • Provide an alternative plan

Currently, the next time I will be in your area is the week of   xxxxxxxx.  I would be happy to reschedule an appointment with you during that time. 

For now, don’t put all your eggs in this basket. If possible, only offer to reschedule several weeks out, and at YOUR convenience, and only if you have additional business to conduct or reasons to be in the area. This will show you aren’t instantly available and waiting to be duped again, as well as prevent spending another wasted day on the road. Once you are able to determine if there is real interest to keep the meeting, you can decide if it warrants a more immediate response.

  • Leave the ball in their court

Assuming you are still interested in pursuing the best solution for “widget companies”, I look forward to hearing back from you shortly with suggestions for rescheduling our meeting.

Again, I do hope all is well with you and yours.

This gently questions their initial intent, and closes with a lingering sentiment of care for their wellbeing. If the relationship was meant to be, you should be getting a call or email back.  If you hear nothing back, you may want to re-evaluate how bad you want to do business with this person, or company for that matter.

Thank goodness No Shows are the exception, and not the rule.

On my wall hangs a simple mantra:  “Life is Good.  Business is Great.  People are Terrific.  And Don’t You Forget It!”

Need help with your teams’ ability to set, keep and close appointments?  Contact PR Brady AdVentures for a custom program designed to meet your company’s needs.

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