I was walking my dog early the other morning when my good friend and neighbor, Lowell, drove by headed towards home. He stopped and rolled his window down to say hello. I asked, “Where are you returning from this early in the morning?” He replied, “I just got back from an 8 AM meeting with a client— who stood me up.” We laughed about it and both of us kind of shrugged as if to say, “These things happen.”
As I thought more about it, I realized that for me, these mix-ups happen much less than they used to and I know why. Here are some tips that will save you time and aggravation by minimizing misunderstandings and missed appointments.
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1. We’re already confirmed.
Often at the end of a conversation plans are made to connect in the future. There may be some uncertainty as to whether the next appointment can be confirmed. If things aren’t made clear right then, don’t be surprised if the person says (after missing the appointment), “Oh I didn’t think we ever confirmed that time.” Here’s the solution—at the end of the conversation, even if there are some loose ends, let them know that unless you hear otherwise, you will consider the appointment confirmed. I often say, “If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll assume we are confirmed and I’ll see you there. No need to call me unless there is a problem, okay?”
2. Send a Reminder.
In my friend’s case, the missed appointment was an honest oversight on the part of his client. She forgot to check her calendar the night before. There is a good way to circumvent this kind of breakdown. The night before a confirmed appointment, send a quick text or e-mail to let them know you are looking forward to seeing them tomorrow at such-and-such time and location.
Note: There are certain instances when sending a reminder is not advised. Such a case is a first time sales appointment. The reminder may give the person an opportunity to cancel. Use common sense here.
3. Send a Map.
Even when appointments are kept, they often don’t start on time because the person has a hard time finding the meeting location the first time. While most of us have GPS navigation systems in our cars or smart phones, it’s a good idea to send a text or e-mail with a link to the upcoming meeting location from Google maps (http://maps.google.com).
4. Send a Picture.
When I meet someone in person for the first time, I include my picture as part of my signature on my e-mail so they can recognize me quickly. It avoids having either of us wondering if this next person walking into the restaurant is my/their lunch partner.
Try these ideas even though they might seem like overkill. They will save you and your client a tremendous amount of time, energy and embarrassment and allow you to start your meeting off right.
Please leave a comment below with any ideas or experiences you’ve had in making and keeping appointments.