Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Professional Promise

About a week and a bit ago, I wrote about promises, both keeping and breaking them, and while I can't say it was a successful post, it touched on something I wanted to talk about for a long time. Accountability and reality. Yes, we should try to keep our promises, but sometimes 'shit happens'. The thing is, when I set out to write about pinkie swears and crossing hearts and hoping to die, I knew it was going to get wordy and I would most likely need to break what I had to say up into segments. Consider this the 'promise' special of which there are two parts, this being the second.

While I certainly care about individual promises, it is the professional ones that really cause me concern, and were actually what I originally intended to write about. See, that's the funny thing about my brain, you (and I) never know where it is going to take you (and me). So, what do I have to say about professional promises? Well, gather in and pay close attention. Or don't, that's fine too.

The thing about the 'shit happens' philosophy is that it can be used with personal promises. This is because we can grant a certain amount of leeway to the people we love and, more importantly, we usually aren't paying our friends and siblings (hopefully!). These relationships often allow for a more sympathetic understanding and forgiveness is granted. When it comes to professional promises there is no room for 'shit happens' scenarios. Or, more aptly, if shit does happen, you have to deal with it in an appropriate way - there should be no coy shrugging and lame excuses.

When money is being exchanged for goods and services, a little sincerity is necessary, and repeat defaults on your word unacceptable. Yes, these business promises are less vocal. When you put money down for a pair of snowboarding boots at the ski hut, the owners don't say, "Thank you for your money, we promise not to sell your boots." While the promise is unspoken, it most certainly is there. This is when accountability comes into play. If you are a business owner and book a client in for an appointment, or have them put money down on an expensive item, you are making a promise. You are telling this client you are taking them seriously and their patronage is important to you.  

When you cancel, don't show up, or even arrive late, you are breaking that promise. You're basically throwing your steaming hot coffee you just had to stop for in their face. 

Now, let's say this client made a prepayment, or left their credit card for an accommodation, appointment, or ticket to an event. They understand the weight of the promise. They've left you money, that they earned, from working a job, that they probably hate! As customers, we know if we cancel at the last minute or simply not show up, our money will be taken, our deposits forfeited, our appointments cancelled, and credit cards charged. We understand the value of time and, in a show of good faith, we leave something, as if to say, 'Hey, I want you to keep these dollar dollar bills y'all, just to show I am not going to screw you around." 

Because that's why you leave a deposit, isn't it? Because a pinkie swear isn't going to cut it. In this day and age, business owners know good faith doesn't pay the bills, so they ensure their clients are held accountable. Hence, the deposit, or the keeping of a credit card number, or pre-authorized payment. So, what happens when it's the business owner screwing over the client? What can the client do? 

The options are limited. You can go somewhere else. Complain to the jerks who dicked you around. Demand your money back. Write a bad review. Pout a little. Or all of the above. In my opinion, owners and managers need to be held accountable, just like the little grunt workers are. If we are spending our hard earned cash money on a service or product, then we deserve to be treated fairly and actually considered. 

To be honest, I am sick and tried of the flippant, nonchalant attitude so many business owners and managers have towards their customers. These people are paying your rent and bills, they are putting food in your belly, keeping a roof over your head and your car running. Breaking professional promises should be taken seriously. It shouldn't be a weekly thing, or even a bi-weekly for that matter. Hold yourself to the same standards you expect and demand from your customers.

Don't mistake what I am saying here. I understand people get sick and unfortunate things happen, like deaths and weddings, and there are sometimes no way around cancellations. If this is the case, apologies are the first step, swiftly proceeded by doing whatever it is in your power to correct the wrong.

The point is, we've all been there. We've all been treated like we don't matter. Been put off by a business because of poor services or unreliable products. It doesn't feel good. It's aggravating. Those professional promises are important. You might not openly say, "I promise" but it's implied and when you break them there are repercussions. It might be a lost customer, a withdrawn deposit, or bad word of mouth. If you are shrugging and saying, "Who cares?" then managing isn't for you because you don't understand the importance of a customer.

I am tried of living in a world where the client comes second. If I have to put a credit card down for a massage or pedicure, and get charged if I bail on the appointment, then how is the owner accountable when they are running an hour behind and force me to miss my appointment? Is my next manicure on them because they messed up? Will they pay me the service amount? Hell no!

I guess all I am trying to say is I wish there was a little bit more respect, but I guess good work ethic is hard to come by these days. And some tea and cake would be nice too. Served on a silver platter.

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