Profiting At The Bottom Line™

This month’s focal point: Amateur Business Etiquette

Understanding the implications you may be implying, or, the recipient is inferring through written correspondence.
(Anything written in any form electronic or paper is considered to apply here.)

When you are asking, or requiring some form of action to be performed by the recipient. i.e.,

  • You need documentation to fulfill some requirement, a notice of a “can,” or “can not do,” etc.
  • Along with a request for action. i.e., Please do, bring, stop, etc.
  • Followed with a deadline, where if that deadline is breached, you would take some form of punitive action. i.e., You’ll not be allowed to…, You’ll be fined, Your privileges will be revoked, Access denied, Car towed, etc.

Call the recipient first if possible or, make any and all attempts to contact them first before sending or leaving any such notice. i.e., Do not leave or send such a notice for them to open or read by themselves. Regardless of how inconsequential the penalty or circumstance may seem to you. Then…

Never highlight (with a highlighter or bold face) any passages of that correspondence if it is the first request. You only highlight when you want your request for action to have the implied tone of a demand and/or threat. i.e., You’re going to follow with immediate recourse and/or possible penalty if not responded to.

There are times for such notations however – Never should you do such a thing for some trivial matter or simple request. i.e., Needed documentation, or other action that may have been, forgotten, misplaced, overlooked, or not originally understood, etc.

Once you highlight (or use bold face text) in a request that has a deadline – You have turned what you may think of as a simple request and/or reminder ipso facto into a threat. Unless you are trying to instil that message – Never do it without thinking. The ramifications can cost you business or customers and, you may never know the reasons why. (If you do become aware, it will probably result from a confrontation with an angry customer. Or worse – they’ll say nothing and move their business elsewhere.)

Case Study: An owner of a business recently transferred their business from one vendor to another. The business was quite substantial. At first they had some rough moments where the original sales person left and not attended to filing the paperwork correctly. The paperwork had been processed for it was required to be “in hand” to start the transactions. After some searching by the new vendor all the paperwork was accounted for and business went on for a few months unhindered.

Then a new salesperson was put in charge of the account where they must have been told to get familiar with their new assigned clients paperwork. This new person noticed a simple document seemed to be missing and acting on their own used a form letter stating requirements. Highlighting such lines as…

  • It is required for you to have proper insurance.  Then again highlighted the rules per their lease documents (Section X, Line Y, per Z, pursuant to, etc.)  Followed by another highlighted line stating – “They had 4 days to comply.”

Then they hand delivered the note, only to leave it hanging on the businesses door to be found by anyone. (The business had yet to open.)

Calmly this owner walked into their office and stated: “Do you not have a phone contact to reach me first before you leave a demand letter such as this hanging on my door?” There was more but I’ll stop here for the sake of brevity.

The reaction? Condescending, “Sorry you took it that way. It was just a request.” Followed with the unmistakable ticked off attitude that somehow this customer was making a mountain from a molehill.

This is amateurism on full display. Don’t allow yourself to be seen in this light for real professionals will not tolerate it. The issue for many is 80% don’t know they are doing it, while 80% of their recipients don’t know or understand either and say nothing. However, for the 20% that do know or do understand – they will act accordingly. Regardless of what you may see as a trifle matter.

To wit: They were notified on the spot their business was moving elsewhere. With no chance for discussions.

A $2.00 highlighter and a free serving of, “I don’t really see what the big deal is here.” Cost them multiples of that persons annual salary. Too bad such a return on investment is to the negative side rather than positive.

Some people or customers will not put up with amateurs in business. They’re looking for and rewarding professionalism. When they’re looking – let them find it’s you that fits their bill. You’ll find something that makes it all worth it.

Loyalty and repeat business.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Profiting At The Bottom Line™ is a monthly memo, which is pithy, powerful, and to the point. It focuses on innovative techniques and or ideas that you can put to work immediately in your daily or business life.