Many of us have probably set an appointment to meet with someone to learn about something we were interested in finding out more about and possibly purchasing – a new car, boat, real estate, an investment, insurance, artwork, collectibles, or other opportunities where we needed to set a specific time to meet with the sales representative or owner rather than just walk into their showroom, office, or place of business. Sometimes the appointment was at their location, sometimes it was at our home or office, and sometimes it was at a neutral venue such as a restaurant or coffee shop.
Nevertheless, once we agreed to the appointment (regardless of who initiated the contact or requested the meeting) – which was voluntary on our part (we weren’t forced to meet with the representative) – we began looking forward to what we might hear, learn, or be shown and to anticipate how we might use the product or service that we were going to be discussing.
No wonder we felt a huge letdown when that salesperson or the owner we were to meet with called or emailed to cancel the appointment (or had their assistant do this for them) – or worse they didn’t show up and didn’t bother to communicate with us to let us know that they were not honoring their appointment, to express their apologies and convey why they weren’t coming, or to attempt to reschedule to another time. It’s as if we were not important to them.
It’s likely that we never did meet with that person and that we went elsewhere to learn about that product or service (or something similar) or we just moved on in a different direction. Regardless, our opinion of this person and the product or service they represented was damaged.
Now, let’s apply this same scenario to us and how we work with our aging in place clients. Once we establish the initial contact and set the appointment to meet with them – regardless of how we originally met them and the substance of that first conversation – we must honor it if we hope to earn their business. Only the most unavoidable delay should keep us from meeting with them at the appointed time (a sudden onset illness or a problem with our vehicle, for instance) and then we would call them to express our sincere apology for not meeting them as scheduled and hope that they were agreeable to still meeting with us and rescheduling it for a later time.
Appointments should not be taken lightly, but unfortunately, they often are. They are not merely a suggestion or a tentative agreement that we want to meet with them but a specific verbal contract that needs to be honored. They are pledging their time to meet with us, as are we agreeing to block out the necessary time to meet with them.
If we fail to honor our appointment by keeping it or at least explaining (and apologizing) for why it needs to change or why we have been delayed, we have weakened – and possibly destroyed – our credibility to ultimately work with them. Our clients are wanting to trust us and find a reason to believe that we can help them, and keeping our appointment is the first positive step in this direction. Not keeping it goes strongly the other way, possibly creating irreparable harm to our relationship.
While it’s possible that the client can forget the appointment, that’s different than our forgetting or dishonoring it. They might not be at home when we arrive or call to confirm our arrival time (having been delayed in returning home or forgetting that we were coming), they might not answer their phone (leaving us to wonder if they are home or if they remembered we were coming), or they may have forgotten we were coming until we arrive and aren’t ready to receive us or meet with us when we arrive. As frustrating or irritating as any of that might be for us, it is completely different than us not honoring our appointment with them unless they changed their mind and have decided not to do business with us and didn’t want to face us. Otherwise, the onus is on us for honoring the appointment and getting the relationship off to a strong start.
We need to establish our credibility with our clients in order to have them believe in us and trust us. Otherwise, it’s going to very difficult to make recommendations that they will accept so that we can help them. Keeping our appointments, honoring our commitments, and doing what we tell them should help to further our relationship and help us earn their business.