During our first business, there were times when Gary and I hit financial walls and had to pay our creditors late.
I had a person who was handling our payables at the time and, he was so flustered by the dozens and dozens of calls from vendors demanding past due amounts owed, he put them all through to his voice mail to avoid the calls. He would then proceed to conveniently call them back after six in the evening when he knew they had left for the evening and would not pick up the phone.
The situation got progressively worse as the vendors knew his game and were more aggravated than ever. At the time, I had no idea that such an escapade was going on, as he told me that he returned everyone’s phone calls everyday (although he failed to mention to me he called after he knew they were gone for the day!)
By the time I realized what was going on, our company was already in extreme jeopardy, as we would surely be helpless if we stopped receiving shipments from our suppliers. I took over his responsibility and jumped in my car and literally drove to every single supplier to talk with whoever was in charge. After a full week of visits, I came back with great news. Not only did I get the dogs off my back, I received extended dating on the current bills until we were cash heavy again. Furthermore, I actually received extended dating on all future orders and higher credit lines as well!
Never ever hide behind a phone. There have been many other times in my entrepreneurial journey that I have hidden behind a phone. I owed creditors money, I hid from customers or angry buyers who I was afraid would yell at me because I shipped their orders late, I would hide from people I had interviewed for sales or design positions and not hired as I couldn’t come to tell them I was not hiring them. You name it I hid like a mouse being chased by a giant cat… Until I made a decision to change.
What happens when you hide behind a phone and not make yourself available is that you make the situation infinitely worse the longer and longer you hide. It is very much like a disease. If caught early, you can nip it in the bud. The longer you fail to take care of things, the more the disease fills your body until eventually it is completely out of control and you die. I use such an extreme example only because I feel so strongly that people learn from this common mistake that so many entrepreneurs make (which explains why I have dedicated an entire post about it)!
Face The Music
Whoever you are hiding from, take some initiative and pick up the phone and call them. If the phone call does not go well, visit them in person as often times that mere gesture of meeting the person face-to-face will do the trick. Also, people speak very differently when you are in front of them compared to being separated by a phone. People tend to be a whole lot tougher on the phone. Facing people and problems head on is the best way to leave a lasting impression that you will never run from adversity.
Reversing The Outcome In Your Favor
In this situation, by taking the time out to see these people in person, I gained a respect from my suppliers and creditors that I would have never received any other way. Furthermore, by jumping in my car and going to see them, I completely destroyed their previous feelings that they were “chasing” our company to collect a debt. Instead, I made it so convenient for them that they had no choice but to work through the issues at hand.
I can probably tell you a hundred other stories like the one above. I have even put out fires simply by showing my face and not even saying a word. By giving your vendor or supplier the “touchability” factor, they feel much more comfortable to do business with you. It gives them the feeling that you’re local and are not leaving town in the near future.
To Sum Things Up…
If you find yourself avoiding a situation that you know would better off be handled in person, don’t hesitate, jump in your car and do what you have to do. When you start a business it’s like getting married. You have to be with your business through the good and the bad, no matter what. If you only show your face during the sunny days, you’re no entrepreneur…that I can assure you. And don’t have anyone fight your battles for you. The true entrepreneur goes in the trenches and fights his or her own battles no matter how bleak the outcome may appear to be.
This especially goes for customers that you disappoint, whether it be from a late delivery or the product or service is not of the caliber you have promised. They become far more upset when you fail to apologize, and far more forgiving when you do. Having the humility to swallow your ego and admit you are wrong will play a major role in the success of your business (and your life). If you are honest and forthcoming with your mistake, odds are they will come back to you. If you hide, I guarantee you will never get any business from them again.
The following is an excerpt from How To Ruin A Business Without Really Trying… To receive complimentary chapters, sign up at the top right of the page to get a download link. For more information about the book, Click Here