So, you’ve probably been swearing to yourself for the past half hour, wondering “where the f*** are they?”. I mean, they sounded so keen for the call? Right? Well, I’m here to tell you that this stuff happens – a lot. It’s just part of running a business. That being said though, there are certain things you can do to avoid such events happening in the future.
The first thing you should do, when a (potential) client doesn’t show up to a meeting or consultation, is calm yourself down. Understand that there could be a million different reasons for their absence and that jumping to conclusions isn’t going to help anybody. If you need to go meditate, vent to someone or scream into a pillow – then go for it.
Following that, you’re going to need to reach out to the client and explain your end of the story. In doing so, you’ve got to put all emotion to one side and deal with the situation in a professional manner. After all, you don’t want to sound like some butthurt guy that got stood up on a date.
How long should you wait for them to show up?
Perhaps you’re wondering though how long you should wait when a client doesn’t show up? I mean, you can’t just cut the call short after 5 minutes. In my own experience, I’ve often waited for 75-100% of the duration of the call, usually just sitting on my phone, scrolling through emails, sending DM’s etc.
Basically, I’m getting work done whilst I’m waiting. Of course, I’d like for the client to turn up on time – if at all, but in the event that they’re late, I get other things done during that time. This also helps to keep me calm as I’d be seriously angry if I wasted a whole hour when I’ve got important things to be doing.
What to say when a client doesn’t show up
One mistake that I see many people make is that they start getting passive-aggressive when a client doesn’t show up, scolding them with comments like “I wasted a whole hour waiting for you”. This is just a big no-no. As mentioned earlier in this post, you have no idea why they didn’t show up, so don’t take it personally.
Instead, I would provide a basic outline of how you tried to contact them earlier and summarize what you wanted to cover in the meeting. Following that, you can also propose another call and ask them what time/day is best for them.
Something as simple as this will 1) outline that you were at the call, 2) bring them up to speed with what your initial plan was, and 3) show them that you are still open to working with them. It accomplishes all this without guilt-tripping them or scaring them off.
If anything, this professional approach will show them that you’re the right person for the job, as many others will have crumbled at this very step.
When they miss back-to-back meetings
I see many blogs and authors suggesting that three is the magic number of failed appointments before you can call an end to negotiations, however, I think it really depends on what your current work situation is like.
Clearly, if you’re stacked for work and are in no rush for new clients then I may even suggest calling it a day after the second successive absence. I wouldn’t even entertain the third meeting – unless they were paying for it (more on that later).
That being said, if this could potentially be a big client for you and you’re already struggling for work as is then yea, I would bite my tongue and give them the benefit of the doubt [for the second or third meeting].
Taking everything into consideration though, you want to start placing more value on your time and not folding to everyone else’s demands. Have more respect for yourself and your (potential) clients will soon respect you too.
How to avoid being stood up on a business call
Even though you now know how to compose yourself when a client doesn’t show up, it will definitely help to learn how to avoid the situation in the first place. In this section, I will be outlining a number of ways you can limit this frustrating situation.
Charge for consultations
This is a measure that you could implement to ensure that you separate the real interested parties from the bullsh**ers. If you’ve ever been to visit your local Dentist or Doctor then you’d know that this system works too.
The thing with charging for consultations though is that you need to have enough credibility and demand for your services in order for it to work, otherwise you’ll risk waiting forever for someone to book a call with you.
Send a reminder ahead of time
Sticking with the medical examples above, my first thought is that of my dentist, who has an automated service which reminds me of my upcoming dental appointment(s). This is done via text but you can also do so via email, phone call or app notifications. It’s entirely up to you.
The point is though that it can be really helpful to give the client a reminder of the upcoming call, maybe a day or two ahead of the scheduled time, just to refresh their memory as well as give them an ‘easy out’ if they had since made alternative plans.
Demonstrate your value
If you had a call booked with Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk or Oprah, do you think that you’d miss it? Probably not, right?
Well, that’s because you know that an opportunity like this doesn’t come around every day and that you’re likely to get a ridiculous amount of value from the call itself – or at least from the product or service that they offer you following that call.
That in itself is the status you need to build for yourself both personally and as a business. In doing so, people will recognise the value of turning up to your calls and wouldn’t dare turn up late or miss it entirely.
Now I don’t expect everyone (or anyone) reading this to be of the same calibre of the names mentioned above, so how do you acquire this high-value status? Well, social proof certainly helps.
In a nutshell, you want to consistently share proof of positive feedback from your clients, associates, followers and more. The more you can get people shouting your praises for you – the better.
Not only can do this with testimonials, ratings, social media shoutouts, and ye old’ word of mouth, but you can also demonstrate your worth with high-end branding. After all, there’s a reason why good-looking food seems to taste better!
Introduce late fees
Nothing says “Don’t be late” quite like a Late Fee does. For anyone that chooses to turn up over 10-15 minutes late, without forewarning, will receive a financial penalty for doing so. For instance, you might want to add a 15% increase (on the initial fee) for anyone that turns up 15 minutes late. 30% for 30 minutes and so on.
If you do like the client though and want to give them a second chance, then perhaps you can advise them that usually there is a fee for lateness and no-shows and that on this occasion you are willing to waive it. Going forward though, there will be a late fee in place.
What to do when a client is always late to business calls
If a client of yours is consistently turning up late to your calls or is even missing them entirely, then it is probably something that will need to be addressed – albeit professionally. I for one would drop the client an email asking them if there’s anything that I could be doing to ensure that we’re working more effectively going forward.
This could be as simple as changing the times of the call or using a different form of communication entirely.
With that in mind though, if they continue to turn up late or leave you hanging then I would mention something along the lines of…
“Hello [Name], I can’t help but notice that we’re somewhat out of sync when it comes to these meeting times. I work on a very busy schedule and as such, place a lot of value on how I spend my time. I’m still keen for us to work together though which is why I would like to find a way to ensure that we’re not wasting each other’s time. I hope you understand”
Just know that if you do send a message like that, you do risk losing the client. So only use it as a last line of defence and preferably only when you’re indifferent to losing them. In other cases though, the client may actually end up respecting you a whole lot more. It really is just a flip of the coin.
Above all, you want to remain professional at all times when a client doesn’t show up to a call or is late. You need to remove all emotion out of the equation and understand that there could be millions of reasons for their absence.
For first-timers, I suggest emailing the client and providing a summary of the points you wanted to cover in the meeting, as well as rescheduling for another meeting. This approach is usually enough to settle the situation.
That aside though, a lot can be done prior to any call to ensure that they do turn up on time – every time.
If all else fails, buy them a watch!