The other day I walked past a freshly paved driveway in my neighborhood and took down the number on the sign sitting next to it. When I called the number, a man picked up on the third ring, and I explained I would like a quote for my driveway and that I had gotten his number from a driveway that had just been completed so beautifully.
He said he could come out next Wednesday at noon and measure everything to get me a quote. I had been planning to go into the office on that day, but with the current flexibility available, I changed my plans and figured I would work from home so I could meet this gentleman at 12 noon as discussed and agreed.
Wednesday at noon came and went and nobody showed up. At 1pm, I called the same number and nobody answered. I left a message explaining that I was expecting a visit and quote at noon, and asking if we were still on. Hearing nothing back, I called again at 3:30 and this time he picked up. He went on to explain that they had a problem with their truck breaking down and therefore couldn’t make the scheduled appointment. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and we rescheduled for the next day. He showed up an hour later than we had agreed, and although I was a little annoyed, I decided to have him measure everything and discuss some of the paving process. As he left, he said he would text me the quote within the next hour. As you can guess, I didn’t get the quote. Hours turned into days and days turned into weeks. Eventually, after more excuses and broken promises, I finally got the quote. By that time though, why would I ever consider using this person for the job – no matter the quality I had seen on my neighbor’s driveway. I could no longer trust this person.
I had no trust that anything he said would actually come to fruition, or even if it did, there would be more of the same wasted time, delays and false promises. The process, no matter how nice the end product, would not be worth it. As a small business owner, I truly understand dealing with the unexpected and I wanted to give this fella the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, once trust is broken, it is very difficult to repair.
The single easiest way to ruin a sales lead or more importantly, a relationship, is lack of communication and follow through. At Tamman, I have worked hard to incorporate one simple rule:
Do what you say.
To establish trust and clear the road for collaboration and sales down the road, and most importantly, create relationships, do what you say you will do. Sounds simple, right? But it may not be so easy in the hustle and bustle of daily life. It is certainly not because we don’t want to follow up with someone and aim not to be trusted. It’s just that we are human, and given the amount of distractions and competing priorities we all have, it is possible to fail to keep our commitments. This is precisely why, in today’s distraction economy, if you want to stand out, to build trust quickly, it is vital to do what you say.
First impressions are so powerful. It is imperative that committing to an action – an initial call, task or project, etc., must be fulfilled. If it runs into the unexpected, as can happen, communicate, re-commit and fulfill that commitment. It harkens back to days gone by, but like it’s cousin, The Golden Rule, it’s (or something that agrees with the singular, instead of ‘some/are’) timeless. Do what you say.
In The Speed of Trust, author Stephen Covey outlines the central point that trust increases business speed. It removes many of the bureaucratic checks and balances that must normally be maintained for operational security. “Trustful relationships allow business to proceed more smoothly and quickly.” Speed to market equals business advantage. Pulling out to an even more macro level, economist Fancis Fukuyama in his 1995 seminal work, Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity, writes that trust is the most important factor to a strong and thriving economy. More important than material capital, he asserts that developing trust builds social capital between individuals, allowing for stronger, smoother interactions without the need for government or outside interference to validate and, of course, slow things down. The business advantages are clear when you just do what you say.
At Tamman, my partner and I have built Tamman with a person-first focus – whether that is the potential client sitting across from me, the employee who needs a little flexibility, or the end-user of an accessible build – we’ve made a focus on people our competitive advantage. Trust is our primary currency. There is nothing more powerful or rewarding to me than hearing somebody say, ‘I really trust them.’ The way we get there? You guessed it, just do what you say.