Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Rare Occurrence yesterday: I got blown off by a client.

I'd say I get stood up – as I define that term - about three, maybe four times a year. "Being stood up" means: I'm there at my studio, I'm dressed and ready, and he doesn't show.

My "stood up" rate is so low for several reasons. Number one, it's new clients who are, by far, the biggest no-show risk. I'm at a point in my career where I see perhaps one new person a week- the rest of my appointments are guys I know.

Everyone who is seeing me for the first time always has to confirm with me the morning of the appointment. Now, I do very occasionally get new clients who confirm in the morning and then don't show, but that's quite rare. So I generally know hours ahead of time if a new person has gotten cold feet. I don't like people making appointments and then not keeping them, but with this system at least I'm not there waiting and there's a chance I can re-book the time with someone else.

Once in a while a new guy will forget – or something – to confirm in the morning, and then call me shortly before his appointment time, acting as if he thinks it's still a go. But it's not going to happen. I won't be keeping the appointment, and I won't rebook with that guy, either. I have rules, and if you can't follow the rules at this stage of the game, it's not going to get any better.

But my blow-off guy yesterday wasn't a new guy. He's one of those clients – I suppose now I should call him an ex-client – who's seen me about two or three times a year for the last couple of years. So not a real steady regular, but certainly a known entity. He's a nice guy when you're with him, attractive and charming. But when he called to make the appointment, my brain was running a little more slowly than it should have. Here's what happened:

Ring ring!
Me: hello?
Caller: Hey, it's me, Mr. No Show.
Me: Oh, hi, baby, how you doing?

As I say this, my brain grabs the name and does a fast search through the mental hard drive. Ping! Up pops an image of a face and the thought: yeah, we know this guy, and he's cool.

Mr. No Show: Just great. Listen, can I get an appointment Monday at 2?
Me: Monday at 2? I think that's open, let me check - yeah, that works. Okay, fine, Monday at two, we're on.
Mr. No Show: Terrific! See you then.
Click. He hangs up.

And now, about three seconds too late, my brain pulls up another bit of info: Yeah, he's cool - except that he blew you off that one time. Make sure to tell him to call and confirm Monday morning, so you don’t go all the way over there and get dressed and ready for nothing!


And of course I don't have contact info for him, dammit, because I don't require it. I'll certainly take an email addy or a phone number if someone's willing to give it to me, but I don't insist. And 99% of the time I wouldn't need it anyway.

So Mr. No Show was already in the category of clients that the English would call, "dodgy". That means "of uncertain outcome; especially fraught with risk". Dodgy clients always have to call to confirm, too - except when I let them get off the phone too quickly.

After Mr. No Show's previous no-show, which was about two years ago, he called and apologized and I let him sweet-talk me into forgiving him and taking him back as a client. (Some financial reparations were also called for.)

But this time, I have a feeling I've seen the last of him. It's just a hunch. I'll keep you posted if he calls up with some creative excuse; "The dog ate my cell phone!" Riiiight…

No comments: