We have said it before; time is the one commodity we desire over revenue. "Communication," come in at a close second. That is, if time is respected, well used, and put into parameters of efficacy, revenue will follow. If communication is understood all around and amongst all participants in the renovation, new construction, or flipping process, to be just as much about offering information as it is receiving information, then a lot of misunderstanding and frustration will be avoided. This is what one colleague once described to us as the "open kimono" policy.
This is probably one of our bigger frustrations -having to chase information in lieu of having it come to us. However, and in the spirit of full disclosure, we are often told that the world doesn't move at our speed, but at its own speed. Fair enough. We have high expectations. Maybe too high. However, we will also have to say that it is refreshing to be updated without prompting. And, we can give the perfect example from yesterday: We transferred some funds from our personal account to one of our business accounts in order to cover some personal expenses that we had charged to our company credit card. (We might do another post on point accumulation and strategies for point accumulation another time.). We did not do this on line in the traditional way. We did this through our favorite banker and we made the request by email. We then went about our day with other business. When we circled back around to our normal or traditional email follow-up time, we had an email waiting for us that said, " Done!" from our favorite banker. How cool is that? And don't you wish that you did not have to chase answers, but that the follow-up would be there all the time?
Time wasters like having to chase down answers to previously asked questions are, unfortunately, the norm. A good question to ask is, "What hand did I have in establishing this protocol?" In our case, we have realized that we actually encourage a lack of follow-up and prompt communication in two ways: first, we are rather demanding. Being demanding has the opposite effect on people. It actually slows them down. It is the antithesis of encouragement. The second thing we do is that we follow-up with people. And of the two, this one walks the finest of lines. On one hand, following up is somewhat admirable because it is assumed that accountability and responsibility begins at home. "It is my job to follow up and keep everyone on course." On the other hand, following up behind people can encourage a non-reporting type of behavior. At the end of the day, one might be left with a question of what to do.
So, with that in mind, we have set out to establish some time bound reporting and follow up procedures. This is partly what we did over the last week while we were exploring some tangentially related business opportunities and simultaneously taking a small vacation. We've come up with a few ideas that we are still debating. These ideas run the gamut from simple to complex. If anyone reading this has some good protocol, we are all ears and would appreciate your input. For now, we have considered the following:
Stop doing business with those you have to chase. This is a little harsh, because expectations are not clear unless established. On the other hand, if they don't want your business why should you want theirs?
Sit down and discuss the importance of time and how money is based on time -even in passive investments. Chasing answers is a time matter.
Discuss protocol options with all parties involved. This is probably the easiest of the bunch and the most respectful. And even though it is easy to talk, it can be daunting because the outcome or goal is to have an operations manual that is simplified and clear, as well as easy to implement. We have a tendency to over complicate things. Each person or task or business has its own unique set of operating procedures -even if they are not written down. The question is one of arriving at mutual ground to satisfy time concerns for both parties -us and them.
Combo pack between the last two options. This is a little tricky because no one really cares about your time and your chasing answers -they care about their business. So, if going with this route, a diplomatic and "this-is-good-for-you-because" mentality is required. What is it that they want? Asking clarifying questions through statements is good. An example of this is, "Correct me if I am wrong, but I am making the assumption that you would like to be paid promptly, and that this might be one of your bigger frustrations. So with that in mind I propose..."
Go tech. Use tech and things like Trello and other applications to set a calendar and expectations. We like this idea. We like the Ron Popeil "Set it and forget it" mentality. Let's schedule everything with push notifications and automatic follow-ups. We really like this approach. One discussion, and if everyone is on board, go for it. Set it up, monitor, and tweak as needed. Then, and only then, if not successful, implement or revisit one of the other methods including, if need be, the very time consuming halt in business with some while searching for others.
Better to correct the course now before the vessel is miles off shore. Better to get a hold of time when the stakes are moderate. Time waits for no man. Neither should you. Put some kind of practice in to place now to address these course corrections, and your bank account will thank you later.
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