31 January 2011 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Here is my experience with a particular Doctor some 20 years ago when living in the GTA. Our Family Doctor for 10 years whom delivered our youngest daughter had a very busy practice. He was not only a good Doctor and popular but he was a Business person with an interest in making money. He was an investor in the stock market but also belonged to some select investors groups which would buy properties for resale in both the domestic and international markets. He frequently took business calls during patient appointments. Between personal phone calls and over bookings,  he was constantly very late for his appointments, thus the problem. He would book your appointment  for 1:00 pm but would not see you for 2-4 hours. While waiting in his office I have witnessed mothers with newborns run out of milk and have to leave and rebook their appointment. I’ve seen irate husbands come 3-4 times to check if their wife was finished yet and the same for people bringing elders to the Doctor’s office. Never did I or my family members go to his office without being there for at least 2-4 hours. The waiting room was always full and at times some people had to stand or sit on the floor in the hallway. One day I decided to poll the people waiting to determine when their appointments were scheduled for. I found that in most cases people were booked 3 at every 15 minutes. My common sense told me that it was impossible to see 12 patients per hour. That is definately overbooking. In my Business being late for an appointment would mean Bankruptcy or lost of Professionalism at the very least. I felt sorry for some of the Moms and the elderly, so I took it upon myself to talk to the receptionist. Her response was : That is the way it is in the medical field, too many patients and not enough Doctors. When I finally met the Doctor for my appointment, I brought the issue to his attention and he gave me a speech about that is the way it is and could not do anything about it. As nice as he was, you could not argue with him or challenge him. He was always right and he knew everything because he was a Doctor.

Time and time again we waited endlessly for our appointments. Basically when you went to his office, you had to plan to be there for 4 hours and brought a lunch in case. Well I got more and more agitated with these 1/2 day appointments. We preferred not changing Doctor after having a long history with him. Then one day I thought I am going to appeal to his Business sense. I mailed him an invoice for my 4 hours of  lost work time. He called me one evening at app. 7:30 pm. He says; ” Gerry what kind of a joke is this invoice”. I said no joke. You are costing me money. You make an appointment, I show up on time then you make me wait. I could be billing my time out rather than sitting reading out dated books/magazines. I asked him: ” What Business are you in?”  He said : ” The Medical Care field of course”. I replied; ” No you are not. You are in the Business of making money. No one overbooks like you do and expect to give quality care to all their patients. Besides you take personal phone calls about your investments while we are waiting. I can’t afford that much time to see you. It is unprofessional”. Well he gave me a piece of his mind in words I cannot repeat.  I told him that every time I have to wait more than an hour to see him, I would send him another invoice. If  he did not pay I would have a Lawyer call him or I would bring him to small claims court just to get a note put of his credit bureau. Now he was really mad.

The next visit to his office was by my wife and daughter. That night she tells me she was in and out of the Doctor’s office within a half  hour. I thought maybe we were in for some positive changes. On my next visit to the Doctor’s office, I get called in ahead of some people that had been there for some time. We deal with my medical issue with no mention of our telephone conversation and I am out of the office within 1/2 hour total. The short version is we never talked about that infamous call and from then on my family and I never waited more than 1 hour tops ever again. We did feel bad we were seen ahead of other people but it suited our needs at the time.

To be fair, I have to admit to having tried similar approaches with utility companies and two Hospitals however the results were not as positive.

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31 January 2011 Categories: Gerry's Corner

I have 2 stories to share but before I begin, I want it to be clear that I am NOT sharing these stories as recommendations but purely for humorous reading. These actions that I took in response to some unpleasant experiences felt like the right thing to do at the time. Both these incidents happened more than 20 years ago.

I was working onsite at a client. This particular day when I arrived at work the client gave me a cheque for my last invoice. Being on a tight family budget, I decided to go to the bank to deposit my cheque during my lunch hour. I arrived at the bank and it seemed like everyone decided to go to the bank at the same time. These were the days before ATMs. Now I have to stand in a serpentine line of app. 20 people with only 2 tellers working because the other tellers were at lunch as well. I waited in line for 45 minutes to complete a 2 minute transaction. Even though I was a Business client with the bank, I was not allowed to go to the Business teller because my Business was too small, in other words I did not deposit many cheques, cash and coins. When I finished at the bank, I did not have time to grab any lunch because I had a meeting to attend at 1:00 pm. I forfeited my lunch and was on time for the meeting. It bothered me tremendously that I had to stand in line so long and miss my lunch. I was thinking, I give my money to the bank to keepsake it for me, they in turn give me no interest but yet the bank makes money on my money. I thought the bank should be in line for me instead of the reverse; afterall they were going to gain the most from this transaction. That night I could not get this situation out of my mind. Then I put my Buusiness hat on and thought time is money therefore the bank cost me money for waiting so long in line. I decided in a fury to send the bank an invoice for my waiting time that day. I prepared an invoice, addressed it to the Bank Manager and mailed it. What have I got to lose? Two weeks later I get a call from the Bank Manager asking me if I had made any arrangements with any of his staff members for work that was covered by my invoice. I replied no and explained that I was charging him for my lost time being in a line up so long to deposit a cheque. Of course he advised me that he had to talk to Head Office about this but he did not think they would allow him to pay my invoice.  So I replied like a typical CEO ”  Well you will be talking to my Lawyer ”  Two more weeks go by and I heard nothing further from the bank so I sent him another invoice plus interest for past due payment. I received another cheque from my client and off I go to the bank to deposit it. I really don’t recall if it was at lunch time but again I was in line a longer time than acceptable. I get to the teller and as soon  as she seen my name on the cheque, she moves aside and whispers something in the ear of the teller next to her. That teller leaves and talks to another person and that person literally runs to the back offices. You would think that I had just presented a note to the teller saying :”  This is a robbery ”  The teller very slowly continued to process my cheque then a short and stocky gentleman comes from the back offices straightening his tie and suit coat. This gentleman comes to where I was standing and says : ” Oh, you are _____”? Then says ” I am ____ the Bank Manager, could I see you at the other counter, please “. I went to the counter and met the Manager. He starts explaining to me that since I had sent my invoice that he had conducted an investigation and found that I was treated unfairly. He had found that I was a Business customer in very good standing and that I should never have been in line with the retail customers. I explained to him that I was rejected by the Business teller more than once and that the Business line was strictly for large Business clients like stores. He then told me that I would never be rejected as a Business customer again. I thanked him and told him to forget about the invoice I had sent him.

The real funny part is the next time I went to the bank everyone knew me, even greeting me by name. I was now a somebody. When I went to the Business teller I found I could do my retail banking ( personal accounts, kids accounts, etc. ) as well. For the time I dealt with that bank branch I never had to stand in line again. Read my next blog for the second story on a similar subject.

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Client Data Base

22 January 2011 Categories: Gerry's Corner

As a follow up to my previous Blog on Cold Calling/Telemarketing, I want to share some ideas on developing a client/customer/supplier Data Base. The gathering of  information for a good Data Base is tedious, time consuming and never ending. However the value of this list is the key to your success in developing, growing and maintaining your Business. Any good Salesperson will confirm that without such a list there will be no Business. Many Salespeople still have their first contacts from 10 to 30 years ago. A well maintained contact list is ageless in fact sometimes when you close a Business such a list can be sold with the Business or to another Business.

A simple list will include contact names, phone numbers, company names, email addresses, mailing addresses and even locations. Depending on your particular Business, you may choose to have elaborate client information. Here are some hints to start, develop and maintain a client Data Base:

  1. Do a brainstorming and list all the people you know ( names/phone numbers )  Eventually you will separate this list into contacts which are for networking purposes only ( they will never buy from you ) and those contacts that are potential clients/customers.
  2. Dig out every business card you have ever collected. You should call to verify that the information is still current then add them to your list.
  3. Get names from hard copy Directories and the Internet.
  4. Start calling your contact list

— to qualify potential buyers

— to identify potential buyers

— to collect other names and phone numbers

—  to collect referrals

5.   Keep your list updated by making changes to client profiles following every conversation with them

6.  Be consistent and work your contact list regularly ( not every 3 months or annually )

7.  Value this contact list as your life line

8.  Know that your contact list will grow in value over time much like a Mutual Fund

The tools you choose to manage this Data Base are a personal choice. Computers can manage these for you as complex or as simple as you choose to make it. You can easily have the computer remind you to follow up on specific contacts.

If you are to be successful in any Business, a Data Base of potential clients/customers is the key to that success. Guard the ownership of this list if you have anyone working for you from this list. This is how new Entrepreneurs may choose to start their own Business by using your contact list.

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Cold Calling-Telemarketing

20 January 2011 Categories: Gerry's Corner

I am preparing for an upcoming cold calling/telemarketing workshop for new entrepreneurs offering personal/business services.

Both terms — cold calling and telemarketing instill a certain fear and disgust for both the person making calls and those receiving calls. The reality is: cold calling/telemarketing works. That is why it exists and persists.

For those of you who need this tool to grow your Business and build your customer base, here are a few quick hints:

  • Use a pleasant and confident tone of voice
  • Be Brief
  • Remember– You only have a few seconds to make a good impression
  • Be Professional
  • Use a miror to practice before you make calls
  • Ask yourself- Would I buy from this person in the mirror?
  • Keep notes of your conversation for follow up
  • Thank your contact whether you get the sale or not
  • Be prepared to do follow up calls
  • Ask if there is anyone else you should contact about your service
  • Be prepared to make hundreds and hundreds of calls.

You do have experience in cold calling. In your life experiences, you have had to call people you have never talked to before to get information. Example: Schools, Municipalities, Contractors, Lawyers, Accountants, Government agencies, Internet, etc. Cold calling is not new to you. You have had to use it many times in the past so embrace it as a skill you already have.

The more you use cold calling, the better you get at it. In other words, practice makes perfect.

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Tow Trucks

06 January 2011 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Today I was going to write about a recent experience whereby I was going to vent my anger and even name drop ( which is not the purpose of this Blog ). Instead I have chosen to tell you a story and you can interpret it as you see fit. On the one hand this story could be a good example of creativity in Enterpreneurship even though illegal and immoral. On the other hand it is an education for those of us who may be faced with similar situations.

Recently while visiting my sister in the Hospital, I found the cost for parking prohibitive. The parking ticket is only good for 2 hours at a cost of $ 8.00. I was spending 8-10 hours at the Hoapital. Nearby there are private parking lots. These parking lots are self serve. You pay your money in a machine and place the ticket on the dash of your vehicle. The cost was $ 5.00 a day. With the absence of an attendant the owner of the parking property makes exclusive arrangements with a Tow Truck Company to regularly patrol the lot for those who do not pay or have expired tickets. This particular Tow Truck Company was a shark to say the least. The second day I parked in this lot, I came out of the Hospital with my 2 sisters to find my truck gone. What a terrible feeling especially after visiting with my sick other sister for most of the day. We read the posted signs to find out where my truck was impounded to. I had paid my fee and did display my ticket in fact because it was a hot and windy day I left my windows slightly open and placed my sunglass case on part of the ticket so it would not blow off the dashboard.

We went to the compound to retrieve my truck and all hell broke loose. First of all the posted cost for the tow was $ 80.00. We argued that I paid the required $ 5.00 and the ticket was displayed. The lot attendant ( who was the owner ) showed us that the ticket was partially covered even though you could clearly see the date and the amount paid. We argued that he was taking advantage of a situation. To add insult to injury, he pulls an additional ticket from the windshield wiper for another $30.00 The ticket resembled what you would get from a Green Hornet ( meter reader ). The ticket said pay immediately to the Tow Truck Company or the amount doubles in 7 days and doubles again in 14 days. We became very agitated and so did he. Then the price started going up to get my truck. The last price was $ 300.00. My sister decided to phone the Police to have this settled and to release my truck. It was getting late I had not had any supper and I am a Diabetic. I needed to eat and take my insulin. My insulin was in a cooler in the truck and he would not allow me to get my medication. He was also about to close for the night. When threatened by the Police visit, he totally changed his demeanor. We paid the $ 80.00 plus taxes but refused to pay the additional $30.00 and did get my truck.

This is where the story gets really interesting. The following day I borrowed a family member’s car, because I did not trust these guys to maybe return and do damage to my truck in retaliation. The next few days, we would go for a walk by this same parking lot and check on what was going on. This Tow Truck Company prowled this parking lot like a wolf waiting to feed on his prey. These guys would check the tickets in the parked cars as soon as the car owner left the parking lot. One guy had a gadget in his hand which we could not figure out what it was. We found out later that some of these companies are known to blow forced air in the vehicles if windows are open to displace the ticket off the dashboard then tow the vehicle away for not properly displaying the ticket.

This Company towed 4 cars in one hour. It was like watching a production line. They also check vehicles for evidence of whether the vehicules are from out of town or not. Then give the out of towners an additional ticket on and above the posted tow charges as if it was a legitimate city parking ticket. Totally illegal !!

The good news is, one of my sisters owns the largest Tow Truck Company in the area ( 34 Tow Trucks ) and has had running contracts over the years with both the City and the O.P.P. She is a reputable owner who is appalled with some of these smaller dishonest Towing Companies. She and the O.P.P. are now charging this company with illegal issuance of tickets and illegally towing of vehicles.

My advice is be very cautious in dealing with Tow Truck Companies. Be aware of your rights and don’t be afraid of calling the Police to settle a dispute. Most Tow Truck Companies are honest Business owners. It is the odd Company that takes advantage and gives a bad name to the whole industry.

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