Most business owners find there’s never enough time in the day. Your time is valuable and the demands of your business usually dictate how you spend it. The last thing you can afford is to have your time wasted by others.
Time-wasters are people who take up your time in such a way that it distracts you from running your business. You’re unable to manage because you have to spend your time dealing with people who just don’t seem to understand that you have more important things to do.
Business owners need a set of communication techniques they can use to deal with this kind of person – techniques that are always there and ready when needed. These techniques need to be as effective as they are inoffensive because regardless of whether you use them with your team, your customers, your suppliers or anyone else, the aim is to manage the conversation, not alienate the person.
Think of the last time you had the feeling that you just couldn’t escape from a customer or a phone caller. Your mind kept thinking about all the things you needed to get done but couldn’t because this person was monopolising your time.
Time is money and whenever that situation arises it’s costing you money. You need a way to get conversations with time-wasters under control. So start by taking the initiative in the conversation and employing one of these techniques:
Respond with a ‘conversation killer’
Have a prepared list of questions that are real conversation killers. “Have you tried (other business name) for those?” or “Why don’t you ask about that at (other business name) – I’m sure they can help you” are examples of this. This sort of response should be helpful but redirect their attention from you to another target.
Provide the information impersonally
There are lots of ‘shoppers’ that are just gathering information but don’t really intend to buy anything. An example of this is DIY homeowners who use hardware store owners as a source of information because they can’t be bothered looking up how to do simple things around the house.
Hardware store owners have learned that the best way to deal with this is to keep a list of sources of handyman related information that they can hand DIYers instead of having to take them through the whole process of how to paint a house or fix their leaking tap.
‘Backroom’ the paperwork
Business owners need time to concentrate on the never ending flood of paperwork that crosses their desks. Try to do as much paperwork as possible away from customers and instead of having them wait until everything’s finished, just send them their copies in the mail.
Hang up on telemarketers
Telemarketing is so common these days that you’re likely to get at least one call a day from these time-wasters. They have a number of ways to keep the conversation going so don’t let it even begin. Once you’re aware it’s a telemarketing call just tell them “Sorry, I don’t have the time for this now” and hang up.
Delegate ‘handling time’
You don’t have to deal personally with everybody that wants a slice of your time. Learn to delegate ‘handling time’ to others and tell the time-waster something like “I’d really like to help you but (team member) will take down all the details and order that part for you”.
Not everyone you encounter will be a time-waster but even a few of them can be a big drain on your resources. You need to identify them quickly and apply the most appropriate technique that allows you to take control of the situation.