Business stuff and managing expectations

It has been a very busy day for me. Tuesday is typically my work from home day, where I focus on my self-employment side of life and taking care of that aspect of business. But like most of my life and work, part-time law firm stuff seeps in here and there, just like on other days I am sometimes returning a phone call or text or email to one of my private clients or handling self-employment/private client matters on law firm days.

Whatever is going on this week, everyone seems to be having some sort of crisis. I just accepted another private client because while I am absolutely at capacity with work and hours, he is a close friend of an existing client and told me my top-shelf fees were fine. *sigh* Sometimes it’s really hard to say no.

But different industries have different business standards. I think, anyway. For me, being a solo little entrepreneur, I make myself as available and accessible to my clients as possible and within reason. That said, I have yet to have a client be abusive of my time. They might email me at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning, but they are fine if I do not reply until sometime on Monday. If it is a genuine emergency – and let’s face it, genuine emergencies are really rare in accounting – they can call me anytime and I will do my best to get back to them ASAP. In the span of my career, the biggest emergency contacts I have had occurred with regard to unexpected deaths in the immediate family and the need to reschedule appointments or special handle document signatures, etc.

Anyway, I am pretty strict about time management. If I have an appointment, I am either a few minutes early or absolutely on-time. I come prepared, and I do everything I can to cover the points that need to be covered, and I try very hard not to waste time – mine or anyone else I interact with.

I am researching local gyms for corporate membership possibilities. Of course I start with my own, because I love and adore my trainer and like the atmosphere of my particular club. J is the one I have the most contact with there, and while I absolutely know he is the very best trainer in the place, I make the (incorrect, apparently) assumption that bringing his sales manager an existing client seeking information about corporate membership – that is a 10 member minimum – she will also be in some similar vein of professional.

So Saturday I emailed her requesting specific information about corporate memberships, after J had very kindly greased the wheels and let her know I would be contacting her. J had gotten me some very general information from someone higher up the food chain, so I wrote a nice email and requested specific terms and conditions. She asked me if I was going to be in the gym at any time this week, and since no managers get in before 9 a.m., I had to make a specific, unusual-for-me appointment time. First for Thursday afternoon, but we know now that wouldn’t work out, so I rescheduled on Monday and sandwiched her in between business appointments late this afternoon. I actually thought if we finished early enough, I’d be able to get a quick cardio session in before moving on to my next meeting.

But I get there, she has apparently forgotten that I had emailed her and scheduled the time to talk about corporate membership. My name rang no bells, only when I reminded her of my email request for corporate membership information, and that I had scheduled an appointment with her did the coin drop in her memory. I can understand that – busy days, lots of members and staff in and out and needing her time and attention. Then she says she will print out the information for me so as to not waste my time and hands me a sheet of paper describing the program, tells me to call or email her with any questions, answers a few of my immediately-come-to-mind questions, and does not even sit down at her desk to have this very brief conversation with me. Obviously I am interrupting her in something else. She spent less than 3 minutes chatting with me, and probably half that was printing out the piece of paper.

It is perplexing. I am somewhat embarrassed to point out the shortcomings to J (yet here I am, blogging about it), because he has to work with these people and probably has little to no sway over what sort of training they receive or how they do their jobs. I feel there is some big missing piece here that I just do not understand. If she is just printing out the information, must she waste my time and bring me into the gym for what I expect is an appointment only to hand me a piece of paper? Maybe she does not know how to attach it to an email and send it?

The problem may be with me. My expectations are too unrealistic for conducting business in other industries. I texted J after our non-meeting with these same sort of bewildered ponderings. I wonder if I have outdated expectations in how people conduct business? I am not in sales; I manage and obsess about other people’s money for a living. Most likely issue, though, is that J is so professional, so good at his job, and so customer focus oriented he has created unrealistic expectations within me for his coworkers. Again, he has set a high bar and ruined me for other fitness-related professionals.

I am hopeful she is better with non-members fresh off the street. Maybe the folks at the other gyms I have to speak with will be even worse and make my club’s sales manager look really, really awesome, like a superstar sales professional. Mostly I am really disappointed in staff performance at my home club. I want them to be better. I want them to aspire to be better. I got no such vibe, but again, maybe it’s because I am already a member and a steady training client; I personally do not represent a commission for her.

However, I am the mover and shaker on what to do about employee benefits, whether gym membership is something we offer our staff and which club chain we choose as our provider. She gave me the impression that she saw me as if I am a worker-bee cog in my organization and not really a decision maker in the process, therefore trying to make a positive impression is pointless. I do hate that. I could care less if I am the janitor cleaning the floors, she could have been a bit more … helpful. Maybe I am just baselessly irritated. Maybe after days and days of glitter-bombing here on the blog I need something new to talk and be bitchy about this time instead.

It’s just really hard to speak glowingly of your own club when you feel like they could not care less about you or anyone you might want to invite to join. J cannot do everything. He has clients to train, classes to lead, personal life to relax and enjoy.

And I am kind of sad to see that he has such … marginal … coworkers. I have heard about them, but this is truly my first firsthand experience of dealing with them.

On the brighter side – because I feel rather Debbie Downer in this post – it has been an amazingly productive day with work and other matters. The membership sales manager is a head-scratcher, for sure, but tomorrow is a new day and other than the front desk guy, J and/or some of his trainer peers, there are no managers in the club before 7 a.m. to harsh my practice buzz.

Yep, I’m reaching for that elusive silver lining tonight.

3 thoughts on “Business stuff and managing expectations

  1. Nope – no silver lining – she is bad at her job and yes sees you as a messenger type not decision maker. Because I intensely dislike that sort and feel a need to make a point at time – I would simply email her and ask for the contact information for who the decision maker is a the gym to discuss them making a proposal to you to be the designated corporate gym. Gyms often, unfortunately, don’t have the most professional/knowledgable staff.

  2. Unprofessional is unprofessional, no matter the industry. She wasted your time. She is not a sales professional in any way, shape, or form. Let’s hope you have better luck with other clubs

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