On my website, I list a document people can request entitled “Are You Ready to Work on Your Flight Plan?” The sub-title is “A discussion we have with a new prospect.”
Here’s how the document came about.
As a consultant specializing in mentoring CEOs and owners who want help growing their businesses in a significant way, I call upon my real-life experiences…mostly pleasant but not without a few flops. I had been hearing at networking groups that I really should talk to Judy because “she needs help.”
Judy Needs Help!
I met with Judy and discovered why she needed help:
- Emily’s submarine sandwich business was badly failing
- Judy, Emily’s cousin, bought the business from Emily to keep it afloat and provide a source of income for Emily. Judy intended to manage the business affairs. (Judy had no prior food service experience.)
- Judy told me that she had become a slave to the business. Emily continued running the business exactly as she had before because, as Emily liked to say, “it was so successful.”
- Under Judy’s ownership the business was still unprofitable.
- Judy found herself cleaning tables, washing dishes, keep the dining room clean, etc. etc. Not exactly the gentlewoman-business-owner-life she had envisioned.
- Much to the consternation of her husband, Judy continued to fork over money to keep the business running.
I met both of them at the restaurant after the noon rush (more of a noon trickle), and they said they wanted to make the business profitable and grow it. After suggesting some ideas, I laid out a rough idea of what my help would cost. They needed to think it over.
Judy called the next day and said not a word about whether they were interested in hiring me. She said plenty of words about all of the food Emily wastes. Suddenly, after she had vented, she hopped off the line.
I was in the car at the end of the following day when I got another call from Judy. She really unloaded on the injustices of her life and how clueless Emily was about business. I was polite and offered some suggestions, but each suggestion ran right into a stone wall.
By now it was clear Judy had found in me a pro bono SHRINK! (I might not be capable, but the price was right.)
The reality was there is no way Judy will fix her problems. She isn’t mentor-able and is simply looking for someone who will let her rant and rave. I politely tell Judy that I am not able to help her. I had expended too much time on this “opportunity” and unfortunately a few others.
I began working on an early predictor that an engagement would not work.
At last! A Solution (for me!)
“Are You Ready to Work on Your Flight Plan” is the result. It consists of three sections (About you, About your business, and Business survival threats). Each section contains several questions or situations. I invite prospects to select topics of interest for discussion, and sometimes I steer them to certain questions. The conversations arising out of the questions provide clues as to whether this prospect is mentor-able, and I make a go/no go decision on the spot.
Identifying people who would not be good clients is vital to the integrity of your brand.Tags: brand, integrity, mentor, success