Follow-up or Fail

Posted on February 26, 2011

I had the privilege of hosting a dinner party for an international businessman and was taken aback by his comment that America is a horrible place to do business. Deeper conversation clarified that his negative perception arose not from economic woes, but from a lack of follow-through.

Belgian-born Lars lives, for the most part, in South Korea, and owns businesses on three continents. A civil engineer by trade, his wealth came from consulting and troubleshooting for large, multinational corporations before he became a business owner. This US trip was to establish a European-popular, private-label product in the western US.

After doing his due-diligence and picking a 500,000+ urban demographic most receptive to the product, he made inquiries for a fleet of vans, warehouse space, sales associates, distribution channels, etc. The car dealership gave him the run-around and never did follow-up to pinpoint his needs. The first three commercial realtors never called back. The fourth one dialed him a month later to see if he was still interested. He was not. When he did look at warehouse space found on his own, the places were dirty and in need of repair, and then he was told the repair costs would be tacked on to the asking price. He checked an employment agency hoping to quickly find 10 vetted veteran sales people and was told they’d call him back, which they never did. After many frustrating encounters in one western city over several months time, his perception of the entire US business community is one of idiotic dolts who aren’t interested in stimulating the economy.

A fair perception? Hardly. His American entrepreneurial experience is limited, at best. But one negative perception multiplied by many social networking channels has the potential to change the course of business, or history as we are now witnessing. And this negative perception was easily preventable by practicing the golden rule of business: timely follow up.

The impact of perception matters. And in this instance, positive perception and shared success was as simple as picking up the phone.

Recipe of the Day
Katie’s Sausage Queso Dip
This is a great one for watching those sporting events. It always goes first.
1 10 oz. can Ro*Tel Original Tomatoes & Green Chilies
16 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. spicy sausage
½ cup chopped cilantro
Brown broken up sausage with cilantro over medium heat. Cube cream cheese, add to the sausage and stir until melted. Add the Ro*Tel and mix thoroughly. Cook 5 minutes on medium low, stirring occasionally. Serve warm with tortilla chips or thick red pepper slices.

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