Are You Always Punctual Or Running Late?

Are You Always Punctual Or Running Late?

As a salesperson or insurance agent are you always on time or running late? Is it really important to be punctual? How late is too late? Do you call the client to tell them you are running late? Are you so habitually late that your clients just expect it? I have a theory on not being punctual. Let’s explore it.

Here is my theory of being punctual. If you are meeting a prospect for the first time, the very first thing they have to measure an agent’s integrity is punctuality. So, if you tell John how great you are and how great your product or service is, that is hard to measure, other than research. But if you tell John I will be there Wednesday at 1:00pm and you show up at 1:20pm, John now has a solid measurement of your integrity either consciously or unconsciously. You told him 1:00pm and you didn’t keep your word. Now John must wonder if you lied about anything else. See being punctual goes beyond just being on time. All salespeople, business owners and insurance agents are being tested for honesty by the client.  The time you arrive is your first test, don’t blow it. We live in a very busy world, most all of us do not like to be stood up or ignored by salespeople or service people, why would John?

So what happens when you just can’t help but be late? How late is too late? I train my agents that being on time is late. The agent or salesperson needs to beat least 5 minutes early at a minimum, preferably 10 to 15 minutes early and prepared. Especially if you are not sure where you are going, do not cut it close. If you are going to be more than 10 minutes late, call. We live in the world of cell phones. There is no excuse for lack of communication even if you run the risk of being rescheduled. The same is true of being prepared, do not show up and ask to use the restroom, take care of that business before arriving. Now, driving around in city traffic delays are just a part of life. Sometimes no matter how early you leave you get caught in traffic, it is just unavoidable. Pick up the phone and call. Prospects and clients understand things like that happen from time to time. Just don’t make it a habitual excuse, they see right through that as well. Even if you are just 3 minutes late, apologize. Let them know you are sorry and you realize how valuable their time is. People do appreciate that acknowledgement.

The habitually late salesperson needs work. This agent or salesperson must learn to live by a calendar. I personally prefer to use a Google calendar because it automatically syncs to my smart phone and my Outlook as a backup. Most people that have a seemingly impossible time being punctual needs to break that habit by starting their day earlier. If this person is always 15 minutes late, then start the day 15 minutes early. Psychologists state that it only takes 21 days to create a habit. This agent must challenge themselves to start early and break this really bad habit. One thing to change is to set their clocks 15 minutes fast to “trick” themselves to being on time. I am not the only one that being late is a pet peeve; it could be your next client. Remember time is money, to lose time is to lose money.

If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you punctuality, I have no right to throw away your time, if I do my own.”–Richard Cecil

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 26 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.

31 Responses to Are You Always Punctual Or Running Late?

  • Hey Tim, excellent article…I buy a lot of products and services for my agency and marketing company. If the sales person is running late with a phone call, that’s fine in most cases. But if they show up late with no call and a lame excuse, they are disqualified.

    So we need to remember as sales folks to keep on pace to extend they same courtesy to others! If you run late call them before the scheduled appointment because if you do not, you are almost guaranteed to lose the sale!

  • Jack, I am exactly the same way. If you don’t care about my valuable time, why would I care about you or your product/service. It is critically important to be on time as a salesperson or insurance agent. I really appreciate you sharing.

  • I have always gone by the rule if you aren’t ten minutes early, you’re late. If you aren’t on time to appointments, IN or OUT of our industry, you are basically telling your clients, or who ever you are meeting with for that matter, that your time is more valuable than theirs. It’s just plain disrespectful. In addition to that, Being a few mintutes early give you a second to gather your thoughts so you can effectively get your point across without feeling frazzled or rushed. Personally, I couldn’t see myself ever purchasing, or taking someone seriously who can’t show up to appointments, meetings, etc on time ready to work.

  • Elise, that is very well put. I couldn’t agree more and I really appreciate you sharing.

  • No question: five minutes early is on time. Any danger of being late should be signalled with a phone call – there’s no excuse for not doing so when we all have a mobile.

  • Failure to plan is a plan in itself….No excuse to run late, none. However, accidents and problems do arise. If I am going to run late, I know it 15-30 minutes before my scheduled meeting…we all do. I call and text the person my eta to see if meeting is still possible, after all, they do have a schedule to keep, as well. History shows that appointments should not be booked so close together to keep a person from making each appointment on time and relaxed. Even most doctors have finally figured this out 😉

  • Thank you for sharing Chris and Diana. I have start to wonder why everyone that comments on this blog are the agents that are always early and have systems in place not to be late. Do you think the agents that are always late take offense to this blog or is it just shame? Curious?

  • Oh, this is one of those “chicken or the egg” kind of questions! Here’s the situation; I hold myself to a fairly strict standard but am very open minded when working with others. In cases of representing my company or brand, I am very much a supporter of being 20 minutes early rather than 5 minutes late. I want to convey calm, cool, all encompassing competence, therefore I will be right on time. In internal situations, I’m much more flexible and look to see that work is done, communication is open and our end product is delivered on time and exceeding client expectations – life happens and sight of that should not be lost. As long as the following is accomplished, I’m cool: don’t hold up someone else’s project; communicate issues sooner rather than later; if you are efficient and get work done in 35 hours rather than 40, good for you; if you’re working 50 hours, there’s an issue and we should talk; always be open to the fact that extra hours will be necessary in certain situations and we need to put in the time when we are needed. These are generalities and should be discussed in detail by all involved, so expectation are understood. Having owned the roles of worker bee to project manager, I’ve had to learn to be flexible and only ask the same in return.

  • Cherie, I believe it is cut and dried when it come to being “on time”. The amount of work puts in is not as important. If one can do their job in 30 hours versus 40 hours more power to them. As a passionate business owner, I really couldn’t tell you how many hours I “work” because I love what I do and my business is my “baby”. That is the beauty of loving what I do, I haven’t worked in years! Thank you so much for sharing your comment. You are definitely on the right track to success!

  • Perhaps they haven’t got time to reply….

  • Chris, that is an awesome response! Maybe they are just late to reply. 🙂 Thank you for that, you made me laugh.

  • Tim, I am usually, say 98% of the time, early or on-time. If I am late it’s due to poor planning on my part, not leaving early enough or sometimes just plain traffic. I like Cherie’s comments and support that.

    One thing however, sometimes when the other party is late and has inconvenienced you, they tend to be apologetic and even more conciliatory when you are in a negotiation state, since they feel obligated to you.

    On the other hand, I have had a partner that I swear was always intentionally late, I think he did it to try and convey the appearance of being very busy and in demand. Frustrated the hell out of me. Needless to say we weren’t partners for very long.

  • Ron, I would not have lasted as long as you. Nobody is that busy. We all have the same 24 hours a day that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have. It is disrepectful to constantly be late. He was telling you my time is more important than yours. Not someone I would want to be in business with. Thank you for sharing.

  • I find it disrespectful to be late, especially on the initial appointment. Everyone’s time is valuable and should be respected.

  • Agents that are always late, or anyone that is always late, do not take offense to this discussion, they merely have an excuse – every time – for why they have failed to plan properly. Being late is one of the most insulting behaviors a person can have. They not only do not value their own time, they do not value or respect the other person’s time.

  • Diana that probably answers my question as why the habitually late people don’t comment on this blog. It is hard to fix a problem if you don’t see it as a problem. I totally agree with you and John, it is very disrespectful to be late. Thank you both for sharing.

  • I agree that it is very important to be on time. I always try to be between 5 and 10 minutes early for any client meeting, carrier meeting, or any other meeting. I find it is not only respectful to the people I am meeting, but is less stressful for me as well

  • I love that you use Lombardi time as your bar, on time is late and 15 minutes early is on time. I used to be late personally and professionally very often back in the day, then once I defined my tasks, scheduled my day and got organized, it eliminated that tardiness.

  • What I have found from those who are habitually late is that they are not just late for me or for other business appointments, they are late for everything in their life…late for meeting friends, making dinner late, picking up the kids from school or events late…their whole world is 5 minutes or an hour late. Again, this is disrespectful to our children who rely on us, our friends that care for us and anyone & everyone. The way to make change, as Tim points out, first acknowledge the problem.

  • Rob, congratulations for getting organized. You are correct, it is as simple as that to stop tardiness. As Diana, points out these people are not only late in business but every aspect of their lives. Guess what lesson they are teaching their children? It is a really bad habit and one that is not all that hard to break if they just focus on getting organized and living by a schedule similar to living on a budget. We all must make time behave for us. As my friend Duke told me, “killing time is not murder it is suicide”.

  • Well said, what we teach others by our actions is often overlooked. I think you also have to respect yourself and others in the process of respecting time.

    Some of my fave quotes regarding time:

    The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot

    ~ Michael Altshuler

    In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do, it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.

~ Sir John Lubbock

    Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.
    ~ William Penn

    Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.

    ~ Harvey McKay

  • My goal is to early for every appointment and am almost always early for an appointment. If circumstances prohibit me from being early I call the person with whom I have the appointment and advise them of the situation, my ETA and ask if this still works for their schedule.
    I regard habitual tardiness as selfish and self centered and do not wish to do business with those who are habitually late.
    The only thing that I want to be late for is my own funeral.

  • Timothy, you nailed it my friend! The ONLY thing we should ever want to be late for is our funeral. Thank you for sharing.

  • I had some words of advice from a great mentor – “Don’t start your first meeting with anyone with the words “Sorry I am late….” – you are now in a poor negotiating position as well as having all the issues described in previous posts. Best outome to aim for is you are bang on time (too early might be irritatiing too), well prepared and it is the client who has to apologise – now you’re in a good negotiating position.

  • Great post, Tim. There are so many things we’ can’t control – our prospect’s feelings, the economic environment, and so on. Punctuality is 100% within our control and very few people take it seriously. I’ve always heard – never trust someone who doesn’t wear a watch. There’s a lot of truth to that statement.

  • Never be late – ever. You are getting a commission to service an account, which means you are getting paid to be there on time. The person who is frequently late is probably the same person that gets mad when pizza isn’t delivered within a half hour, or lays on the horn as soon as the light turns green.

    If I am going to be arriving at the scheduled time or later, I still call or e-mail. Some clients can’t afford to waste time, so I would offer to reschedule at their convenience and have the meeting over lunch or dinner at my expense. Being early will cost you a few bucks for a coffee to kill some time, but being late will cost you your next paycheck.

  • Many thanks a whole lot for sharing!

  • Tim,

    The smartest thing I’ve ever done is to allow enough time to get to an appointment. I have even arrived so early that I park down the block and wait so that I am not too early.

    Here’s another tip I’ve learned. If you want to be stress free while driving on the freeway drive the speed limit. Nobody will stay behind you and the road in front is always clear. They must be late for appointments.

  • Steve, I am very grateful for your share of my blog, thank you. I believe you are correct with your analogy, everyone must be running late. Much continued success my friend!

  • I always arrive at least 10 minutes early. If I have to wait, I wait. It’s just the right thing to do.

  • Allan, you and I are on the same page. If I am not 10 minutes early, I’m late. Thank you for sharing.

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