If you’re in the Search and Placement business right now, your timing is terrific. Historically, our industry has always been one of L-O-N-G boom, followed by severe bust….followed by another L-O-N-G boom! The greatest growth, however, is to be had in the immediate aftermath of a Recession when our market comes back, and the most understaffed industry is ….ours! Are we there yet? No. But we are getting close!
Does this mean it is time to add to our staff? Not quite. But neither is it a time to just wait around until the market comes back. Rather, this is the moment to establish good work patterns to maximize results from our still-mediocre market, and to establish the habits that will allow you to take full advantage of the boom that is lurking out there.
What patterns are we referring to? Check yourself against the following, and see how well you do.
1) Early Arrival
Did you arrive in our office on time this morning? This means no later than 8:30! If not, you’d best not complain about our current market, nor are you setting yourself up to maximize a resurgent one.
2) Daily Planner
Was your written planner fully filled-out? A brilliant but unplanned search consultant will be out-produced by a good well-planned one. Paul Hawkinson, editor of The Fordyce Letter, has written that “one of the things all top producers have in common is that they are well-planned”. Is that you?
3) Five Calls before 9:30 A.M.
Survey after survey has shown that most business sales are made before noon. No early time on the phone means wasting the most productive time. Even if you are not a “morning person”, grit your teeth and do it! To quote the author, “push the stupid buttons on the phone!”
4) Early “Reward Program”
You can psychologically addict yourself to hitting the phones early. Just give yourself a “reward” (cup of coffee, short walk around the office, whatever works) after five presentations. No five presentations, no reward! You will train yourself to an early start.
5) Limited Non-Business Calls
Personal calls are business killers! They significantly interfere with your concentration, besides taking time away from work. No more than one a day, either incoming or outgoing. And no more that five minutes!
6) Five New Prospective Account Presentations
Every day in a less-than-boom market, you must search for new clients. Too few searches means working on what you do have. Lack of prospecting means it may be the wrong one.
7) Thirty Extensive Conversations
There is much more to “numbers and ratios” than “hash marks”. New people will need more calls to achieve this number, but will not have more of these extensive business discussions than will the experienced. But every day, thirty a day will keep the bill collector away, if your skills are right.
8) An Interview a Day
Your first thought on planning your day for tomorrow must be “where will I get my interview?” Phone interviews count. A first contact between candidate and client is an interview. A daily push for an interview will yield you results — in any market.
9) New Sign on Your Phone
Improving your skills is a habit. An easy way to do this is to post a note on your phone every week reminding yourself to implement a new on-the-phone habit pattern.
10) Stay Till 5 P.M….At Least!
A habit of “ducking out” early will get worse and worse over time. It will become a downward spiral. If you try to “beat the traffic”, in a slow market, the market will beat you!
11) Skill Improvement Tonight?
Andrew Carnegie wrote that “careers are made or marred after working hours”. At least three days a week, you should be reading a chapter in a business book, critiquing your own taped call, watching part of a business video, or striving to improve.
12) Reading in the Office?
Office time is for planning and implementing. Whether general newspaper, magazines, or industry newsletters, reading should be done after hours. Stay focused on production in the office.
13) Office Conversations
Whether non-business discussions or pointless conversations started by non-productive people, this is a trap! Pleasantries are fine, but more than five minutes is too much.
14) Stay Off the Internet
Innumerable surveys have proved that most web shopping, surfing, porn and chat is done during business hours. If this is you, it will drain your results. This author was recently quoted in Investors Business Daily’s “Leaders and Success” section saying, “click your internet connection off, so you are not tempted to use it. Turn it on only when you really need to, and then turn it back off!” What is recommended for Investors Business Daily readers is also recommended for you.
15) “No Computer” Day
So you think your computer helps you to increase production? Maybe. But try this. At least one day a week, implement a “no computer day”. If you have everything computerized, just do hard copy print-outs (known as paper) the day before, and roar through your day until planning time without turning it on. If you’re a manager, try this for your entire office. Expect to see your staff completing all planned calls early in the day. Why do you think that might be?
How do you measure up on the 15 points? There is more to success in our business than staying effective and focused. Without solid skills, you will be out of luck. But good markets and bad, it is the place to start.
Our industry and your production stand on the verge of explosive growth. Incontrovertibly, we are not there yet. But the time is drawing near. When the market returns, you won’t have the time to improve skills or focus on effective habit patterns. You’ll be too busy! And that’s the truth…
Do your best now to improve in every way. Stick around. Great times are ahead!