Steve Marr Blog

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Oct 04

Being Predictable and Reliable

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Some years ago I offered “Ken” a summer job.  He called me the day he was supposed to start to tell me he had decided to take another summer position. Later, Ken asked me several times about part-time work.  My short answer was no thank you. 

I've been reading more articles about how some job applicants simply don't show up for interviews. They simply fail to contact the company that they are no longer interested. If someone simply doesn't show up for an interview but tries to set another time to talk, why would the company want to hire a person who has already demonstrated unreliability?  


Reliability is a key to any business success. Our customers must believe that we will do what we say, when we say we will do it and at the price we quoted.  I understand issues may come up and we may have challenges. However, these changes should be the exception not the rule.

Business is based on trust and every transaction has two parts. The business commits to performing a service or providing a product. The customer agrees to pay and accommodates the supplier as needed. A breach of trust strains the relationship.

In the past we employed a housecleaner who consistently had issues with our agreed upon arriving time. Sometimes, the housecleaner didn't show up and didn’t even call to alert us.  Other times the person might send an email or text telling us about a new arrival time.  Given that both my wife and I have commitments and can’t sit at home all day waiting for a housecleaner, this was unacceptable. Twice we had what I viewed as a gentle conversation about our schedule and the need for our housecleaner to arrive as agreed. We asked for advance notice if something prevented keeping our scheduled time.  The housecleaner stopped coming.

King Solomon wrote, “Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.” (Proverbs 25:19, NLT) When we hire staff or contractors we need confidence that they will follow through with commitments. In my businesses I cannot tell a customer that we failed to deliver on time because my employee or contractor failed to complete their task as agreed.  The responsibility stops with me.

Reliability by the clock is a good indicator. Folks who tend to be habitually late usually demonstrate unreliability in other matters. While I understand events may occur that affect our timeliness, we must organize and plan our time in a way that maintains our reliability to others. In my situation I don't schedule appointments on top of each other.  I allow some room so that if one appointment goes over I'm not automatically late for my next commitment. Though I may end up with a few loose moments occasionally, I have a list of items I could do that take from a minute to twenty minutes. It helps me take advantage of slack time.

If I have a 10 o'clock meeting with client but I show up at 10:15, my customer is rightly aggravated.  Likewise if I show up at 10 o'clock, but my appointment keeps me waiting for 20 minutes; I am aggravated.  I don't like wasting time.

The basic principle we need to learn is that the number one indicator of business success is being predictable and reliable in doing what we said we would do at the time we committed. I endeavor to deliver this myself, and I insist others deliver it to me. This principle serves me well.

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