I’ve always heard that in life, and love, timing is everything. I can attest to the latter, having re-met and married my childhood sweetheart after 30 years. But what about, life, or more specifically, the hospitality biz? How does timing play to how we buy, how we sell and how we can benefit from using “timing” to our advantage? Let’s take a look…
I’m a big proponent of timing when it comes to contracts. All sorts of contracts. Obviously, a great deal can be struck at any time, but there are some times when venues are more apt to be more forgiving with the giving of concessions in contracts. Specifically: at the month’s end, the quarter’s end and the year’s end. I learned this when working for ADP, where a roll call of all sales orders was taken weekly. Those with no signed contracts were quickly made to feel they were not putting forth the effort of those that were closing business. Pressure to perform is a huge motivator.
I’m sure that you’ll see quickly where I am going with this. Sales performance is measured monthly, if not weekly. To forecast where sales efforts are, and what can be expected, reporting new sales agreements has cut-off dates that enable the bean counters to provide management and ownership with a snapshot of what has been sold. Secondly, bonus plans and incentives are tied to these cut-off dates. Put yourself in the place of a sales person who is waiting for your contract. You are in no hurry, you know you are going to that hotel, you’ll get it signed and sent over soon — but a day can mean the difference between them making their numbers for the month, quarter or year! A contract received on Jan. 1 typically can’t be counted for December. And if there are bonus dollars or a trip to the company’s Presidents’ Club for high achievers at stake, you may be in the drivers seat.
Now, I am not saying that you should hold all agreements until Dec. 31. But larger, more complex contracts, with many moving pieces or a sticking point or become more easily negotiated when you look at your calendar. A concession or two that was not on the table may become an option if you get the contracted signed by a given date. I’ve seen comp rooms, rates, attrition clauses and more change when timing was involved. Please note: Not all sales persons are in a position to make last minute changes, and all salespersons may not need the contracts to make their required or desired numbers, but if you don’t ask, you won’t know.
All this works hand-in-hand with knowing your salesperson, listening to what their needs may be and acting at the right time to secure a fairer deal. Do your homework, make your list of must haves and would like to have’s, look at the calendar and make the call. You must be ready to sign, or this may create a major problem for you, moving forward. No one like to jump through hoops only to find out that you could not live up to your end of the bargain.
Always remember, a great agreement is based on trust and respect … and timing, which tends to be a great motivator.