Time management: How many times can you be late to a business meeting?


A couple of years ago I wrote about being late to a business appointment http://www.thebusinessbloggingnetwork.com/2012/09/so-what-does-being-late-to-a-business-appointment-say-about-you/ and what it says about you and how it could impact on your relationship with the person you are meeting. Today’s events have led me to revisit this issue.

I was asked by a very good business friend to have a meeting with a public sector organisation. We set a date for them to come to a meeting at our offices. I postponed other fee-paying meetings and made sure the meeting room was ready for the meeting and we had refreshments available. 20 minutes after the meeting was supposed to start I got a text saying the other party was stuck in a meeting and could we postpone. While this was inconvenient I understand that these things can happen. However, I personally would have contacted someone earlier so they can free up as much time as possible so it can be useful.

After a few days they contacted me to rearrange, only to state; “ I can fit you in after another couple of meetings this day”. We refused the meeting, stating that it was too late in the day and with the evidence of time keeping we didn’t think setting anything after another meeting was a good idea. I also pointed out that as a business owner the business’s income is reliant on our time available to the business and having already lost an afternoons income I wasn’t prepared to waste any more.

Eventually we settled on meeting at 9.30 one morning. Supposedly the individuals first meeting of the day. After a phone call saying they were stuck in traffic and would be no more than 5 mins late they eventually arrived 25 mins late; for an hours meeting!! They then looked very put out when I said we had to wrap the meeting up at 10.35 as I had another meeting to go to that I wasn’t prepared to be late for.

So was I right to feel that the individual wasn’t taking my business and my time seriously? Or should I have let them eat into my next meeting time? How does it make you feel when people are late? And I don’t mean by a couple of minutes or when there’s been an accident or road closure. I mean when they haven‘t bothered to prioritise your meeting with them or plan their journey properly. And what do you do when they next ask to meet you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.