Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

How to Cancel With Class

As much as I try to avoid canceling commitments, it happens on occasion. We accidentally double book a lunch appointment or fail to calendar a meeting. Unexpected deadlines pop up. It happens.

This week, I missed a meeting. Not good. I was in Houston and just did not get back in time. Worse, I failed to give advance warning.

I will have some explaining to do, but I can just about guarantee my relationship with the meeting originators will be enhanced because I took the time to really explain, and made an effort to make it right.

A few things I try to remember in this situation:

  • Don’t be cavalier.
  • Be honest about your reasons.
  • Give ample time if you cannot make the meeting. The farther in advance, the better. (This week, I didn’t do this.)
  • Pick up the phone. Instead of playing the email message game, call first, let the tone of your voice speak for itself, and follow up with an email if you can’t connect.

About once or twice a year, I will totally miss an appointment with someone coming to see me. When this happens, I offer to come to their office the next time. It makes a difference in the relationship for sure.



Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.