Like many busy people (er, isn’t that everybody?) we all need to call on someone to help us from time to time. Electricians and plumbers save us from all kinds of disasters (which is why they are so expensive...,) restaurants save us from grumpy teenagers or frazzled husbands (which is worse?), and cleaners help save us from meltdowns!
But how often have you needed to get hold of a qualified or trustworthy person to help you, and been unable to find their contact details? How frustrating is that (whilst the water is pouring onto the floor in the laundry...?) So, time to get organised and prepare for the possibility of needing a tradie or professional in a pinch.
Often, contact details for worthy individuals are the kind of things that we find accumulating around the telephone pad in our client’s kitchens, or stashed in a drawer together going nowhere. You know, that collection of business cards and scraps of paper that you never know quite where to put. And, when Uncle Brian tells you about his fab mechanic, you sound enthusiastic and mean to get their number, but, well, the car is working fine just now, isn’t it?
So, we’re here to help you sort this out and get you referral network in shape. It’s actually easy, you’ll be glad you did, and who knows – you may be able to help a friend out one day by recommending the florist that did the arrangements for your son-in-law’s birthday:
Step one: gather together all of the business cards, scraps of paper, restaurant take-away menus, torn-out Yellow Pages (who did that?) and anything else you have on hand which identifies a must-have individual for your services directory. Go through them and weed out any you can’t remember, you didn’t like or want, or someone else gave to you and you can’t recall why. You are left with the backbone of your system. We will allow you to put this pile aside for a moment (only a moment) – have you heard of the Get Organised Boot Camp? Actually, that’s not a bad idea...
Step two: Create a hanging file in your filing cabinet, entitled ‘Service Providers’ on the Crystal Tab, and within it, place 3 Manilla folders, one marked Restaurants, one marked Trades, and one Professional.
We are not generally in favour of ‘tossing’ stuff into folders, and NEVER let ourselves use headings like ‘Miscellaneous’ or ‘Etc.’. No, No, No! However, in this instance, I am going to whisper ‘neatly place all of your restaurant take-away pamphlets into the relevant Manilla folder, and replace into the Service Providers hanging file’.
You may consider placing your collection of business cards into the relevant folders, however I MUST urge you to seriously consider taking a few moments to input the relevant data onto a ‘Service Provider Checklist’ which you can create on a spreadsheet. You will only have to do this once, and it will save you time when you need to access your database. Note down the relevant Business name, individual’s name, phone number, email address and perhaps address if you plan to send a cheque or visit the workplace.
Step three: Remember to immediately put any relevant cards into the folder or, in a perfect world, input the data, each time you receive information for your very valuable bank of service providers.
Et voila! Next time the plumbing sends you running, you'll know exactly where to go!