Squirrel wars

Look way up. There’s a determined squirrel trying to breach my roof.

Years ago, writing for a company that shall be nameless prompted me to start each day by updating my voice mail message. Company Xers were the worst at having a generic voice mail message, and I would find out days later that someone I needed to speak with was actually on vacation for two weeks. To this day, I let callers know whether I am in the office all day and able to respond promptly, or if meetings will get in the way.

That feeling of frustration Company X gave me has flooded back. I’ve contacted several small businesses to explore whether they provide a service I need. Days have gone by and they have not called or emailed me back.

Am I being unrealistic, to expect that someone running a business should respond promptly to a request for information?

I’m not expecting to set up a meeting within half an hour. I am expecting that the business will get in touch within, say, a day or two, to respond that my message got through and:

  • I’m sorry but I don’t provide the service you want. (“Here’s another company that can help you” would be a great addition to this statement.)
  • I do provide that service, but am extremely busy and unlikely to get to you until [insert day/month].
  • I do provide that service, and would love to talk.
  • Can we set up a time to meet?

Is that too much to ask?

In the meantime, several potential knights in shining armour are not answering the call:

  • The persistent squirrel pictured above has been back every day, determined to breach a blocked hole in the eaves of my house. The race is on. Can I get the hole repaired before the furry rodent succeeds?
  • I’d like to start a bathroom renovation. I know renovators are busy; can I get on the schedule?
  • Later this month, I’m landing in one city and trying to book a ride to another. If that doesn’t work, I’ll need to book a flight, and time is running out.

A 2010 study done for Industry Canada found that 30% of small businesses won’t survive longer than two years, and after five years, we can expect a failure rate in the range of 50%.

Maybe poor responsiveness explains the high rate of failure in small businesses. What do you think?