Recently, I got a chance to run over to my camp near Eagle Lake, MS. My “Red Roof” cabin is one of my favorite getaways to recharge. It had been an unusually brutal and busy few weeks so this opportunity had me very excited. The weather was still warm so I knew as soon as I got the cabin swept out and stocked, I was headed straight to Paw Paw Bridge where the water flows out of the chute and back into the primary river system. This bridge can offer some of the best crappie fishing, which you might know is my favorite hobby.
It was late in the afternoon with about an hour until dark. Sure enough, after racing around the cabin, I grabbed my jig poles, tackle box and headed to the bridge about a mile away down a wooded gravel lane. As I was riding towards the bridge, I realized none of my poles had been rerigged with new line. Fishing line, after it is used extensively, stretched or is exposed to the sun and elements, gets weak. I knew I needed to take five minutes and rerig at least two poles (a lesson I should have learned in this blog). But I thought, heck, this line is okay.
So as I got to the bridge, I quickly assembled my jig pole, stuck a crappie nibble on and away we go—I am fishing! Dropped my jig in the water and let it bounce off the bottom once or twice then held it steady. Thump! The first drop I caught a nice three-quarter pound crappie.
At this point, fishermen have what I refer to as the moment of insanity because after just starting and having a fish on the line immediately, we are thinking, “I’m going to kill them today, hope my ice chest is big enough!” So after gazing at my ice chest, I drop it in again, as soon as it touches bottom and I give it a little jiggle—bam, another fish. And wow, this fish has some size. As I get the fish to the top of the water, I see that it is close to a two-pounder, I gave my pole another tug to start to raise the beautiful crappie out of the water when SPLASH! He went back in as my line broke. I wanted to cry. Why break on that fish? How unlucky is that? But, did luck have anything to do with it?
The brutal reality is that I had chosen to use my old line instead of taking time to rerig my pole. How often do we make these same choices when serving our existing clients. Do we run out to meet with them unprepared?
“Oh they know us, I’m like part of their family. All I need to do is ask them what’s going on.”
“They are only interested in services we have always provided them. They will call if they want anything else.”
“They are not doing anything big. They are watching expenses this year.”
“They just want me to come by and visit, it’s all about relationship. They just want to see me.”
How often do we meet with them and use our same old lines?
“How’s it going? We have this year's engagement letter ready.”
“Have you booked last year’s adjustments?”
“We will send out a recap on any tax reform.”
“Just wanted to take a moment and let you know we appreciate you and your business. Maybe we can catch up for lunch soon.”
“Hope to see you at the game. Call me if you need anything. I don't see a lot of change from last year’s work.”
By being unprepared and using tired old lines, are we at high risk of losing some of our two-pounders? At risk that someone else will catch the big project while we walk around with our accountant's tackle box full of old lines? It’s time for us to rerig with anticipatory skills, collaboration and redefining reality for our clients. We need to be having better conversations to be relevant. Let’s get those two-pounders in the net. Prepare for and demonstrate how important they really are. Relationships matter but they fade in business when the conversations are not relevant. Our old lines need to go.