Arthur sent me a message recently.

“Are you interested in receiving a professional janitorial quote for your business space? I’d be happy to schedule a site visit and give you a complimentary, no-obligation cleaning quote. Have a great day!”

I have never heard of Arthur or his business. Arthur knows nothing about me or my business.

If Arthur had any hope of winning my business, he would have learned something about me first. He would have done a little research. Undoubtedly you have received countless “Arthur” type messages – a blind pitch with no advanced research.

The message from him reminded me of meeting some small business owners on a recent flight. Lisa and her husband Mark own a small attraction in East Tennessee. But they were flying to Southern California to spend an entire week to research their industry. Their mission was to visit several attractions to learn about their operations and bring back some of the best ideas to improve their business. Lisa told me that they would look at everything. They would examine the lighting; they would pay attention to the signage; they would carefully watch the flow of traffic inside the park and ease of entry. Not even trash containers, green space, parking, merchandise branding, employee name tags, and park communication would go unexamined. Most importantly they would talk to customers and ask them about their experience.

Even though they have high ratings from their visitors, Mark and Lisa invest in trips like this every year to continue to stay competitive in a market that has many similar entertainment options nearby.

Several years ago, while working for a luxury ocean front resort property, I was fortunate to visit several Five Star/Five Diamond hotels to do exactly what Mark and Lisa are doing: research. In my case, it was research before developing training and service systems to help the resort obtain the coveted Five Diamond award.

To be successful in any business, it’s important to spend time preparing before you execute. Whether you are pitching prospective clients or developing new business practices, good preparation makes the difference between success and failure.

Don’t be like Arthur.

Prepare before you pitch.

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