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My Car, a Ditch and a Lasting Impression - Real Life Example

Tags: customer, leads, leadership, management
My Car, a Ditch and a Lasting Impression - Real Life Example

I had a rather different experience this week so I thought it would be interesting to write about it as I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned in here somewhere.


Last Thursday I travelled from Tactical Towers to a new business meeting with some prospects I’d never met before. 5.00am I set off from not-so-sunny Poole and embarked on the 3 hour journey to Cheltenham.  I love driving, it’s something I’ve got a real passion for so travelling around the UK consulting and winning business for TST is basically my dream job.  Anyway, 9.30am was the start time for the meeting.


The venue, a hotel just off the M5. Easy.


Having successfully completed 99.99% of my journey, as I approached the hotel, I turned right instead of making a left towards the hotel which took me down a rather narrow lane.  Whilst carefully completing a 5 point turn in the only small pull-in area I could find, I ended up reversing my car straight into a ditch, just 200 meters from my meeting.


With the rear of my car stuck in the small, wet, muddy ditch and the chassis on one side resting on the floor, all the rear wheels could do was spin, digging ever more secure holes for themselves spraying quantities of mud into the hedges behind them.


Time to get creative, only 15 minutes until the meeting….


Initially I conducted a quick search of the hedges lining the road and managed to find some old paving slabs which I quite ingeniously thought might help me get enough traction to power my way out if I could somehow get them under the wheels.


Apparently not.


Apparently the laws of physics prohibit such methods.  Inadvertently, all I’d done was create a paving slab launcher which did nothing except destroy the local flora and fauna as it shot various abandoned building supplies from under the wheels at the 50mph.


That’s not all.


In the process of that not working, so much thick smoke appeared and I was genuinely convinced I must have set a tyre and the area around it on fire.  Moments of further panic gripped me since I couldn’t move the car from what I thought was going to evolve into a fireball so I responded by splashing a nearby puddle over the wheel  ruining a rather nice pair of brand new shoes and covering my car in filth in the process.


Uh oh…


At this point, my meeting was only 10 or so minutes away from starting, I’m still only 200 meters from where I’m supposed to be and my hearts pounding at a million miles an hour.  Surely you can’t just abandon the car blocking the road and save the embarrassment can you?  (No you can’t by the way).


Time to call the AA I think!  Amidst it all I suddenly found myself taking a very brief pause and wondering to myself if I should sometimes even be allowed out in public, let alone behind the wheel of a car.  Nonetheless it was crunch time, I had to call my prospect and explain the situation, which I’m not going to lie, was a tad embarrassing.


Essentially, what I had been quite successful in creating, was a laugh or cry moment for myself.


As one of my prospects turned up and hopped out of his car, I can't even begin to imagine what he must have been thinking.  None the less, it was somewhat of an icebreaker!  I had to laugh at the situation no matter how flustered I may have been but I was extremely fortunate that A) he was a very good bloke B) he revealed he had a tow rope with him and C) he had a powerful 4 wheel drive car which he was able to use to pull me out of the ditch!


Once rescued, we drove the 200 metres down to the hotel (without hiccup in case you wondering) and went in and grabbed some coffees.  Shortly after my prospects business partner arrived to be met by me, covered in mud from head to toe, red faced and a bit unsettled.  I know what I’d have been thinking… Exactly the same as they were…  ‘If he gets his car stuck in a ditch on his way to the meeting what’s he going to be like to work with!’


I’d like to point out that this was an isolated incident and I’m usually quite good at not driving into ditches.


Or rivers, lakes and any other such potential drive in hazards.  (I have 3 years no claims I’ll have you know :D)


Not the best first impression, but as my prospect pointed out, he’s probably not likely to forget me any time soon!  In a funny kind of way it might have even helped me build Champions because I’m pleased to say that despite my ‘little incident’, we did win a deal and are really looking forward to working with those guys.


So if you’re looking for a creative way to remembered by your prospect remember one thing.  There are better ways to do it than this ;-)!




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Pete Stuckey



Jarmila Halovsky-Yu says: Posted: February 26th, 2013
Nice Nissan 350z. Doh! Next time just do a handbrake turn. That should work.

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