Steve Martin’s first huge comedy album was called, “Let’s Get Small.”  I think that title is actually great advice for a business, particularly a big company.  Because I find that the bigger they are, the worse they are at the small, but really important things that make it easier to do a deal with them.  And I was just reminded of that fact recently.

I’ve been putting together “The Ultimate Business Celebrity Mastermind” – an elite Mastermind group for some of my top clients, where we’ll travel around the country together and experience some things that usually only entertainment celebrities get to experience while also working with each other to build everyone’s businesses using a wide array of strategies that are working right now across multiple industries.  As part of the package, I’m also including some really special Celebrity Events, two of which have been locked down for a white, the Grammys in L.A and the Kentucky Derby.  Pretty cool, right?

The problem was that these events were so cool that, when it came to putting together the third and final Celebrity Event for the year, I wanted to make sure it could hold its own and didn’t look like a weak excuse for a celebrity event!

Since I do live in Orlando, and since I actually do have a family I like to see occasionally, I thought it would be nice to set up one of the events here.  And there is a bunch of cool stuff to do in Orlando that is a great mix of business and entertainment, so I contacted a venue that I thought might work for this new Mastermind group.

But, again, since the Grammy night has bumped everything up a few levels, I wanted to make sure this place could deliver something special on their end.  So I called my usual contact, who transferred my call to a really knowledgeable colleague.  I was very upfront and said I needed something with the “Wow” factor to really make this work – and that she was, in effect, competing with Las Vegas, which was my other choice for a Celebrity Event site. 

Anyway, she was very, very helpful and indicated she would work with me on making the event happen and at a magnitude that I’d be happy with.  She’d email me contact details and we could go from there.  Awesome.

Except this is where the problem started.  She never sent the email.  Instead, a week or so later, she called and left a voicemail with another colleague on the line – again, it sounded like these folks were all over this and ready to make it happen.   She ended the message by saying I should call her back at a phone number with a very long extension attached to it, which in corporate America is not very unusual.  What I usually do is just call back the number on caller ID and ask for the person I’d like to speak with instead of using the extension, mostly because I’m often driving or traveling when I return calls and I don’t have the best circumstances to stop and take notes!  I looked at my iPhone for the caller ID – because, normally, I just hit the button that instantly calls back the person who left a message – and the number pops up on my screen as “Not Disclosed.”   

A private number. In the words of many a comic book character, “What th-!”

I thought about the business associate I have in New Zealand.  I can even push the callback button to get him on the line!   And, at that moment, I didn’t have time to listen to her message again, write down a whole long of string numbers that probably would have taken two or three tries to get right and call the person back. 

And so I kept the message, and kept meaning to find a time to call them back when I could write down the number.

In the meantime, I had continued to explore the Vegas option, which looked better and better as time went on.  If she called back or sent me the email with her contact info in it, I would certainly still give the Orlando venue a fair shake, but my time was wearing thin!  As I was working on the logistics of a vegas trip that would be both educational and entertaining, I hit the motherload!  I was able to connect through a friend with Tony Hsieh, the billionaire CEO of Zappo’s, the online shoe selling phenomenon, and he agreed to host our Mastermind group at the Zappo’s facility in Vegas and do an in depth brainstorm and Q & A, revealing some of the secrets that made him the mogul he is today.  That’s Grammy-caliber to business people and exactly the kind of event I was looking for.  Orlando, sadly, was left on the outside looking in.

Don’t get me wrong – this venue is not about to go under because they didn’t host our Mastermind group.  But they did end up missing out on tens of thousands of dollars worth of business – because they didn’t make it easy for me to get back in touch with them.

Which is surprising – on almost all counts, because the staff at this venue excels at customer service, they’ve always been great in the past.  But the private phone number mistake is just the kind of little mistake a big company like that might not ever notice and correct.

When it comes to our own businesses, I think the mantra needs to be, as I said at the beginning of this piece, “Let’s Get Small.”  We all think our own customer service is top quality, but are all our systems really seamless?  Are we really making it as easy as possible for our clients and customers to connect and do business with us?  Are sales phone calls being handled correctly by the people answering them?  Or, worst of all, are calls from interested prospects just getting lost or unanswered?

Yes, the Orlando venue made a mistake.  Let’s not make the same one with our own operations.  Otherwise, after we’ve lost a big client, we might end up like they did, wondering why the phone isn’t ringing!