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Do the Thing On Time Written for 'Agricultural Advertising by Waldo Pondray Warren
Copyright, 1907, by Waldo Pondray Warren
AKE way for the rush job!
Get busy on this ! We have only
twenty minutes to do it in. We'll have to slap it through some way, so here goes !
And so it goes a thousand times.
Why is it a “rush job”? Almost invariably it is so for just one reasonbecause some one has let wait until the last minute.
And that person is usually some one who has very little excuse except the habit of procrastination. Furthermore he is usually a person who is safe from criticism—the boss, the manager, the head of the business, or someone like that. For woe betide the third assistant who lets something drag along that should not! That's the exclusive privilege of the boss-and he'd have you know it.
But the fact that the delay emanates from the boss does not make any difference in the results—the regular work has to wait and the rush job has to be slapped through some way. The only hope of reforming the situation is to show the boss where he loses out when he holds his work back until the time is too short.
It is not within the province of either the assistant worker or the other firm to whom the work is assigned, to make a complaint-the one might lose his job, and the other might lose patronage, if he were presumed to tell the boss that he ought to hurry up.
But that's one of the beautiful things which lie clearly within the province of literature-you can tell anybody what he ought to do, and he has to take it.
This is my chance to talk to the boss who procrastinates. I am not going to abuse the worthy gentleman, however.
I merely mean to point out some of the reasons why it is to his interest to pass the work along as quickly as he caneven if he is not especially interested in the interests of others.
One place where procrastination is rife is in advertising in all its formsgetting the material ready, writing the copy, getting it to the printer, getting the proofs read, getting the drawings made, getting the etchings made, selecting the stock, and many such things.
It is one of the paradoxes of business that one of the things which involves the expenditure of a great deal of money, and which has one of the greatest infuences on the business, should so often be considered a matter of secondary importance-something to look after if we have time, something to be left until everything else is taken care of.
Here's a space in a publication, worth fifty dollars. You took that space every month for a year because you thought it would pay you. Tomorrow is the day for that form to go to press-but your copy is not in. You got a letter a week ago from the advertising agent or publication reminding you of the new copy you said you wanted to run. sentative also called on you three days ago-waited around for an hour to see you, just to remind you that your copy was needed. You spindled the letter and forgot about it-a whole week yet, why should you hurry?
You told the man you'd have the copy next day--but down in your heart you didn't mean it, because you knew there were still three days till the very last call.
You even asked him to come back for it next day-shame on you! But perhaps you did think that you might pos
sibly get around to it. He came back at the appointed time in high hopes of getting it-you'd given your word. But he wasted another hour waiting around to see you, only to be put off again. Tomorrow, surely, you'd have it if he'd call then. But when he comes it isn't ready-you really haven't thought of it. Just have him wait a minute and you'll fix it.
You finish the letter you are dictating, chat with one or two persons on the telephone, admit one or two other callers into your office-but he's still waiting, mind you. Finally you do get at it -you'll just dash off something for that advertisement. Really you
very sorry to keep him waiting. Guess after all you'd better take a little more time to think it over. Better tell him not to wait any longer-your thoughts don't seem to flow just right today.
The next day, just as you are on the point of going out, and have your mind full of another proposition, the telephone bell rings. That copy—the last call! Going to press this afternoonleaving a hole in the form. Simply must have the copy by noon or run the old copy over again.
Then you respond. Quick! Hand me that pad! Here, where's that scrap book of old advertisements? Ah, this one will do—just change "summer” to "winter” and make that “heavy" instead of "light."
Ah, that was a find! Here, boy, take this over to that man and tell him to make a good advertisement out of it, and send me a proof right away.
When your copy reaches the publication office the men are looking for it. But they can't touch it just yet, because they are busy setting a dozen other late ones that have come in within an hour. You are not only late, but you must take your turn with the late ones.
Finally they get to yours, and there's just twenty minutes left. They telephone you that you can't see a prooftime's too short, and they know you'd keep it till next day, and then want
some changes, perhaps a new advertisement. They set it up as best they can in the time that's left-omitting the border, for that takes too long.
But it costs you fifty dollars just the
Now, that is just one instance. Multiply it by several hundred and you see what the agent, the magazine, newspaper, printer, artist, engraver,
and paper house have to contend with all the time.
But take your own business-multiply that one instance by everything you do in that manner, and see what must be the total effect. It means that you get the tag ends of everything. It is like going to a remnant sale the last day, after shrewd bargain hunters have picked over the pile for a week, and being obliged to pay for what you find the same price you would have to pay if you selected the goods from the whole piece, and from a full assortment of fresh, new goods.
That's where you get your retribution for unnecessary delay-you get what's left. Your assistants may not be in a position to call you down for the delay, and your printer and publisher may not think it good policy to say all they think -but you get your punishment in a form more severe than anything they might say to you.
It's nice to be where you are not afraid of getting called down for letting things go-but remember that your responsibility is correspondingly greater, and that the welfare of your business is a check on you at least.
It may not be amiss to point out also the moral responsibility of being on time. Most people admit that stealing is wrong, and they wouldn't do it for the world. You wouldn't so much as take a postage stamp that belonged to some one else. Your conscience would bother you if you did. And yet, if you stop to think of it, there are other ways of stealing besides taking the cash out of the till.
The man who neglects to do his part
on time and causes a delay which means a loss of time and money to other men, would have a hard time proving that he is not breaking the eighth commandment.
And one thing is certain—if some other person caused the delay, and you were the one to suffer for it, you'd admit very quickly that it was wrong-a plain, common, every-day moral wrong-stealing your time and money. It may be painful to you to hear it said so plainly, but the fact is that it is just as wrong when you do it to the other fellow.
Some time ago a furnishing store was to move to a new location. A fixture house had contracted to furnish the fixtures by a certain time, and a glass manufacturer had promised to help them keep their agreement by furnishing some glass for the show cases by a certain day.
A shoe store was to move in where the furnishing store had been. There
a schedule made out, telling just what things would have to be done by a certain time, and all would have gone on like clock-work if the glass man had kept his promise. But it was a small order for him, and he disregarded his promise.
For weeks the glass was not forthcoming. The furnishing store could not
move in till the fixtures were ready, and the shoe store could not move till the furnishing store got out of the way, and all the various contractors who had been engaged to put the two places in shape could not get at their work. There was much confusion, delay, and loss.
Finally the furnishing store was compelled to move to its new location without glass in its fixtures, and the best part of the season passed by without being in shape to invite the public. The loss was heavy all around.
Investigation showed that there was no defensible reason for the delay of the glass manufacturer-it was simply a bit of unreliability and procrastination. But it took thousands of dollars out of the pockets of other men.
It was just as bad as stealing it with a mask over your eyes—and if you
had been the furnishing goods man or the shoe man you would have said so, too. But being the glass man, you prefer to pull the mask down over your responsibility--to excuse yourself, and shift the blame on someone else.
Procrastination is more than the thief of time—it's the thief of money, and opportunity—and every man who has a habit of procrastinating should recognize the classification.