I Saw the Crash, Called 911 … Surprisingly, No One Answered

I just wrapped up speaking to a group of amazing business owners. I chose to skip the reception so I could avoid rush hour traffic on the way home. I never expected I’d witness a dramatic car crash on my route.

I was doing the standard periodic glance in my rear view mirror when I saw the gray pickup truck t-bone the silver sedan. Boom! The collision was so loud that it echoed in my head. I cringed as I saw the mangled metal on the driver’s side car door.

​I could feel my heart pounding as I watched both vehicles. The truck driver exited his car first and started walking toward the sedan. The sedan driver had to be injured after that forceful impact. Fortunately, I saw him move. The quick-thinking sedan driver gathered his composure and skillfully moved his car out of the traffic flow. As he opened the car door, I saw chunks of broken glass fall off his clothes to the ground.

​​There were at least 12 other drivers on this four lane road. Do I stop and help or continue home and let someone else assist? As I tried to recall the Colorado Rules of the Road for accidents, I found myself pressing my hazard light button as I drove to him. I purposely blocked a lane of traffic with my car, to guard his car.  I rolled down my passenger window and shouted, “You okay? Are you hurt? Should I call 911?” Without waiting for the answer, I dialed.

I’ll never forget what happened next…

​The line rang 6 times. I glanced down at my iphone thinking maybe I mis-dialed. I never had to call 911 before, so expected the dispatcher to answer on the first or second ring. Why was this taking so long? Finally, the call connected. But it wasn’t a live operator. It was an automated response stating that 911 was helping other callers and would get to my call as soon as possible. The message repeated in Spanish, then several other languages that I didn’t recognize.

​As I waited on hold cycling through these recordings, it felt like forever. What if this had been a truly serious accident and there was a delay in the 911 response? Is this the typical wait time to reach a first responder? Fortunately, neither driver was critically injured to the point where every minute mattered.

Flashback to earlier in my life. I used to have this recurring dream about calling 911. In my dreams, I need help. When I try to call, I either 1) can’t dial the right numbers because the phone keys keep sticking, 2) can’t find the street address to give proper directions to my location, or 3) I can’t get anyone to answer at 911.  I figured this was just a dumb dream that would never happen in real life – just my mind messing with me.

Then, it really happened! My worst nightmare came true. It was just like my dream – no one was reachable when I called for help, and it seemed like eternity. Finally, it was my turn. The call was answered. I provided the crash details and waited with the victims involved until a police officer arrived.

This accident was completely preventable. The truck driver inadvertently missed a street sign and pulled into traffic. He shared that he was highly preoccupied with other things happening in his life. My guess is he was juggling a lot of issues, and none of them was getting his full attention.

How often does this happen in our business? We experience an unexpected crash because we are distracted or we’re not fully present. Maybe you lose a client or referral because you didn’t have time to follow up.  Maybe you are falling behind on your billing, so your cash flow takes a hit. Maybe you commit to doing something for a customer, then forget what you promised.

We all get spread too thin trying to multi-task to get it all done. Balls get dropped and things fall through the cracks. While the stakes aren’t life or death like a car accident, without flow, your business will crash – and you will feel the impact.

Like this car collision, business crashes are preventable. Your business should be simple, easy, fun, and profitable. It should flow with ease. You deserve more automation and less manual oversight, so you can set it and forget it. Implementing systems that do the work for you, are the best way to avoid the ‘crash’.

Systems remove the clutter from your thoughts, so you are free to focus on the important actions.

​Here are three simple systems to help you have more flow in your company regarding meetings, money, and marketing:


1) Meetings – stop the back and forth correspondence when you need to set up a call or in-person conversation. This is time-consuming and highly inefficient. Instead, get an online calendar/booking tool.  I love ScheduleOnce. You can easily set up different event types (phone call, live meeting, coaching sessions, etc.) that allow people to automatically confirm time on your calendar.  It’s so easy!

2) Money – stop the manual invoicing and follow up required to get paid. Instead, let people self pay prior to working with you. Removing the activities required to get paid will put more flow in your company and more money in your bank account.  By sending someone a link to pay via the web or smartphone (PayPal, ecommerce on your website, etc.), you remove the hassle of processing payments. I love Infusionsoft because it combines my internet marketing, CRM, and payment collection into one amazing tool.  It saves me hours each month and is one of my best ‘employees’.

3) Marketing – stop creating your social media posts over and over.  Instead, invest in a scheduling tool that is one and done. The lifespan of a post on social media ranges from a few seconds to a few hours.  To be successful, most posts have to appear multiple times in order to be seen by the majority of your followers. It’s time consuming to repost. Instead, use an automated tool like CoSchedule than can drip your posts out multiple times for you. Schedule once, then automatically re-post many times on multiple channels. You will love how much time this saves you in managing your social media.

These simple tips will help you automate more of your company so you can avoid those unexpected business crashes that can set you back.  It’s all about flow.

I can’t erase the pictures of the crash from my mind. Maybe they will fade in time. I’m just glad no one was seriously hurt, and that I was able to help.  Next time, maybe I should stick around for the reception and let the rush hour traffic dissolve.

Please share and leave a comment about these ideas.

Nancy Gaines

Nancy Gaines is CEO/Founder of Gain Advantages Inc. and has been advising small businesses and Fortune 100 companies how to increase revenues through proven systems for almost two decades. She is a best-selling author and international keynote speaker. Nancy has been named in the Top 100 Productivity Experts to follow on Twitter and has a global podcast downloaded in over 70 countries. Her main focus is creating business processes with actionable steps so her clients achieve more consistency, ease, and ultimate success.

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