It happens. Every once in awhile something goes wrong. Either there is an issue with a table we made for a client, I underestimated shipping costs on an order, typos in emails... Humans aren't perfect. But isn't it just the worst when you mess up?
I have always had really bad side effects from getting in trouble or making a mistake, ever since I was little. That horrible sick feeling in your stomach. Wanting to avoid your phone or emails because it is literally painful to see that client's name pop up. Feeling like a total failure.
"What will they say??? How angry are they? We are just crap and don't know what we are doing."
But thankfully I have grown a little over the years to know that dealing with a mistake is like ripping off a bandaid. Rip off that bandaid! Acknowledge it is going to be a horrific week. Deal with it as soon as possible. You just have to push through it and then you can try to forget about it after a few weeks.
Recently there was an issue with a leg on one of the benches Chris made. It was our first real big commercial order making a custom design. Chris made 3 sets. And somehow on the last set, he changed the construction slightly. He didn't even realize it was different. But that change made the back leg wobble. So after seeing the email, discussing with Chris (who handled it oh so well), we made a plan. And then revised our plan. And then revised our plan again.
What to Do:
- Make it a Priority. Get back to the client ASAP with just "Apologies, I got your email, working on it." That shows that you are also upset, that you are committed to fixing the mistake ASAP and buys you some time to figure it out.
- Make the Plan. Easier said than done. With most things I usually have 2-3 options we can choose.
- Make it Right. Do whatever it takes to fix your mistake.
- Make it Personal. Whether it is face to face, over the phone, a discount or a gift.
After a day of back and forth, going to Home Depot to realize that they didn't have the right welder to rent. wrapping my brain around that Chris used gas welding vs flux welding... making an emergency call to Frankie our welder (who broke our hearts and moved to Maine) to assure us that Chris could flux weld, going back to Home Depot to rent the flux welder, finding someone to watch Evie while we did the repair (thanks Dad!).
And you know what? It wasn't all that bad. Chris was able to repair the benches on site. I was his handy assistant and moral support. We were able to inspect the other tables and benches and see how they were holding up in the summer sun and thunderstorms. (other than the leg issue, pretty good).
The client was super cool about it and made us both relax. He was so cool that I followed up with a bottle of whiskey to thank him for his patience.
Lesson of the Year:
We are going to make mistakes. We try not to of course, but it happens. What matters is that we are able to communicate with the client and correct our mistakes.
BONUS: Chris can now Flex Weld... so there's that right?