A Supplier Loses It!
What is worth noting is how each side responded. Amazingly, I was very calm. I hate taking a loss, but thankfully, business is pretty good and I can absorb it, as painful as it is. I responded:
To avoid mistakes like this we always include our usual text with the work order:
Please check this work order over, make sure it's correct, sign and fax or e-mail back with your approval so we can proceed with production.
When we receive a signed, approved work order, we assume that the client has looked at the order and that what they approved is correct. Mistakes do happen as we see here, which is why we have this double check process in place.
Nevertheless, we will take care of this. If you can use the large shirts at a reduced cost, that would be greatly appreciated.
I wasn't sure how this would turn out, but was prepared to eat the whole mistake. Normally in these situations an adjustment can be made for the wrong size shirts to offset the loss. We had an e-mail conversation and in the process, I kept a calm, professional demeanor despite my client not wanting to take any responsibility for her part in approving the order. Ultimately, we came to a reasonable resolution we were both comfortable with and will continue to do business together in the future.
In business, when things go wrong, it can be an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. That's what happened with my shirt mishap. The client appreciated the way I handled the situation and our relationship has grown. The supplier who reacted irrationally... will probably never get any business from me.
How we communicate with the marketplace is key to our success. Suppliers and distributors should consider conveying information that has some value whether it's via e-mail or social media. Suppliers who send the "Visit Us in Booth 1234" type pre-show e-mails that people may opt out from lose the opportunity to send more meaningful communications in the future.