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Damage Control Advice For When A Vendor Lets You Down

Mar 21, 2017 | Operating Your Company

“Every crisis offers you extra desired power.” — William Moulton Marston

Last Tuesday, we discussed crisis management as if your business let a client down. Today, we’ll explore how to handle damage control when the opposite happens and the vendor fails your business.

Once again, we’ll use the example of a box containing critical, one-time-use contents, that was not delivered correctly to you by a vendor you’d hired.

Let’s say you needed the contents for a presentation or awards ceremony, and now the person you were trying to impress or honor feels the night was a waste of time. Obviously, you should immediately offer your sincerest apologies and let them know you did everything you could in a timely fashion. Prove, without groveling, that the incident occurred for reasons beyond your control. You probably have proof in the form of receipts and agreements that can support that you were on schedule.

Then focus the attention back to the offending vendor-company, which should acknowledge the mishap and immediately offer a refund. If it doesn’t, demand one. The vendor didn’t deliver, literally and figuratively, and so you shouldn’t have to pay for the blunder.

Now you have to assess this relationship.

A new vendor can be dropped pretty easily, assuming there is not much of a pre-existing relationship, and you can move on to someone else. Ask your peers, your network via LinkedIn or a professional group for referrals.

If there was a longstanding history, you need to weigh the track record against the severity of the injury.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Did you lose clients?
  • How badly is your reputation damaged?
  • Did you lose money?

If the answer is yes to at least one of those questions, it may be time to look elsewhere. That could mean voiding or suspending a contract, in which case you could contact us to see to those matters.

If you want to maintain the working relationship with the vendor, then maybe lay some new ground rules. This could include:

  • Renegotiating rates
  • Meeting to re-establish expectations
  • Regular check-ins to ensure goals are being met

Depending on the way you operate your business and how transparently you lead, this may be the chance to address your employees about how this mistake impacts the business. Let them learn from this example of what not to do. By addressing the elephant in the room, you can turn it into a learning experience for your company.

Contact Brinen & Associates if you need to reevaluate a client’s contract and always feel free to share a comment.


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I formerly worked as a satellite employee from my home state of New Jersey. I ended my employment with my former employer in 2016. In 2018, I was sued by my former employer for $1.1 million in Illinois State Court. I was referred to Brinen & Associates, LLC by a friend who is a client of the firm. Brinen & Associates, LLC came highly recommended. I contacted Joshua Brinen and then had a consultation at his office with his colleague Mark White. Together, Messrs. Brinen and White explained my options...

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