Like any business, screw-ups do happen from time to time, I can’t think of a business that doesn’t have them! They are endlessly frustrating when they happen especially when you look back at what happened and saw how some of the issues that popped-up were actually forming themselves just beyond your horizons and you only noticed them when they were right in front of you!
You might have noticed a new heading on our main website CNCROi.com called Quality Assurance. The WORSE thing a company or employee can do is trying to hide a mistake or screw-up from management or far worse, your client! It’s very difficult to admit something went wrong but I have a very strict policy here at CNCROi.com that when they do happen, you will be notified immediately!
With all my business and my life in general, I always try to improve upon something on a daily basis, whether that’s upgrading a tool in the shop, ordering more inventory when stuff gets low (yes, having inventory is an improvement over none or not enough) or even reviewing our financials to see which verticals we should approach, if you aren’t improving, you are going backwards.
The sooner an issue is revealed, the faster a solution can be found with minimal disruption to a project. We work incredibly hard here on process to try to minimize and eliminate issues before they can rear their evil head but sometimes SHIT HAPPENS and I believe that it’s what you do after the fact that shows true character and passion to a client.
I pride myself with not letting anything bad leave the shop without me knowing about it or the client before I go visit them, the last thing a client needs is a surprise “shit happens” with an invoice asking for money upon delivery. I hate when people do that to me and refuse to do that to others. You’ll not only get an e-mail and/or phone call about the issue but photographs and even video where relevant. Yes, this might sound crazy, but having the customer fully aware of an issue is vitally important for building trust and being able to effectively deal with the issue.
This Wooden Wheels took weeks to design and build… only to discover it doesn’t move very well because wood on wood friction on the back AFTER you sit on it is too hard to overcome, don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere! This was maddening but nothing compared to the following case study. That being said, I was honest about my Wooden Wheels material selection mistake and this photo got published around the world in magazines regardless!
We had one client recently where we had widgets that needed corporate branding, it was a great project on some really nice material but as “luck” would have it, our CNC laser lens got loose (not locked in properly) and two of them got screwed-up (5% of the order). One was almost unnoticeable and I could have “passed it through” but the other was more obvious – I documented both.
What I did was take a picture, explain to the client what happened and told them I’d come see them first thing in the morning – it was 10 pm. I told them to credit my purchase order against the order they were giving to their client for the mistake, took full responsibility and offered to do whatever was necessary to make the situation right including paying out of my pocket for two new widgets to be made. These were custom machined widgets, not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but I introduced a headache in their supply chain and it was squarely on me to make it right!
I was pissed, it’s one thing to screw-up on your own projects but quite another with somebody elses widget and I knew the client wouldn’t be happy either. Our stuff is permanent, which is a blessing but also a curse. I take my reputation very seriously and trust clients give to us with utmost regard and in this case, the results weren’t want I promised.
Reputations are hard to build, easy to destroy
At the end of the day, business is about reputation. A client trusts you with their goods and expects you to deliver what you promised. This is critical and vitally important… screw this up and you might as well go out of business as bad news spreads fast. Not only do you lose on future business with a client if you try to pull a sheet over their eyes but they will tell others and the circles CNCROi.com is targeting are rather tight and small.
Your reputation is all you have in business!