Some days, things don’t get off to a great start (or end). Late last night, when I pulled the laptop out of its case, I discovered a painful problem — a cracked screen, making the machine virtually impossible to use.
The computer has become the essential lifeblood tool of this business. Of course, I’ve learned to keep data backups, but even a day without the equipment to do my work would cause serious delays and problems. So, the focus shifted from running the business — and even blogging on the regular morning schedule — to solving the computer problem.
First stop, the Apple store downtown, where (by appointment set last night) a technician quickly determined the problem’s cause and the solution — a screen replacement. Apple’s fee: About $500 — plus three to five days.
Through Googling, I had discovered a local shop that offered to fix MacIntosh displays for as little as $150 — and in a day. So, I went there. Night and day, from the high-rent, sophisticated Apple Store, to the second floor computer shop in a less-than-beautiful building on the other end of town. The work would cost $270.00, the owner told me, and might be completed on the same day. An hour later, he told me the “bad news” — he needed to order the part, and it would be tomorrow evening before my computer could be repaired.
Alas, I depend on the machine. Would I need to purchase a new computer for upwards of $2,000, and then spend several hours on data back-up, just to get back in business in a timely manner? The low-rent computer repair shop owner offered an alternative: He could sell me a used MacBook Pro for $400.
Then, when I showed up to purchase the new machine, expecting to use my back-up drive to restore the data, he suggested that he could remove the hard disk from my broken computer, load it into the replacement machine, and I could be functioning virtually as normal in 10 minutes. True to his word, he delivered a functioning machine. (This thoughtful approach deserves a bonus hyperlink to Laptop Clinic Ottawa.com http://www.laptopclinicottawa.ca – and yes, this business gets most of its customers through search engine inquiries.)
However, as I waited to get my computer back in operation, I needed to resolve a rather serious problem with an unhappy client from our own business. Our sales representative last summer had set up a feature about a signficant building project, and sold a quarter-page advertisement to the electrical sub-contractor.
Trouble is, the sub-contractor thought we had the clearance from the project’s general contractor (while we actually had clearance from the architect and owner). Our sales representative proposed that we could add value to the advertisement by taking a picture of the electrical contractor’s site crew. He set up to meet the contractor, and take the picture.
Unfortunately, here, the stories diverge. The electrical contractor thought we had consent and sign off from general contractor to visit the site — and apparently took my sales representative on site to take the picture. Alas, my sales representative never registered with the general contractor to visit the site — and the owner had imposed non-disclosure rules on both the the general and sub-contractors. So the sales representative should never have visited the site AND, most definitely, never taken the picture in a secure area.
When the electrical contractor discovered the breach, he asked us not to publish the photo. We didn’t. But we published the feature, after review from the owner and architect. We then invoiced the electrical contractor for his quarter-page advertisement.
Yesterday, our company’s part time accounts collection employee tried to get the money for the long-overdue ad from the electrical contractor. She heard words like “scam” and “we’ll pay this invoice but never do business with you again” and decided I should handle the call. Listening to the electrical contractor, I could see clearly how he felt he had been mistreated and how we had violated his trust. Listening to our sales representative (who hasn’t been known to screw up), I could see how the misunderstanding could legitimately have occurred.
I didn’t hesitate to cancel the invoice. Without tape recorded conversations — and because the electrical contractor doesn’t want the owner or general contractor to know about the security breach — I can’t tell if his story is quite in line with my sales representative, or not, so I’ll accept the sales representative’s interpretation. Maybe both are wrong, maybe both are right — things aren’t always as they seem, especially after three months — but I certainly wouldn’t offend or doubt our client, while I will respect our employee and how he could have been caught innocently in the wrong place at the wrong time.
These stories show some of the challenges in business and marketing. Obviously, Laptop Clinic Ottawa.com got it right — they used the correct marketing method (paid Google ads plus great SEO) to ensure the client-in-need discovered them; and then they presented a solution that met my urgent needs, saved me some money, and resulted in an additional $400 sale.
Meanwhile, we wrote off a $650 order, which we could have “enforced” if we wished. However, sometimes things don’t go right; and here despite sincere efforts, we failed to deliver value and possibly could have caused a contractural or security breach for a hard-working contractor. We’ll take our lumps.
Business day-to-day represents these sorts of decisions, choices, responses, reactions and solutions. It isn’t perfect.