As an interior designer and small business owner, I have to rely on a lot of other people to be able to effectively do my job.
I rely on them because they help me reduce risk. The less risks I face, the easier it is to stay in business.
Most of these people are other small business owners - they are my vendors, suppliers, contractors, etc., and we try to band together to make our own little tribe who can depend on each other. When these partnerships work, and I'm certain they stand behind their product or service, I consider them reliable sources who I'll forever return to with repeat business.
Now don't get me wrong. Things happen. Life screws up. Sometimes people have to eat things.
But it's especially easy to do business with suppliers when problems are handled with an outstanding level of professionalism. These instances cause you to appreciate and love that person you've invested your good name in, despite a little problem here and there.
Here's a sample of some of those moments when a business partner was able to turn my frown upside down because they made sure things were made right.
Within one hour of sending an email to a supplier about a custom rug that was installed months ago and was fraying at the seam, I received this e-mail back from them saying:
“Carla - We're so sorry there is an issue with the beautiful rug. We will set up a service call ASAP and coordinate through you.”
Me: Sigh. (With a smile :-)
On a recent furniture installation, with my faux finishers who just happened to be there working on the same job that day, I found a nick in the corner of the very large wood entertainment center that had just been installed. In an instant my faux finisher quietly said with a reassuring smile:
“Not a problem, Carla. We can touch that up for you today."
Me: Another sigh. (Gee, these people make me look good ;-)
After sending a pic to furniture supplier of a tiny broken piece of rattan on an outdoor bar stool that had only been installed a few months ago, I quickly received this response:
”Hi, Carla. I just wanted to follow up with you on the new barstool. It should be in by the first week of July. I will let you know once it arrives so we can arrange a day to deliver it and pick-up the damaged one.”
Me: Seriously, this made me sing!
Yes, life happens, and it doesn't always unfold perfectly. This is why having back-up -- aka: your customer support group of vendors, suppliers, contractors, etc. -- is beyond necessary.
But don't expect these people to be easy to find. The process requires lots of time and patience and money (because you usually have to go through a few in order to find the good ones). However, once your treasure hunt is complete, and you've found the perfect collection of people you can call upon in a moment's notice, you realize they're each worth their weight in gold.