Lessons Learned and the Three F’s

For those of you who soon will be jumping into the entrepreneurial pool, two things.

First, congratulations! You’re in for the ride of your life. There’s nothing quite like owning your own business. And second, buckle up that seat belt. It’s gonna get rough.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being negative. Just realistic. Events in and out of your control are going to get out of hand. Mistakes will be made. Customers will be pissed. We are after all human.

Again…Not being negative. This is a reality check that every newbie business owner needs to understand. We all screw up. If you’re ever talking to a business owner who says he/she has never made a mistake, please politely turn and walk away. Unless you like to be fed an endless stream of BS.

Having embarked on an industry road we had zero training in, I can honestly say that we have made our share of errors. Mistakes can be a real morale deflator. But since workplace blunders are inevitable and I work with human beings, not robots, I wanted to have a system in place for everyone at Wicked Good so that we could turn a bad situation into a positive learning experience for our co-workers and a happy ending for our customers.

I devised the 3 F’s mantra. Hopefully, this works for you. Here it goes:

1)     Feel it. Okay. A mistake has happened. Maybe an order was sent out wrong. Maybe you let a meal sit too long before serving it to a customer. Or maybe you installed a faulty piece of equipment. Whatever the mistake may be, you now have an unhappy customer and that sucks.

This should hurt. You should FEEL this to your very core. If making an error doesn’t matter to you anymore, you should no longer be in business. You simply don’t care. I, however, care greatly. A snafu in our business is like a black eye on our reputation. And who wants that? By deeply feeling the mistake that has occurred you’ve begun the process of learning a lesson and even more importantly, you’ve begun to develop a system to ensure this type of gaffe never happens again.

2)     Fix it. Okay. You’ve recognized that someone has been wronged. That sick feeling is the insurance that you’ve completely acknowledged the misstep. Now. What are you waiting for? Fix it! Do not delay in responding to this mistake. Reach out to the customer immediately and make it right! Don’t waste time pointing fingers and assigning blame. Handle your customer first then figure out where the breakdown in your system occurred.

Never leave a customer hanging. Especially an unhappy one. Swallow your pride, address the issue and hopefully your customer will be so impressed with your response, you will have won them back before they have the opportunity to leave. Once the customer has been adequately assisted you can figure out what went wrong and address the breakdown in service.

And finally,

3)     Forget it. Let it go. You’ve figured out a solution, you have a satisfied customer. Don’t let this blunder keep you up at night. (I know. Easier said than done.) If you’ve taken care of business, worked out the kinks and have learned the lesson afforded you, there’s no reason to keep rehashing an ugly conversation with your customer or to think about what could have been done differently. It’s over. Let it go. Forget it.

The three F’s. Simple right? Absolutely. And a necessary game plan for any business. Look, sh*t happens. Training your co-workers how to handle issues is equally as important as any other system you have in place.

To all you burgeoning entrepreneurs out there. I wish you years and years of seamless commerce, with no missteps, miscalculations, oversights, and omissions. But just in case the impossible happens and an unforeseen boo-boo occurs, you now have a roadmap to help navigate the “flaw” we’ve come to know as being human.

~T    Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to share.