Branding, Integrity, and Handling Mistakes
Integrity is not just a smart and moral way to navigate your personal life. It’s also part of your professional branding, and it will inevitably affect your business success.
This past weekend I performed for a new client. They had previously booked another performer, but he phoned them to cancel his appearance just a day and a half before the event. They were not convinced that his “double booked” story was true, and he did not make an effort to replace himself but simply left them to pick up the pieces. I got the call, charged them a higher price (I simply could not match his low-ball fee), and got uniformly great feedback afterward. As a bonus, I expect significant additional work from this client.
The truth is that the other performer may have indeed honestly and accidentally double-booked himself. Mistakes happen to everyone. But there is no excuse not to have gone to the client with a solution in hand, already having made arrangements to replace himself. There are literally dozens of performers in this area – at a range of skill and price points – and he should have at least reached out to a couple of them so that he would have options on the table when contacting the client about his error.
The best possibility is that other performer made an honest mistake. On the other hand, he also may simply have ditched them for a “better” or more lucrative gig. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I did so even when this client expressed their suspicion. But by leaving the client stressed, without easy options, and convinced that they had been ditched for a higher-paying opportunity, he spoiled any chance of working for them in the future. He also eliminated any possibility that he might get future “overflow” work from me because of the way he chose to handle the situation: leaving a client hanging rather than taking the initiative to attempt to replace himself.
You and I will make mistakes, too. But how we handle those mistakes will be a good indicator of our integrity, our commitment to our clients, and to our own professional reputations.
“Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of — for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
I have always said; you know whether or not you want to do business with someone by how they handle mistakes.