I have a yogi friend who owns a yoga studio. He has been in business for a long time and one day we were speaking about being small business owners – the triumphs and the troubles. He said something to me that I found very confusing and somewhat liberating. He said something to the effect of, “Not everyone is going to like you (your business), it’s impossible, life and business operate on a bell curve, most people will like you, some just won’t. Focus on the ones that like you.” I probably just laughed it off at the time and thought, “that’s impossible, because I think that like everyone should like what I am doing, right?” (I say this in my teenager valley girl voice for effect, I just really want you to be in the moment with me)
After the newsletters you kind folks have been reading for the past few months, you have seen me get some good press and genuinely put forth some positive and good energy vibes about my business and myself. I originally was going to write this newsletter about planning parties, checklists for planning said parties, etc. But, I decided instead to write to you about an honest experience about a catering party I had last weekend. A party that, wait for it, didn’t go my way!
Yes! It’s true, I will admit it. I am used to most all of my Relish experiences going well – I guess the law of averages had to catch up with me. Even after all of my hard work, planning, checking, rechecking, setting things up, rearranging, adapting to the flow, and working (did I mention working?) really thoroughly and hard, did not become the A+ experience I had planned for with my clients and their guests. It was an elegant affair at an amazing stately property with wonderful people who were celebrating a life event. Delicious food, gorgeous flowers, a scene out of a movie, just stunning all around. Until, there was a mishap with one of my employees. And then another miscommunication between myself and the host, and then…
When I learned of these incidents and mistakes, I wanted to run away. And hide. And maybe cry. But, as far as I last looked, I was the captain of this Relish boat and needed to make it work (and I hadn’t served the ribeye course yet). I thought to myself, “there is no way this is happening!” Ugh, but it was. Time to put my big girl pants on and try to make it right. I was ultimately responsible. The weight of dread that sat on my chest was palatable. I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed with the backlash of something that has happened, or even the anticipation of stress, I have a huge weight on my chest that makes it hard for me to breathe. I always try to tell myself that I’ve been through worse (maybe someday I’ll write that book…) but that seldom helps in the moment.
I spoke with the host about the miscommunication when it was appropriate to do so; explained myself, why the decision was made, and that, yes, I was responsible. Many apologies were necessary and appropriate, the host understood why these decisions were made (he didn’t agree with the decisions made but was gracious about it), and we worked it out over time. I don’t believe in apology for apology’s sake, you better back that apology up with fact, reason and some peacemaking/offering. A client/customer should be taken care of with respect and graciousness. Customer service is extremely important. It is the backbone of many a great company.
The night progressed as it should. Dinner was delicious, everyone had fun and the evening came to a close. All was well. A past me would have probably never spoken to the host to inquire of the issues. Let’s face it, former me would have never even tried to do something so grand in the first place. When I was about 9 years old, my Mother gave me a book entitled “Nobody is Perfick”. She recognized in me that I get stuck on being perfect. Things in my life haven’t been perfect, I am now learning to accept this and realize that it’s not about making everything perfect, it’s how you handle the things that come up. It has taken a very long time to learn this lesson and I am still trying every day (sometimes I have A LOT of things that come up). Working with reality, however “imperfect” it is with humility, honesty and grace where I constructively fix problems is part of my every day now. I can only hope that these lovely folks will hire me again and maybe next time I can achieve exactly what they are looking for.
Thanks for listening, phew, I feel a little better! Next time, this newsletter will be about planning parties, just in time for the Holiday season. Ever have an idea for a topic you’d like me to cover? Email me, I’ll listen (hey, you just listened to me rant for a while, right?)