In a detail-oriented industry, mistakes are going to happen. As event professionals with high standards and superior reputations, committing an error can be a distressing situation—one that pains us almost as much (or more!) than our clients. While we can’t guarantee perfection 100% of the time, we can endeavor toward it, and be prepared to professionally handle a blunder when it inevitably occurs.
Acknowledging your mistakes
Sometimes, clients expect one thing and don’t necessarily read their contracts, leading to misunderstandings. We’ve installed the wrong gel colors, for example, or found that we’ve had the incorrect layouts on the photo booth, or even mispronounced names during intros. Our intentions were good, and we usually scramble to try to fix these types of errors before an event starts, but not everything can be addressed in time.
When this type of error happens, the only thing we can do is own up to our mistakes and apologize. Clients may be angry in the moment, but it is the only way to address a genuine mix-up. Ultimately, most will be understanding and will appreciate honesty.
“One of the biggest blunders we see is when timelines get messed up because a creative partner doesn’t follow the plan. … The kitchen was thrown off and dinner was significantly delayed.”
When creative partners have bad days
In other circumstances, our creative partners can inadvertently create a situation that cascades into a problem that impacts the client’s experience. One of the biggest blunders we see is when timelines get messed up because a creative partner doesn’t follow the plan. We recently had a photographer, for example, take a couple off property for sunset photos and ended up being gone for 35 minutes instead of the allotted 15. The kitchen was thrown off and dinner was significantly delayed. Communication clearly deteriorated between professionals and led to a breakdown.
Forget the blame game
Be careful when addressing a situation that you didn’t cause at the client level. While an honest recount is important, it is a professional courtesy not to aggravate or “sell-out” your colleagues. Provide clients with the facts as they occurred, as well as the actions all parties took to attempt to correct them. Remember: someday it may be your own error that derails a timeline or snowballs into a greater issue, and consider how you will want it to be handled.
Call a team meeting
When something does (unfortunately) go wrong, we recommend calling a team meeting. Review all aspects of the event and strategize ways to avoid the situation in the future. Every mistake is a learning opportunity. Analyze yours and make a plan to ensure that next time you don’t make the same mistakes.
Be positive. Many of our best policies resulted from our mistakes, and ours is a stronger company now as a result.
Finally, once you have addressed your mistakes, taken responsibility where appropriate, and apologized, let it go. Move on. Be confident that the steps you’ve taken will help you avoid future blunders, and take pride that your company is a stronger entity because you handled problems professionally.
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