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Home SME PROFILES Patricia Okello: A loss that turned out to be my success in business

Patricia Okello: A loss that turned out to be my success in business

Patricia Okello: A loss that turned out to be my success in business

Co-Op post

Patricia Okello is the founder of Conferencing In A Box Limited, a corporate events logistics company and Willart Production Limited which specializes in brand development. Patricia Okello is also the co-author of A Candid Handbook for Women Doing Business in Kenya.

After sending tons of spam mail very early in my business, I finally got an opportunity to pitch for a job with a local NGO and won a contract to design and produce a report for one of their projects. In essence, it was a ‘test-job’. I had been in business long enough to understand the importance of signing off on all approvals from the client at every crucial stage in production.

At the time, I had only one additional employee who was actually an intern and unable to execute the job. Besides this, the subject of the publication was a legal booklet that had many terms that I did not understand. Nonetheless, the most important part of the job was designing the cover. We had a lot of back and forth on this with the client but finally, got our approval and were ready to go to press.

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The job went out without a hitch and I delivered to the client in good time. The cover was beautiful – I recall it was purple and I had given it a nice shinny finish. We had agreed that before the official launch, we would deliver the book to various important guests. On the eve of the day that the book was to launch, as I packed my things to leave the office, I got a call from the client. He sounded irate! The cover of the book had a glaring spelling mistake. Somehow, this error had escaped my eye.

At that point, the temptation to tell the client that they had in fact signed off on all the printing proofs before we ran the job was high. All that ran in my head was; who is going to bear the cost of this huge loss! I quickly realized that this would not be a good idea and told the very angry customer that I was on my way to pick the books from their office and would resolve the issue the following day in time for the launch.

The following day, I ran a fresh cover without the spelling mistake and delivered in time. Yes, I ran this job at a huge loss, but the decision to re-print the publication is what encouraged the client to give me a second and third chance. I have since kept this client to date.

My Lesson

Before you quickly move to blame your customer for any accidental mistakes that can occur in the process of delivering your services, you should first focus on offering solutions. That is ultimately why I am still in business and why you’ll survive the world of business. Had I not delivered the books for the launch, my client would have certainly lost his job and I would have closed shop since at the time, my business was too young to take such a huge hit.

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