Hey, You're Human

Everyone makes mistakes. Here’s how to learn from them.

The Problem

For ad specialty pro Howard Potter, things were looking good on a particular order from a local college before turning turbulent. The college came to the owner of Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images (asi/702505) essentially knowing what it wanted: 500 branded water bottles for an event being held at the institution. The order was to be turned around in about 10 days – not a wealth of time, sure, but far better than the couple-day press that often comes into play.

Feeling good that the reliable service and quality products he’d provided in the past had compelled the college to seek him out for this job, Potter sourced water bottles the client liked, arranged to have the artwork done just right and got the buyer to sign off on the order. He then submitted the P.O. to the supplier and waited for the water bottles to arrive.
Only they didn’t.

Three days before the college’s event, Potter called the supplier to find out what was up. It was then he learned his mistake: He had unwittingly switched numbers in the due date. Based on that, the water bottles were set to arrive no time soon.

The Solution

Even though the client had signed off on the order, Potter felt the responsibility lay with him. He set about making things right. Leveraging the good rapport he had with the supplier, he arranged for the vendor to turn the order around lightning quick without levying a rush charge. He then paid a significantly heightened shipping fee. “I barely broke even, but the client had their water bottles on time and they were happy,” says Potter. “It maintained the relationship.”

The Lesson

For Potter, the experience hammered home the importance of rigorous and habitual checking and follow-up. “I’m usually very meticulous,” he says. “I place an order and call soon after to make sure the manufacturer got it and that we’re squared away. This time I didn’t and I almost got burned. It just reminded me how important it is to always – always – take the extra minute and double and triple check everything and to make that phone call. If you don’t, it can cost you.”