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How to Overcome Adversity: 'I Kept My Reputation Intact'

The Problem: In this small rural town, high school football is interwoven with the community’s identity, its sense of pride and self. Getting the team colors correct on spirit flags the booster club sells to folks to fly outside their homes is, then, of top importance.

But unfortunately for Cheryl Brungardt, the flags she delivered to be sold at homecoming were more orangey red than the blazing “Red Cross” red worn by the players.  “It was just days before homecoming and the buyer called me in a panic,” says Brungardt, owner of Thank Em Promotions, a Kaeser & Blair dealer (asi/238600). “It was a $6,000 order and she said she wasn’t going to pay.”

What made it even tougher for Brungardt is that the mix-up wasn’t her fault. The client contact – a parent from the booster club new to her buying role – wasn’t sure the exact red to order. Brungardt sent her a PMS chart of reds so she could select the right one. The woman thought she picked the correct tone, but related the wrong PMS number. While extremely stretched because of an imminent deadline, Brungardt still took the time to double check with the buyer that the color she was ordering was in fact the team’s, but even that diligence didn’t prevent the error. 

The Solution: Facing a huge bill and an irate customer, Brungardt sped into action. She worked with Kaeser & Blair support to engineer a deal with the supplier whereby it created the correct flags at net. Before production began, Brungardt wisely instructed the buyer to have an art teacher at the school ensure the red now being selected was indeed spot on. Thus confirmed, flag creation commenced, with Brungardt personally helping to fund the purchase. By the final tally, she lost about $700 on the deal, but the client got the flags to sell to generate team-supporting funds and people in the football-mad town were able to proudly fly the logoed spirit boosters outside their homes.

The Lesson: Through the trying scenario, Brungardt learned that it’s important to go the extra mile in order to maintain your professional standing, even if it means temporarily losing a chunk of change. “I kept my reputation intact – I was able to deliver what the client wanted,” she says. “You work so hard to build a good reputation over the years. I didn’t want this to destroy it. I didn’t want her to go around trashing me. How much is your reputation worth? Certainly more than $700.” Additionally, the flag flub-up redoubled Brungardt’s commitment to being intensely attentive to every order’s smallest details. “I confirm, confirm and confirm again,” she says. “I make sure there are no questions before we proceed.” 

The keen attention to each order and reputation maintenance has contributed to Brungardt’s continued success. Her sales are up 10% for the year so far, and she’s optimistic things are going to get even better.