Wedding Business Mistakes: A Tale of Caution
My first wedding business took off fairly quickly. As you can imagine, it was hugely exciting and I was pumped that the brand was resonating with our target market and we were delivering a great product.
Every now and then, we’d run into issues with a delivery getting stuck with a driver and not making it in time, or a technical hitch causing a break down in our warehousing system and a package being picked wrong, or we just plain made mistakes. And, we had a great customer service team that was growing with the business and handled these issues really well.
Overall, we were having fun and our customers loved us and the staff were happy… and we were in a bubble of wedding business bliss for many years.
Wedding Business Mistakes… Here’s Where it Goes Horribly Wrong
It was like a perfect storm. We had a huge influx of orders over a couple of months because we had an unexpected spike in website traffic, and we had to pre-order a lot of stock to fill these orders… we got overwhelmed, I couldn’t hire and train staff fast enough, and our systems started breaking down. It was awful, horrible and terrible…
A container of stock from overseas with LOTS of product that was pre-sold arrived late. Really late. On top of our already poor handling of the growth without good systems in place, needing to rely on external warehouses to fill these orders quickly and too little staff and not enough stock to handle the growth… we were really in trouble.
Refunds were flying out the door left, right and center, and the culture in the business took a nose-dive. The customers were furious with us (with good reason) and although every single one of us on the team had the very best intentions and were trying with all of our might to make things right, I failed miserably.
My golden brand that had served hundreds of thousands of people was damaged.
And, I was mortified. Crying every night sad. Shaking to the core anxious. Furious with myself for letting our customers and staff down.
This was a truly miserable lesson to learn and it took years to recover. The mistakes that fuelled this led to enormous personal financial loss, reputational damage and stress unlike I’ve ever felt before.
Although we did recover, steadying the business back to shore – with hard lessons learned and good processes in place – I walked away after selling the business a few years later much wiser and with battle scars. It serves as an enormous lesson for me that now drives my every decision.
I’d hate for you to make these same mistakes. How can you learn from this lesson in business damage?
Start as you mean to finish: Get Good Systems NOW!
As soon as you launch your wedding business, get your systems in place. This means a good backend system that automatically handles the fulfilment of your orders and services; schedules your activities that ensure you fulfil your obligations so you never lose track of what needs to be done. So, if you’re in ecommerce, this means a good fulfilment system that backends your shopping cart; and, if you’re a service provider in the wedding industry, this means a good scheduling and project management system like HoneyBook; and if you’re selling information products, this means a good autoresponder like ActiveCampaign.
Getting the products or services delivered within the agreed timeframe and with the best quality possible is a non-negotiable outcome in business. This is where I failed, and the horrible lesson I needed to learn. You want to be prepared for any spike in growth – no scrambling, no letting your team and customers down.
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Underpromise and Overdeliver: Your Customers Are #1 Always
It’s often said that you should underpromise and overdeliver, and this is absolutely my experience with getting things right with a growing business. No matter if you have one or thousands of customers, it’s imperative that you think about what you’re agreeing to deliver and ensure that you do it on time, on budget and give a little extra of yourself to make your customers beam with delight.
I always had this philosophy, but when things crumbled with a systems crash and overload of orders, we simply could not deliver on what we promised over this period of instability. So the philosophy became just that and we simply were not living up to our brand promise. Disaster at every turn. And it took years to bring that back.
Now, particularly as I’m in the service industry, I am constantly focussed on ensuring that what we deliver is amazing quality, we’re giving all of ourselves, we deliver on time, we deliver on budget and that we create a feeling of warm-fuzzy with our customers and clients. How can you create that in your business too?
Own Your Mistakes: Yes, You’ll Make Them
I own that part of my business life. And, while it still makes me sad and angry with myself that I let it happen, and that I ballsed things up so horribly, letting customers and staff down – over time, I have apologized, accepted the mistakes and learned from them, and it’s a big part of my ethos now to ensure that those I teach and work with don’t make those same mistakes.
As a business owner, you will make mistakes (hopefully not as big and impactful as mine was) and it’s important that you also apologize, accept the mistake, learn from it and forgive yourself. Life is full of lessons, and so is business. Get on with it and just ensure it doesn’t happen again!
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Love and wedding planning bliss,
Hi, I'm Kathryn
I'm the CEO of Weddings Inc. Join 1000s of wedding professionals and get access to my free library of videos, e-books, worksheets and more to help you grow your wedding business.