I've Had to Much to Think Today
Today it was about being forced into working with a supplier who we warned wouldn't deliver and inevitably didn't. Clearly it's not appropriate to go into details but it brings up the question whether the recommendations we make to clients are taken seriously. Are pre-existing relationships with suppliers worth more than with a design partner even if the party in question is not providing products and services in the best interest of the client? Even if we clearly reveal this to the client? In this case, apparently not.
I like to think our firm and designers in general are honest to a fault. We go well beyond the budget and expectations of the client to deliver what we genuinely think is the best for them. I like to think we work with the best suppliers who continually show a commitment to quality and integrity. Today my integrity was questioned. The worst part of it is that the reason it was questioned was because of a supplier who appears to have a lack of it. Ok, this is sounding like a rant and granted I'm pretty emotional right now - tomorrow I'll read this over with a more objective mind - but like a great song, the best writing is done in the heat of passion.
We've fired clients before, and for much much larger bottom lines than this client offered - in fact, ironically, our contract with this client is finished, we were only currently providing supplier coordination - but in those other cases it was always more about the working relationship never about integrity, and when my integrity is questioned my hackles get up. What happened between the mutually agreed great work we did during the discovery and branding strategy process through creative and implementation only to be derailed in deployment? Did we not do our job building trust and aligning our committment to quality? Did we not listen? Did we not want to hear? Clearly a pre-existing relationship with a substandard supplier happened. A disconnect on the desired quality of the final product happened. The final product? Fuck! What have we spent the last four months pouring our heart and soul into? Is a few cents on a business card (ex) going to cause all this hard work to fall apart? Apparently so. Business ethos. Clearly we aren't aligned in our vision of what defines a successful company. Quality, commitment and service. I'm ashamed I didn't see it coming because I thought I was a much better judge of character than what became painfully clear today. But you never know, do you?
I must say, in 23 years in the business I've never experienced this situation. Maybe I'm lucky, maybe naive. Regardless, we have one less client on our project list, and I'm glad. I'm too old for this shit. If the vision doesn't align, the door will open and my boot will be planted firmly on their ass.
If there's anything I can take away from this, and one always has to see something positive and keep learning, it's that I've learned to find out earlier on in a client relationship where their alliances lie. Do those relationships mesh with what we stand for as a firm? Will they cause stress further into the project, and will they jeopardize the ultimate outcome? It's too late for this relationship but I can prevent this situation from happening again in the future. I truly wish them the best of luck. Both of them. Together.