For the longest time, I ran my business as a service industry business but to be honest, I spent a lot of that time feeling that I was owed and that people were out to get me and so I was always hedging my bets and treading water in a pool of negativity. The stress then was often CRUSHING. Working with Lloyd Princeton and Perry Gladstone, I soon realized that I was basically operating a Fast Food Design Service while I was wishing it were more of a 5 Star Restaurant. Why weren’t these clients finding me I wondered? Why were the same get in get out people trying to take my ideas but never wanted me to execute them.
And then it clicked. If I wanted to operate a Luxury Service I had to provide the service that was not what one would expect from a Drive Thru but I had to go the extra mile. I was able to really refine this and my ideal client with Kim Kuhteubl who was my coach most recently which helped get past the growing pains of transitioning from Fast Food to Fine Dining. The last 3 years of running MHD have been the best and most joyous. I love coming into work and I am not afraid to leave work, travel or take vacations the way I used to be. I have an amazing team here in the office and so I am looking for the same when it comes to our suppliers and trades. Luxury Service means demanding excellence of yourself as both a boss and business owner but it also means cleaning house when it comes to your suppliers.
We ordered chairs from a supplier in February, they were finally delivered yesterday. The upheaval, drama and WORK that was involved on our part to get them into the clients’ house was significant and we weren’t making them. This particular supplier offers us great pieces with style and price point that are amazing so we let things slide and ultimately, they come through and do so politely which is kinda huge. I dropped a supplier a few years ago after they refused to honour their warranty on a table we had to return FIVE TIMES. The clients really wanted the table and we had designed an entire room around it. That supplier lied, cheated and were incredibly rude and so their cheap goods didn’t align with our luxury service model and so good riddance even if your product looks nice and you charm the pants off of designers and bloggers at Market. Bye Bye.
We have local suppliers too who we try to support but I have to say the service model between Canada and the US can be vastly different. While we have a lot to be desired here in Canada, service on the mfg and even local levels strikes me as very different to that of the US. We have clients who work in the customer service industry and from what I know of their amazing company is that Service is KEY and their commitment to it is admirable. I would love to send a few suppliers to them just for an inservice, it could be life changing. However, I am not able to control the service that others offer and their attitudes are also not within my control, what is in my control however is what I’m willing to be party to. We received a piece yesterday that arrived to the client’s damaged or unfinished more specifically. The supplier categorically denied any fault and said it was in perfect condition when it left their care. Despite photo evidence that proves to the contrary their assertion, there were no apologies, solutions, remedies offered - we were told to deliver it back at our expense and it would be fixed. That’s not a service model that our business aligns with. When our client sent us the email notifying us that there was an issue, our response was swift and apologetic. No fingers were pointed. Did we ask the client if they had damaged the piece? Were we immediately defensive? No - it’s not about us it’s about the client and the speed and efficacy by which we resolve a problem speaks to the service we want to provide. Suppliers often make it difficult for designers to resolve matters - lots of red tape and sign offs - but the good ones see things the way we do - there’s a problem, let’s fix it and then after the matter is resolved, let’s figure out how we can avoid this from happening again either together or individually or both.
While I’m disappointed that the supplier responded in a way not befitting the service I expected, I’m not surprised. There was a pattern that had already emerged and this was the final straw. Better to cut ties now and move on so that we can continue to work our magic and not have it dulled by those who aren’t up to the task. Resolve, move on and learn for the next time. This is essential in offering a luxury service. Level Up. We’re game.