Communication and Timeliness: or When to Call it Quits with a Partnership
Today, Morgan Culture had to separate from a sometimes-business-partner.
Last night, I turned down friends who wanted to go out. I went to bed around 11 because I had to get up early this morning. I got up, tore down my EZ-up tent that is my studio outside, removed all my studio lights, packed up my merchandise, skipped breakfast, and headed to Relay for Life in Ontario, CA: 50 miles and over an hour from home. I was sharing a booth with another vendor, letting her borrow my tent and table, and hopefully selling items in two locations simultaneously today (Crafted and Relay for Life).
I arrived at 8:30AM, the appointed time, and drove around looking for her car. When I didn’t see it after 10 minutes, I called her. She said she was two minutes away, so I reserved a parking spot for her and unloaded my car. 25 minutes later, she was still nowhere to be found, so I started packing up. She then called and said she’d been in an accident but was here. I explained that a simple text or quick call to that effect would have allowed me to get breakfast or do something else in the down time, instead of waiting around for 30 minutes. Then I continued packing up and left.
The thing is, this isn’t the first time this has happened. This vendor was removed from my store at Crafted when she skipped a day she was supposed to work in the store, didn’t communicate it to me so I could find her a sub, and didn’t even let me know afterward. I actually found out from the Crafted office when I was charged an additional $50 on my rent for being closed that day. To go back even further, when she was installing her handmade work at Crafted, I arrived early and stayed late for her, but she was consistently not on time. She also refused display and merchandising suggestions from other vendors, and left a somewhat negative impression with further vendors.
For me, communication and timeliness are key for a partnership. I can’t trust my business or my hand-painted merchandise with someone who isn’t dependable in regard to communicating problems, setbacks, and details. So I can’t work with this person anymore.
I’m struggling to find the lesson here. Could I somehow have known this person wasn’t dependable from the start? Should I not have tried to take this opportunity to work together after breaking the ties at Crafted? Part of me wants to chalk this experience up to “LA time”, a phenomenon that involves almost everyone being significantly late almost all of the time, but the bottom line is that “LA time” just doesn’t work for me or my company.
When we hosted an international student, I remember mentioning to him that he was always early waiting for a ride somewhere or coming home if we had an activity planned. I admired him when he told me, “At home [in Spain], my parents taught me that if dinner is at 5, I must be there at 5. Not 5:05, and not 5:01. If dinner is at 5, I’m there at 4:45.” I’ve also heard people say this about the modeling and acting industries; if an audition is at 3, showing up at 2:45 is on time and showing up at 3 makes one late. However, most of the models and performers I have used also show up significantly late (we’re talking hours). I don’t know what to make of this.
I’ve decided to make a stand and hold my art and fashion business to a higher standard of timeliness and communication; these are the ingredients to make customer service excellent. Therefore, all the people I work with and who will be selling Morgan Culture and LAYGS items need to represent my values.
I don’t like how it feels to end this working relationship, but I do like being able to say that anywhere you see LAYGS sold will be a place you know you can find a trustworthy person. I’d say that’s brand identity!