A recent banner project started smoothly but ended roughly. Sue asked me to design an employee-appreciation banner for a product launch on May 1. With almost three weeks to design, print, and ship to six locations, there was plenty of time.
The banner design went quickly, and Sue approved the artwork. We sent the files and shipping instructions to the printer. A total of ten vinyl banners would be delivered to six locations. Since we were ahead of schedule, we shipped the banners UPS ground. I requested the tracking numbers and forwarded that information to Cheryl.
Four days before the product launch (and Friday afternoon), Sue called to tell us there was a typo and we needed to reprint. I thought to myself, a typo? There’s not that much copy on the banner. It read: “At Sunshine Health, it’s the dedication of our employees that take us to the top!”
“It should be takes us to the top” said Sue. Her boss had caught it at the last minute and wanted to reprint. He was also going to rewrite the statement. Could we get it done?
“I’ll let you know,” I said and immediately called to find out if there was time to print and ship before May 1. “Yes,” the printer told me. “Send the file ASAP.”
Revised banner copy: “At Sunshine Health, it’s the dedication of our employees, improving the health of the community one person at a time, that takes us to the top!” It was easy to change the artwork, send a revised pdf to Cheryl for her approval, and upload a new file to reprint.
Everything moved at a fast pace. The banners were reprinted that Friday afternoon, finished Monday, and sent by overnight delivery. (The second shipment would be way more expensive, but it HAD to get done.) My printer sent me the tracking numbers. “The second set of banners are shipping tonight—delivery tomorrow. I’ll send tracking numbers in the morning.” (Did he send them or tell you he would in the morning? Which one?)
Although I gave Cheryl the first set of tracking numbers, I should have reminded her to alert her staff about the the banners (with the typo) and be on the lookout for a second delivery.
Cheryl sent me an urgent message the next morning, “There’s been a mix-up with the quantity at some locations… Can you verify how many were in each box? Especially the Sunrise location … they’re having six hundred people show up for an event, and we need those banners.”
Somehow, the quantities had been scrambled. The printer had marked each box with the location but not the quantity. A series of phone calls and emails flew back and forth between the printer, my client, and her six locations. Packages were tracked and banners were counted. Finally, we received a message that the box and number of banners for the event had indeed been received in time. Whew!
I asked myself, what should I have done differently? Should I have overseen the person who packaged the banners? (any other possibilities?) Hindsight is 20/20.
Bottom line: Logistics can make or break a project—or even a client relationship. When things go haywire, it is a reflection on me, my work, and my reputation, not the just vendors I had selected. The shipping mishap was out of my control, but I felt responsible.
William Shakespeare had a way with titles that always seem to summarize situations perfectly. The project was indeed a Comedy of Errors. It seemed that if something could go wrong, it did go wrong. Today, we call it Murphy’s Law. On the other hand, to borrow from another of the Bard’s famous comedies, All’s Well That Ends Well. And when all was said and done, the project did end well.
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