Relationships, relationships, relationships.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, success really depends on relationships. Everyone screws up sometimes, and if you have good relationships with people around you, you can get out of hot water.
I forgot this adage recently, and I got burned.
I was hired by a small town to revamp their early 2000’s website. I was hired by one administration and worked very well with them. I worked through phase one which included setting the theme, creating the template for the header and menu, and setting the colors and photo slide show.
As with many small governments, and big ones for that matter, it was slow going getting the content for the rest of the site. This was nobody’s fault. It’s the effect of an understaffed office and women who, frankly, do way more than their job description calls for.
Fast forward a few months, and November elections changed the administration. This is where I failed. I did not make it a priority to build a relationship with the new administration including a new town administrator and a new mayor.
Once the new administration was sworn in, they wanted the site finished yesterday. Well, sites don’t get built in a day, and I was still waiting on a good amount of content. To further complicate things, the new administration changed a lot of what was already approved by the former administration, so I had to undo and redo somethings that were not necessarily small tasks.
I happened to run into the mayor, and he asked when was the site going to be ready. I told him honestly that I thought it could be ready by the following Friday. He was pleasant enough, and I was unaware that he was unhappy. Annoyed maybe, but not unhappy.
Well, I worked my tail off and was ready to get final approval the following Wednesday. We would be ready to launch that Friday as promised.
Sadly, it was not to be. When I called to see if there were any final edits that needed to be made, I was told to stop working on the site and put up a “Coming Soon” sign. “The mayor decided to go in a different direction,” I was told. “Send us an invoice for the work done. The mayor does not want to continue this relationship.”
There it was in plain letters. The mayor didn’t want to continue the relationship. That was when it hit me. I had not failed to build the website. It was complete, and it was beautiful! I had failed at building relationships. I didn’t take the time to meet with my new administration (my customer) and make sure that I was meeting their needs.
I still can’t wrap my head around how a small town can pay for a completed website and not use it. The Coming Soon sign is still up, and it’s been 3 months now. They could have had a beautiful site up for their taxpayers and constituents. I guess it just goes to show that relationships really are everything.
I’ve learned my lesson. I surely will not overlook a client relationship again.