By Toby Somerville

Make money from your mistakes

By Toby Somerville

It is possible to profit from your mistakes. Let me tell you a little true story.

Once upon a time, one Saturday morning my (then) hosting company accidentally deleted one of my reseller accounts and failed to get the hosting back on-line for 2 and a half days, (the hows and whys of it are not for this post).

As you can imagine, my clients were furious. Even though it was not my error — I was responsible for it. So, once everything was back up and running, what did I do? Did I give them an imaginative excuse, using lots of acronyms and blaming everyone else? No. I sent all the affected clients a personalised email. Apologising and explaining what had happened and what I was doing to prevent it happening again. I sent this email to everyone, even to the clients who had not noticed the outage.


The response to that email was actually incredibly positive:

“Thanks for letting us know”
“I appreciate your honesty”
“Oh, by the way I need “X” doing, can you send me a quote.”

And business continued on happily after…


The moral of the story?
Now, whilst it is not the most exciting story, there is a moral: and no, it isn’t that you should disable your client’s hosting in order to get more sales. It is by being honest and upfront about your mistakes is not necessarily a bad thing; you can earn client respect, trust and sometimes even a little cash.

Have you ever profited from your mistakes? and if so how?

  • Nice fluffy post :)

  • mchlsync

    I love honesty but this is not about making money from mistake. This is about being honest and how to care about client even they gave you a little money… I like your example but seems doens’t match with the title. Thank you!

  • Tiago

    The question here is how to keep your clients on your business!

  • I have a good example: the first job interview I went to, I was late. Talk about the absolute, number one rule for job interviews! It was exam week, and I had been up most of the night. I was also house sitting, and made a mistake programming an alarm clock with which I was unfamiliar. I called ahead as soon as I woke up, and arrived some 20 minutes late (amazingly!)

    The interview was actually a group session, with IQ test and Myer-Briggs profiling. At the lunch break, the coordinator asked me why I was late, and I contemplated spinning some story about my car battery failing, but I just told her the truth.

    I got the job. The rest of the people in the room doing the tests with me did not. I’m convinced that, had I answered any differently, they would have seen straight through it and not made me an offer. As with Toby’s tale, being honest earned me some respect.

  • Jaymin Patel

    Yes. It has happened to me before. I was working on a project for a client in CANADA and there were two databases. 1. Developement 2. Production.

    I had to update developement DB with Production one and I did reverse! I apologize for that to client and his boss. They come back to me and said we will try to resolve this together. And we did it! We are still working together and they are happy with my work.

  • Another example:

    A hosting company we are using had massive hardware failure very soon after we moved a site (in development) to them, resulting in hours of downtime. They kept us, and our client, informed all the way through and therefore we are happy to continue doing business with them. The client was particularly impressed.

    If they had not responded in a personal and truthful way, I doubt we would be using them any more…

  • Sounds like you “profited” by treating your customers properly after your suppliers demonstrated their negligence…

    If you treat your clients right and are honest with them, they will reward you with more business. To be technical it wasn’t your mistake, unless your mistake was selling hosting and not verifying proper backups were functional. Which I suppose is a large mistake made by many resellers.

    I made a mistake once that made me money. I bought the wrong network card at CompUSA and sold it online for twice as much. :rolleyes:

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