My friend Lewis Howes is working on a new book.
Naturally, he’s excited.
At a conference, he told a group of people about his book – including the title.
Now let me make one thing clear: this wasn’t a big group of people. It was a small group of trusted confidantes.
One of these people stole his book title and published a talk on it.
And sure, he later apologized. But I find this entire scenario troubling. Here’s why:
Right now there’s a mantra in the entrepreneurship world where people openly brag about “Never asking for permission. Ask for an apology.”
And on one hand, I get it. Sometimes, in the interest of “shipping it,” you need to ship it. Without apologies. But if you are doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing… and you do it anyway… you may find yourself in an impossible, unrecoverable position.
Because sometimes, “Sorry” is not enough.
A few years ago, someone stole my friend Ramit Sethi’s sales page. Word for word. I remember reading it and thinking, “Wait a second… REALLY!?”
Now I wasn’t friends with the person who stole the page, but I was an acquaintance. So, I reached out to them to let them know how I felt. “Yea, I was inspired by Ramit!”
“Uh. No. You stole his work.”
And they refused to make it right until Ramit involved lawyers.
They later apologized. They later said they learned their lesson. But does “sorry” wash away all the bad feelings?
Of course not.
I mean, here I am, writing about the incident several years later.
You may think, “Well, why don’t you just forgive and forget?”
And sure, you could.
But there are too many people in the world who do the right thing that, as a busy entrepreneur, you’re better off focusing on those who do the right thing… vs those who have a history of doing the wrong thing.
It gets worse too.
I know I showed you a few examples of people who clearly did a bad thing… and now they suffer the consequences for it… but consider this example:
I’m in the market for a new custom cake. I spoke to a cake decorator, and they told me they’d call me at noon. But noon came and went and I never got a phone call.
2 days later, I got a text message: “Sorry I missed you. So busy!”
I ignored it.
They followed up with examples.
I ignored it.
There are too many other cake decorators out there who wouldn’t go back on their word – and I rather do business with them.
The big question is this: what should you do when sorry isn’t enough?
When you want to win over someone for good, the truth is: sorry isn’t enough.
And you only really have two choices when you find yourself in this unfortunate position:
Choice #1: Move on
Know that you’ll never have a relationship with the person you just disappointed. And know that they’re likely telling people about it… forever.
Choice #2: Over compensate
Now imagine if that cake decorator followed up with me and said, “I know I let you down. The cake is on me.”
Sure, it would be expensive. But it would win me over.
How do I know?
A few years ago I was looking for an apartment. I was talking to a real estate agent in NYC, and they clearly made a huge mistake.
Then I got an email: “Hey Derek, I realized I messed up. So, if you want this apartment, I’ll waive my entire fee. I like to build a long term relationship with my clients, and I know you’ll need to either buy a place or rent a place in the future… so I rather make it right with you now.”
Think about this for a second.
A rental fee in NYC is thousands of dollars. And they were willing to waive it to compensate for their mistake. Did she win me over?
Heck yea she did.
I then decided to do some research on this real estate agent. And what did I find?
I discovered that she’s one of the top performing real estate agents in all of NYC.
It made complete sense.
I did something similar. When I first started my online business, my system accidentally billed someone twice. There was some kind of error, and they got billed twice. And it put them in an unfortunate position since it took the money right out of her debit account.
What did i do?
Yes, I refunded her the payment. But I also wired her the money so she could access the funds immediately.
In the end, I ended up giving her twice her money back. But she deserved it. I made a mistake. And I had to fix it.
And that’s the secret.
If you make a mistake, do everything to make it right. Even if it comes at a great expense to you and your business. Especially if you want an ongoing relationship with the person.
Now I pass it to you…
Has there even been a time when sorry wasn’t enough?
What did it take to win you over?