One of the hardest things I have to do is stand my ground when someone wants to get out of an agreement and/or contract. These challenges have come about more during 2020. I know that we’ve all experienced this in some way or another. It keeps me up at night, fretting and worrying about how I’m going to talk to them. Visualizing how the conversation will go and the ways I can make it work out the best for both parties involved.
Realizing they have personal reasons that are beyond my control while balancing the fact that they entered into a contractual agreement. Today, I had a couple that called off their marriage altogether. This can be a super awkward and difficult time for all involved. (I have to say that I'm always glad they figure that out BEFORE they get hitched though!)
I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating...you always need to come at it from a standpoint of being the “hero” in the situation. How do you accomplish this? Well, even if a situation upsets you and makes your blood boil--or if your knees quiver at the thought of having to deal with this situation, you need to just take a moment and think it through.
For me, in this particular situation, I knew that I would be willing to give some money back to them and I was in a position to do this. BUT, this should be MY decision, not something I was forced into by the other party. Remember, they did sign and agree to the terms of working with my business before choosing to get out of this situation there were in now. And, for sure, I want you to see that I just said "my business" not ME. We have to learn how to separate our business from our person. I know, this isn't always easy! So, after much thought, I knew that I was prepared to talk to them.
I reached out to them this morning. Turns out, the number that was given on the email to contact them was for the mother of the groom! I didn't let that throw me off because I had already thought about how I wanted it to go and the outcome I wanted. First, asked how she was and how she had been during these last few months. (That went well as it set the tone for a more relaxing call. Don't dive into the issue first thing!)
Next, I asked her about the email I received and wanted to know if everything was okay? You see, the email I received said they were cancelling their wedding due to COVID 19, when I had already gotten an email from the planner that the wedding was postponed until next June '21! So something else had happened. She went on to tell me that the wedding had been called off. And after a little more talking, she explained that they weren't even seeing each other anymore. So, the REAL story came out! This is what I mean. Often, we don't know the real reasons why people do what they do. They are on the defensive thinking that they will have to fight to get their money back.
After consoling her and letting her know that I completely understand and regret the situation, I gently let her know that I was caught between a rock and a hard place. "The agreement that was signed agreed to the fact that the retainer was non-refundable." She immediately said, "so that whole amount was non-refundable?" I quickly remarked that yes, it is as the work doesn't just get started the week of the wedding. All of the planning and recipes for each design had already been done in preparation for the 1st wedding date in June '20. BUT, I let her know that based on the situation, I would be agreeable to returning a portion of the non-refundable retainer due to these circumstances. Her tenseness released when she realized that work had been done and that in spite of that, I was willing to give her something back. She thanked me profusely and we continued on to what I call a "win/win" situation.
You see, just getting them from being on the defensive position to an accepting position is what you have to strive for. I'm talking about stepping out in courage and with grace to another person, then offering them what can an acceptable outcome to a major change at that moment of their life.
Being the hero in a situation takes some forethought but it's so worth it in the end.