Sunday, June 14, 2009

Friends Recommending Friends

I recently did something that I do all the time. A colleague of mine was looking to hire a freelancer that had skills another friend of mine possessed so I hooked them up and the colleague hired the friend and so the project began. Of course I highly recommended the friend to my colleague and my friend asked me if I could vouch for the company which I did. Both of these people know that I don't recommend anyone lightly so the marriage was made with my blessing.

Then life happened. The friend had childcare issues with a newborn baby that resulted in her only finishing 70% of the project within the project deadline. My colleague had to find someone at the last minute to complete the unfinished part of the project. And so ended a perfect match. My friend invoiced the colleague for the completed part of the job and my colleague turned around and hired a lawyer without paying a dime. Of course the colleague can't talk to me under advice of the lawyer and my friend is stressed emotionally and financially over a business arrangement I initiated.

I asked for advice from a few of my trusted friends and was amazed by the responses I received. I will share excerpts here:

"I would try to make good with the client somehow and earn their trust back. And a true friend would recognize you stuck your neck out for them. In the end, the job wasn't finished. Hopefully, on this copy job, they collected at least 25% up front. As I see it, the contractor owes you a make good in this case. If you need a copywriter, I'm happy to funnel a day's worth or work to my staffer on my tab for this should you need it. "

"...the important thing is you were trying to do a service to both for the introduction so you really can’t be responsible for the outcome. But you also need to make your own ethical decision on future recommendations of the two parties based on this! "

"I would warn people that they (the employer) have had a situation like this so they need to be cautious. I often find when companies don't pay people, it is a pattern and as a consultant, you wish you had known that ahead of time."

"If you feel so personally responsible, you should step in and offer to mediate a settlement acceptable to both parties.... A matter this small should never escalate to the point of litigation."

"As tempting as it may be to help your friends and salvage your reputation, the chances of you being able to improve the situation are slim unless they both ask you to do it. Butting in is likely to just remind both angry parties that you got them together, which is not good for you. It's kind of like cops with domestic disturbance calls - they hate taking those because the battling parties are likely to both turn on the cop. "

" seems straightforward, e.g. daycare. Since I have children, I know that "day care" issues can be resolved with planning. The person didn't have enough contingency plans. "

"Don't sweat this one. Give some of your time, in whatever capacity you can, to the original person. Ask the two of them to set a figure for financial reconcilliation. Talk to the person that hired the lawyer and say that never fixed anything and save the money. Then move forward. "

"I think we all rely on recommendations. Since you didn't make any referral fee or anything on the recommendation, it was made in good faith. As you put it, for years you have recommended people and all parties have been satisfied. "

"Did the company pay 100% of the bill to the agency? Did the company have any negative feedback about the copy/content provided? If they paid 100% and has zero complaints on the quality, then the agency is obligated to pay the contractor for the 70% delivered. "

"If this situation is resolved to your satisifaction and handled professionally by both parties, then you should not hesitate to recommend them both again. IF this situation is NOT resolved to your satisfaction and handlded professionaly by both parties, then you should not recommend either and you should disclose to both why you will not longer be referring business/work to them."

"If the situation has escalated to the point where lawyers are being called, then the options on the table have been diminished rather significantly. "

"I am assuming the owner of the company reviewed the person's work before the engagement of services and found the work to meet their needs and expectations. That said the company owner employed the person and therfore is obligated for services rendered. My opinion is that they should pay the 70 percent and be done the it. The agreement is based on time and that is what they are paying for. It's a little late to fault the writing quality since that should have been discovered along the way."

"Ask each party to consider they may be wrong. The answer is not for either party to stick to their guns, but simply to do this: GAIN RESOLUTION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE AND MOVE ON. "

"As far as ANYONE's REPUTATION being tarnished--of the 3 parties involved, forget it. This is just life. Life happens. Move on and let all 3 parties move on...All three parties are good people. Good people have misunderstandings."

Do you know what I have learned from this situation? That I have amazing friends that help me find my way when I can't see clearly through my emotions or perceptions. The last comment sums it up best, all three are good people and even good people have misunderstandings.

May we each find our way to an inner understanding, even if it cannot be found between those directly involved.

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