Trade Show TalesBlog

Finish What You Start: Word on the Street — Nov. 7th thru Nov. 11th

November 13th, 2011 COMMENTS
Finish What You Start

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

“Finish What You Start.”

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a chore assigned to us as a child or, or as an adult, a home project we start with good intentions only to let it linger. Your parents and now your spouse is rarely sympathetic. There’s a darn good chance they’ll launch into the “Finish what you start” speech.

Finishing something, all too often, is a frustrating challenge we encounter in business as well. As a “customer,” you want a contractor, an employee, or a colleague to honor their word, their promise, their obligation. We had an agreement. Perhaps not a contractual agreement, but at a minimum, a moral and ethical pact. We trusted one another to do the right thing.

Recently, a family member hired what I will refer to as “a contractor” for the sake of this article. This contractor was to provide a service which my family member did not have the expertise to do himself.

Well, this process has been going on for two years now with both sides completing their due diligence. This week in a meeting, my family member was told that the contractor was backing out and could not perform his duties any longer. Frankly, the reason was lame. There was no family emergency or poor health or an ethical quandary. Just a matter of fact desire not to continue. What makes it worse is that the scheduled completion date is only four months away.

Finish What You StartIn doing so, the contractor said he would be more than happy to refer my family member to someone else, but acted as if it were no big deal for someone else to pick up the ball and run with it, which is certainly not the case. This contractor is forgetting that a lot of trust and time has been put into his hands to handle these services.

Can you imagine if this happened in our industry? Someone hired you to design and build a $50,000 exhibit to help launch a new product. You did all the discovery work, the design work, and even built all the parts of the exhibit only to walk away saying, “Don’t worry. You will have no problem finding someone to finish everything, even though your show opens next week.”

That would never fly!

And then imagine if you had the audacity to mention in closing that you expected to be paid in full for all your time and services!

You would likely be served with a lawsuit, right? That is what I am thinking.

Aside from the large inconvenience to your customer, you have left them with a lot of uncertainty, fear, and questions about whether or not they would ever want to participate in trade show marketing again.

The right and honorable thing to do is to finish the work as promised. And if you are in over your head, then seek out the right partners to help you complete the work for your client.

If I sound a little “ranty,” it’s because I am on this. But it just seems that sometimes service providers in today’s world forget what it means to finish what they start and to be honest about their capabilities.

–Kevin Carty



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