The Buck Stops with You — Responsibility for Business Owners

Businesses should be responsible.

When you read that sentence, what do you think that “responsible” means in this context? Different people will have different answers; some will say that this means businesses have to be environmentally responsible, others will say that businesses are responsible for taking care of their finances. Neither answer is wrong, but there’s another type of “responsible” that you may want to consider: the responsibility you have when things go wrong.

boy, child, clouds

A business that is responsible for its own mistakes is a business that can be trusted. When businesses try to pass the buck and absolve themselves of blame, they can ruin their reputation with breathtaking speed. Below, let’s explore three areas where you have to be willing to take responsibility for any issues that your business has caused, as well as the steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Rogue distributors

If you make your own products which you then sell to distributors, you will be required to set a minimum advertised price (MAP). This is the lowest price that distributors are allowed to sell your products.

There are numerous reasons a distributor might be tempted to go rogue and advertise your products for a lower price. They might want to generate more interest, undercut their competitors, or just make a quick sale. Whatever their reason, it’s wrong, and all the other distributors you sell to will be furious if another company is violating the MAP.

If this happens, then you need to take responsibility for the rogue distributor, even though it’s not really your fault. The distributor is at fault, but you have to take the fall on this one. Apologise, assure the annoyed distributors you’re going to be working with the likes of Trade Vitality to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and move on.

Image Credit: Pexels
Discourteous employees

All business owners want to get the most out of their employees and encourage them to do well; they’re a vital part of your business. If you hear a report from a customer that an employee has been discourteous or not performed correctly, then your first instinct might be to defend the employee.

This isn’t a good idea, and can actually make the customer angry. Even if you think the customer is wrong, just issue an apology and say the matter will be dealt with. As the boss, it’s your job to be responsible for hiring the right staff. So if one of your employees messes up then sometimes you need to take the blame to ensure immediate damage control.

Speak to the employee in question and ensure they know the situation cannot be allowed to repeat itself.

Technical problems

If a customer wants to visit your site and finds that it’s crashed, they’re going to be annoyed. In this circumstance, you could blame your web host — they are, after all, the ones who are having the issue.

However — as with point two — it’s your responsibility as the business owner to choose a good web host. The same applies across all tech glitches, from ordering problems to delivery snafus — you have to own them. Anything other response will just make customers more irate.

By taking responsibility in the above areas of your business, you will give the impression of a business owner who is able to deal with issues without passing the buck. This, in turn, will make you seem more competent and in control — exactly the way that you want your customers to think of you.