My 14 year old daughter's volleyball team received new strips from their supplier this season (shorts and short sleeved shirts). New style, new material, not cheap!
After their first match, the girls were mortified at huge black patches of sweat appearing under their arms - apparent to all, even without raising their arms! They rushed to cover their new strips up in between their first and second match. They then all whinged and moaned incessantly. Nothing new there, but this time with a reason. No previous strip had ever met with any such complaints.
I decided to write to the supplier immediately to try to sort out the problem. Strike while the iron is hot, deliver bad news early, etc, etc.
I told him the issue, reminded him of what good customers the entire club, (several teams use the same supplier) had been for a long time and that the club was growing and had a healthy future but that if the situation wasn't sorted then we may have to look around the market for an alternative supplier.
I made a proposal which gave the supplier two options. Either they replaced the shirts free of charge and we returned the old ones (of no use to supplier because they are branded), or that they supply new strips at 50% of the retail price (in an acceptable material) and we keep old sweaty strips for training purposes only.
They replied immediately accepting the 2nd proposal. Which was our preferred option too.
A similar situation seems to have been playing out with the recent discussion between Virgin Trains and the Government. Virgin, and their competitor First Group, had both bid for the new contract to run trains from London to Glasgow. Virgin, who had operated the franchise for more than a decade, lost the bid. Virgin then claimed that the Government decision was flawed; at first looked like they were just bad losers, but after a time the Government admitted that the process had been flawed, and that the contract would be re-pitched.
The problem was that before the second contract could be awarded, Virgin's existing contract would expire. What would happen in the interim?
Virgin proposed the option of them maintaining the contract during the hiatus period, something the Government was reluctant to accept (loss of face). Or, said Virgin, if the Government decided to run the line themselves instead (a kind of short term nationalization), there would be all sorts of legal action. The Government accepted the first option, maybe because Virgin had created enough fear of failure that the status quo seems to be a much better place.
People like choices, even if one of them is one they will never take. Nobody likes to be told what to do. But you can help them make the right choice of course.
Romana Henry, Senior Consultant