Feb 10, 2016

Marketers—How to Handle a Vendor Disaster

by Karly Sandsmark
Agency Insider

In the world of marketing and advertising, we are constantly playing middleman between clients and vendors.

Most times, jobs run smoothly and everybody goes home happy; however, things don’t always go according to plan. Successful businesses aren’t the ones that don’t experience catastrophes, but the ones who know how to handle them. Because we’ve been there, here are some things to remember when a vendor disaster occurs.


It’s almost impossible to remain 100% levelheaded amidst a crisis—and that’s all right. What it doesn’t justify, however, is flying off the handle and immediately playing the blame game. (You know, the thing you did when you were a kid when your mom asked who spilled paint on the carpet.)

Determining responsibility is important for rectifying the situation, but not until you have had the chance to go back and check the records. Did you send the wrong art file? Did you give the vendor the wrong quantity? Find proof before you start accusing people of things that might be your fault.

Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s the vendor’s fault, and sometimes it’s a combination of the two. Regardless of the circumstance, take responsibility for your actions and move on to the next stage: problem solving.


Most problems can be fixed, even though it might not seem like it in the moment. Even if there isn’t an immediate obvious answer, you’ll be surprised at how creative people can be in a crisis. It’s important to work together to get the job done because if the customer is happy, everyone is happy.


Treat any vendor like you would treat your client, even if they are not giving you the same respect. Things go wrong, arguments happen, but the important thing is the end result. We’ve certainly had our share of jobs go awry, but we’ve almost always been able to maintain a professional relationship with those vendors.

Screw-ups are inevitable, but knowing how to handle them can be the difference between a small mishap and a reputation killer. 

What was your most infamous vendor disaster? Tell us below!