Doing the Right Thing for Your Clients

I’m in a business where I can do what I love: help clients communicate well through writing. If I do this well, and if I provide a service or product that people want at a price they are willing to pay, I make money. My profit, therefore, is a good indicator of the health and quality of my business. As a former accounting professor told me, “Money in, good. Money out, bad.”

Sometimes the money has to go out. Of course, every business has expenses: people to pay, services to contract, supplies to buy, etc. But sometimes, the money goes out because it’s the right thing to do. I’ll give you two examples of this concept.

Free Service

I maintain a high standard of quality (SOQ) for my company. Once we have revised a document, we proof it, and we tell our clients that it will be right. Our SOQ is to leave no more than 1 error for every 50 pages, or 15,000 words, which is far better than most books I have read. The longer the document, however, the greater the possibility that it will contain errors. We have a multi-step process (multiple reviews by multiple proofreaders) to reduce this chance. Still, to be honest, errors can remain. And that brings us to the point.

Let’s say that we have just finished a 300-page book or 100-page dissertation. The client calls or e-mails me and says, “Hey, my book still has errors in it!” or “My professor reviewed it and found a problem with some citations.” Ok, it’s not common for this to occur, but it happens. What do I do? I could say, “Well, you already approved our work and paid for it. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to pay us to re-proof your document.” Or I could do the right thing.

Instead of asking the client to pay (money in) for re-editing or re-proofing, I’ll do it again for free (money out). This is a “money out” situation because I could be spending that same time doing something that brings money in. The time spent means a loss of income, and it has the same net effect as spending money. The official term for this is opportunity cost. It’s bad, from an accounting standpoint, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do.

Unexpected Refund

We have several writing instruction books for sale on our websites: 3 e-books and 1 paperback. When someone buys 300 Days of Better Writing, our most recent and most expensive book, he or she automatically receives a free copy of the e-book Precise Edit Training Manual. The websites inform buyers that they will receive the free book.

On occasion, however, someone will pay for both. In fact, this happened just this morning. Someone from Brazil bought all our books, which means he paid for 300 Days of Better Writing and Precise Edit Training Manual. What do I do? I could say, “He should have read the information more carefully. Too bad for him, but that’s extra income for us!” Or I could do the right thing.

I issued a refund for the training manual. The buyer didn’t ask for it; maybe he didn’t even realize that the training manual was free. He will probably be surprised to receive the refund. On the other hand, I said the Precise Edit Training Manual was free with 300 Days of Better Writing, and, by golly, it’s going to be free!

Why I Do the Right Thing

I’m not ashamed to say that I like to make money. But I don’t want to make money by taking advantage of others. I believe that businesses grow through honesty and integrity. Sure, I could make short-term gains through deceit, but I will have long-term growth and prosperity when I deal with my clients fairly. They come back for more. They tell others.

As important, though, is the self-image I create and maintain. What kind of business person do I want to be? Rather than be a person who takes advantage of others to squeeze out every penny possible, I want to be a person of integrity. That means doing the right thing. I believe that when I have both profit and integrity, I am a success. And that’s the kind of person I want to be.

The hardcopy (13.95), PDF (9.95), and Kindle (9.95) versions of 300 Days of Better Writing are available for purchase at

Use coupon code BETTER300 and receive free shipping for the hardcopy. Purchase the hardcopy or PDF of 300 Days of Better Writing and get a free PDF of the Precise Edit Training Manual (automatic through PayPal, no coupon code necessary).

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Filed under Businesses, Editing

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