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    7 Replies Latest reply on Jan 14, 2009 2:02 PM by Iwrite

    Is there room in business for friendship?

    Iwrite Pioneer
      An ethical question I would like some feedback on:

      I am working on a project for a former partner from a previous agency. He has a company that is a client that needed a website written. As I have learned more about the company and the product, I realized that my friend is not servicing the account as well as he can. I have pointed out some things that he can do to increase their business but it would require a little more effort than he is willing to invest.

      Well, I was invited to a meeting between him and the client where they were discussing what they can do to generate business. My friend was content to be an order taker, rather than supplying them with solutions that could really make a difference. I didn't say anything because this is not my account, and I was there to gather information for the copy for the website.

      My problem is I know that the client did not get the best solution but I do not want to go behind his back. I talked to him and he doesn't think it is worth it to the client. I don't want to steal this client but I know that they can do better than what we are giving them. I am appreciative to my friend for the work.

      I have made my decision and I am fine with it. But I was wondering:

      Would it have been cool to go to the client directly?

      As a client, how what would you have wanted?

      Who is my ethical responsibility to my friend or the client?

      I really would like to hear what you think. Thanks.
        • Re: Is there room in business for friendship?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Is there room in business for friendship?? YES

          The question really is how good is your friendship?? Lets try another approach

          If you show this company "SOLUTIONS" will you and your friend be able to increase billings SUBSTANTIALLY.
          If the answer is YES then maybe you and your friend can form a business arrangement (like a partnership) for this one client.

          Right or wrong. if you go to the client directly you loose the friendship and maybe the client.

          Really a tough call, I am sure you will make the right decision. LUCKIEST
            • Re: Is there room in business for friendship?
              Iwrite Pioneer
              The problem is we have different views on how we should conduct business. I respect that. I presented him with the information, he agreed it would help the client but he didn't think it was worth pursuing. I decided that I had met my obligation by presenting him with my ideas. It is after all his client. How he runs his business is his decision. I would have handled it differently if it had been my client.

              Thanks.
            • Re: Is there room in business for friendship?
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              Would it have been cool to go to the client directly?
              No. You would put the client in an awkward position of having to act on conflicting input. That would be fine if you were a competing firm, trying to steal that client from your friend's company (but you would never have been given access to the insight you currently have if that were the case, would you?). You also put your friend in an awkward position by potentially causing a third party to question his professional competence. Your friend is likely to retaliate -- and spread the word that after bringing you in on a consult, you went behind his back and bad-mouthed him to his client. If your friend is well- respected (or just has lots of influential contacts), you might have to move to another continent to find work after that.

              As a client, how what would you have wanted?
              I'd have wanted you to be persuasive enough to get your friend to do right by me.

              Who is my ethical responsibility to my friend or the client?
              Both . . . and convincing your friend to do what you believe is right for the client (or having your friend convince you why it's not) is the preferred outcome for all three parties involved, in my view. If your best efforts can't make that happen, then you can ask yourself a couple of those tried-and-true moral dilemma questions: (1) What would I want/expect from a friend and colleague of mine who disagreed with my approach to a client's project? (2) Would my profession -- and the world at large -- be better off or worse off if everyone did what I'm considering in this instance?

              Hope that helps. Good luck.
              • Re: Is there room in business for friendship?
                DomainDiva Ranger

                Tough call my dear friend.

                The Diva says: Be Honest with your friend, tell him he's doing a lousy job and that you expected better of him. You know how I run my team (or how they run me sometimes), we are nothing if not way too brutally honest with each other and they have no problem telling me that I am doing something wrong. It's been good for me as a leader.

                If he does not think its' worth it to the client then he may be worried about getting paid as well.

                Going to the client would have been, well just wrong. You did good. As the client, I may have been skeptical if you came to me on the Q.T.; and probably would have called your friend as well.

                If you don't want to confront your friend, then why not make 'suggestions'?
                  • Re: Is there room in business for friendship?
                    Iwrite Pioneer
                    I spoke to him the way only friends can but he had made up his mind, and it is his business.

                    I was thinking of partnering with this person but I realize we do not share the same vision of running an agency. I learned an important lesson.
                      • Re: Is there room in business for friendship?
                        Iwrite Pioneer
                        Follow up to this situation:

                        This morning, the client was going over the website with us and he turned to my friend and asked, "Am I doing all that I can? I mean, is this the best effort I could be putting forward, what would you recommend?"

                        My friend presented my ideas to the client, and the client said, "I wish I had heard this before you guys had done this. As soon as I saw this, it felt like I was missing something."

                        After the meeting, my friend and I had another talk. I think he understands that I was only trying to have his back. I hope this hasn't hurt his relationship with the client. I think he has learned a valuable lesson. I know I have.

                        Thanks for your advise. Feel free to give me more...