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Catastrophic Muck-Ups And How to Avoid Them

The One Where Maison Design Had a $28,000 Crash and Burn

Peter Merchant’s business, Maison Design, often involves importing outdoor furniture from overseas. A few times his plans were foiled when the products he imported didn't meet his expectations.

A full container goes up in smoke

“I sourced some beautiful three-dimensional screens that were made in China. I purchased a whole container which cost me $28,000. They landed here, I had beautiful photos taken, and began advertising them to my database of clients. I was then informed by a Canadian company that these infringed on their copyright. I was instructed that I had to destroy them all. I had to set fire to them all, and I had to video myself setting fire to them.”

“These are things that you can’t help and have to learn the hard way. We did fall down there, and that was another loss of twenty odd thousand dollars, which hurt.”

Twice burned

“Another time, I ordered glass-reinforced-concrete tables from another Chinese company. GRC is supposed to be much stronger and resistant to cracks, and I was guaranteed that they were strong and the quality was there. The challenge is you can’t just order one sample, so I ordered a whole container of the tables. They got here, and when we had them here on display, they cracked in half. Almost all of them cracked, and the ones which didn’t, we got rid of, as we can’t run the risk of selling rubbish. We now purchase them from an Adelaide company, and the tables are structurally stronger.

“These are things that you can’t help and have to learn the hard way. We did fall down there, and that was another loss of twenty odd thousand dollars, which hurt. But when you’re in business, you don’t make the same mistake too many times because you can’t afford it.”

Read Peter’s full Good Business story on weathering a financial crisis, growing global, and trimming down in order to scale up.

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Sharing customer success stories from good businesses around Australia, practical good business guides and the occasional catastrophic muck-up (and how to avoid them).

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