How are mistakes handled in your organization? Is there a Mistake Management Plan? 

One that facilitates masterful mistake management?    One that helps you make the best of the way things turn out – including a good return on investment?

Kim Duval planned a surprise birthday party for her husband, Bill. It was to be held at one of his favorite spots, Studio 91, and his favorite carrot cake from Sugarland Bakery was to be served.

A few hours before the party, Kim and two of her kids went to Sugarland to pick up the cake.

It wasn’t ready.

It wasn’t even in the works.

In fact, there was no sign of the order Kim had called in days earlier.

When Kim told me about this, she described Sugarland owner, Katrina Ryan as ““the Queen of Calm and Customer Service Extraordinaire”. Kim said, “She simply and sincerely shared her regret that a mistake had been made and rolled out her red carpet to the three of us.”

”Red carpet treatment”  meant that Kim and her crew got to enjoy coffee, multiple samplings of gelato, plus a much needed break to relax and decompress from a hectic day of work, school and party prep.   All while Katrina “worked her magic”.   

Twenty minutes later, the cake was ready. It was beautiful. And it was free.

Kim, the kids and the cake got to the party on time.

Bill was surprised. The party was fun. And the cake tasted great.

Sugarland’s handling of this mistake hinted at the presence of a mistake management plan and showed masterful implementation with the customer.   The cost of handling it this way?   A free cake, free gelato and free coffee –  certainly less than $100. 

Their return on this “investment”?  

Kim has returned time and again to purchase goodies for things like Easter baskets, hostess gifts and dinner parties. Plus she has sent referral after referral – sharing accolades about Sugarland’s “personal delivery and commitment to customer service, the amazing gelato selection, delicious cakes…and did I mention the cupcakes yet?”

Safe to say Sugarland’s measurable financial return on investment with Kim is well over 100%.  And safe to say the value of Kim as a customer is priceless.

To be truly masterful, some follow up action needed to be taken behind the scenes – like looking into and correcting whatever caused Kim’s cake order to disappear.  The solution could have been simple – like a communication or training correction. Or if this was a frequent error, a new system might have been needed.  I don’t know if that part happened or not.   If it did…it would be icing on the cake.  Sorry – couldn’t resist.

Thanks, Kim for sharing this story.  And thanks to Katrina Ryan at  Sugarland for serving as a great role model for masterful mistake management.

In celebration of Mistake Management Month, we’re looking for four more stories about masterful mistake management in ChapelboroDo you have one to share?

Please type it below or send it to

Note: Mistake Management Month is an annual Business Class tradition during which we observe the way individuals, leaders and teams manage mistakes – and the resulting impact on their organizations.  
The purpose: To raise awareness of the benefits and how-to’s of masterful mistake management.

The goal:   Long range – wouldn’t it be great for all organizations in Chapelboro to be masters of mistake management?  For  this year, the  goal is to simply double the number of organizations in Chapelboro that show signs of it – measured by the number of stories collected and shared here on  

How realistic is this goal?  We have four such stories right now.  All we need is four more.  SURELY there are four more businesses in Chapelboro that show  signs of masterful mistake management!

Related Articles: