Are you doing Bad Business?

Judge Judy

Are you doing Bad Business?

I sat in the corridors of the Cork District Court for about 6 hours last week waiting for a really stupid case to be heard between us and our previous landlord.

Apparently Monday is HSE day at the District Court and these cases can drag on a little if they are not settled – the whole scenario is very strange with all sorts wandering around, many bored and others huddled in corners negotiating and planning. The odd person walks by with tears in their eyes – didn’t quite work out the way they wanted!

I wasted a full day at the court, my solicitor wasted a full day and the people on the other side wasted a full day, the judge wasted his time for something that should never have gone as far as the court.

Who won? – truthfully.. no one  – I felt like I was in an episode of Judge Judy and the the outcome was fine from my point of view with  Judge O’Leary (I was not expecting his approach to the case) slapping the landlord across the knuckles for not being better at minding his building and his “customers”. To be fair to the Judge it was late in the day and he must have been tired and not in the mood to listen to this “nothing” case – there must be a better way of ensuring that court time does not get taken up with rubbish? He did however give the case his full attention.

It was quite funny as I presented pictures of the front of the old building to the judge – the old saying, a picture paints a  1,000 words applied as the Judge reviewed the cobwebs on top of cobwebs pictures and then listened to how the landlord visits the building up to two times a week and checks everything. The other side argued that the pictures were irrelevant as they were just taken!

My day was  worth a lot more than the outcome and the pointless hassle that went on. A little bit of reasonableness and this could have been long sorted – the eventual result? – a compromise offer I made to sort it out 6 months beforehand is exactly where the whole thing eventually turned out! Having said all that I am sure that the little experience of sitting in the box, preparing an argument will stand to me later down the line for more stupidity at some point.

This was all about Bad Business ..

Day one we had hassle with this guy even before the lease was signed – ultimatums etc – Trust your gut and walk away when you get any hint of this – we didn’t – Bad Business

We have secured a judgement against a business in Dublin that we were dealing with and who owed us a lot of money – they still haven’t paid after a lot of hassle. They were terrible from the very first moment – not turning up for meetings and then leaving us wait forever at other times. They were inefficient, sloppy, constantly changing staff and changing their minds. We should have trusted our gut and walked away, we didn’t – Bad Business

I’m sure most of you have heard about Famous and the Credit Control Warrior at this stage – just read my blog about this saga. This is another one that will do the rounds with solicitors. We wasted more time working on the account and more again chasing what is due to us. I should probably leave it off at this stage but I don’t want him to get 1% satisfaction of walking away from anything after the way we were laughed at when we looked for our payment (I’m getting angry again just thinking about it). We should have trusted our gut in the first place and never agreed to take on this work, we didn’t  – Bad Business

We deal with a printer who are really awful to deal with. They are some of the most unpleasant people that we have to deal with. We still buy from them as their prices and quality are good – as soon as another viable option  comes along we are using someone else. I resent placing orders with them and hate ever having to lift the phone to deal with them  – Bad Business

Often the Bad Business is our own fault as we should know better and trust our instincts from the beginning. I guess at times in the depths of recession you will take on business if things are quiet but this doesn’t change the eventual outcome.

Are you doing Bad Business?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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18 Responses to “Are you doing Bad Business?”

  1. Trich Says:

    Lesson learnt, go with your gut. Good business ;)

    • Greg Canty Says:

      As always Trich you are spot on and straight to the point – I am always aware of what my gut is saying but for some crazy reason in these scenarios it gets ignored as there is always another reason – our lad in Dublin needs more business, worried about the recession and levels of business, a sector we would love to learn more about …. none of these reasons are ever worth it .

      As Trich says – Lesson learnt, go with your gut (always!). Good business.

  2. Alec Drew Says:

    Greg,

    Good article and I hear you loudly. All business owners have experienced the various situations you describe and there is only one consolation – hopefully, you have learnt from it. Gut instinct is more important than people realise and you should pay attention to it. In fact we should create some basic rules for business and I will start them off with;

    1. Listen to your gut instinct.
    2. Customers/clients who want it cheap, want it yesterday and are the biggest messers usually are the slowest payers.
    3. Those who want a big discount on the first job but promise to pay full price for the big job coming down the track, don’t. (my solution is to charge full price on the first job and offer a retrospective discount on the’big’ job. That usually chases them away.)

    Anybody got any more?

    • Greg Canty Says:

      some great tips Alec ..

      Another one we learnt was to watch out for the crew who make a big deal of wanting to pay up front – this is a “trick”!

  3. Conor Buckley Says:

    Great post Greg. I was thinking of a few of our own business relationships as I read through the post, where we felt it was the wrong move but went in anyway – Bad Business as you would say. Challenging revenue goals often encourage you to act this way but agree fully that you should trust your instinct as it always costs you far more in time and grief afterwards.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Hi Conor,

      I think in nearly every “bad business” situation we ended up in our instincts had told us so initially – it rarely ends up the opposite way!

      Greg

  4. audreymcsweeney Says:

    Greg – you’re singing my song! The only problem is that if you want / need the business you’ll stick with it ‘just in case’ they turn out to be ok. Unfortunatley, more often than not, your gut will have been right. But the next time, you’ll do exact the same again.. just in case!

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Great view Audrey – I guess it depends on what you have to lose by doing business.

      If it is the time of your team (and you can manage the workload) or it is space in your newspaper or radio station (that you may not have sold otherwise) then maybe it is ok to take a risk. If not be very careful.

      The real cost can be the time and frustration after and the other costs such as solicitors etc if you go down that route. The other big cost is your state of mind – it is easy to slip into a “negative” place when you get burnt – bad business means bad motivation..

      Greg

  5. Peter Fry Says:

    All I can do is shake my head at some things I read like this!

    For printing try the guys in Kerry, they are a pleasure to deal with, I’m sorry I forget what they are called, the guy who sold the photograph company and started this new online printing service

    – you don’t have to deal with unpleasant people especially as things are so hard for printers at the moment, others will give you good prices, deliver on time….and be pleasant to deal with!

  6. John Leahy Says:

    If you’re looking for justice avoid court. It’s not the court’s job to provide you with justice or retribution. Court will decide Civil cases ‘on the balance of probability’ (King Solomon) and Criminal cases are about punishing the criminal for his crime against society. Better looking at it like an accountant – am I looking at ‘sunk costs’ or will I get a return on my investment or as the lawyers would say ‘am I throwing good money after bad?’

    Generally ending up in court is Bad Business. It is a hard-learned lesson but ‘No Business’ is better than Bad Business especially if it sucks the value from your Good Business (let me count the ways). The tendency, especially in the current climate, is to feel like a muppet for turning any business down but you owe it to your company to make the distinction and take the hard decision and avoid the likes of Famous who enhances his margin at your expense. You also owe it to next potential victim not to subsidise Famous’s business model. Sooner or later BB will bite you on the A.

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Great advice John – the court thing is a total waste – Famous is playing a big game as he can – he knows how to hide behind the whole system – I’m sure he is quite the expert at this stage!

      He is in my sights for all sorts of reasons but I think that is the end of my legal exploits – Famous last words? (no pun intended!!)

  7. Tony Cain Says:

    Greg – great post as usual, the danger with going to court is you just do not know what you’re going to come away with.

    Interesting to note gut feelings generally turn out to be correct.

    If you’re looking for a printer, try Alan Galvin at Print XPress on the Tramore Road.

    Thanks Again for the posting

    Tony

  8. Conor Bofin Says:

    Hi Greg,
    Excellent post. The old saying goes: “Lie down with dogs and you will get up with fleas”. I have been running First Advertising for over 18 years now. I would love to say we don’t do bad business. But every once in a while, I or somebody on the team make a bad call on doing business with somebody. That then leads to endless messing, legal bills, frustration and most importantly, opportunity cost. Ultimately, all business is done with people. We need to research the reputation and the creditworthiness of everybody with whom we think of working. If they are any way iffy, walk away. If they offer post dated cheques, walk away. If they appear to be too good to be true, it’s true, so walk away. Never be afraid to get paid up front from somebody who you don’t know. If they have a problem paying up front, they have a problem paying, so walk away. If they take offence and talk about their reputation, walk away. You could be doing a lot of walking but it’s better than trying to scratch those flea bites. I know, I am scratching one as I type…..

    • Greg Canty Says:

      Conor – I absolutely love your post and the analogy with fleas!! There is one particular flea ridden dog that has wasted a lot of our time and continues to do us – thankfully the Credit Control Warrior (read the blog post if you get a chance) has opened the eyes of a lot of people and the flea epidemic has not spread too much!

      Best of luck with your latest flea ridden creature – Greg

  9. Seymour Says:

    Hi there, I check your new stuff on a regular basis.
    Your writing style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

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