Archive for the ‘Irish Economy’ Category

Incite or Insight?

April 19, 2017

Ena Kenny and Donald Trump, Patrick's Day

Enda Kenny’s St.Patrick Days trip to the U.S. costs the taxpayer €35,000” read the headline in this newspaper article I read at the weekend.

The article documented blow by blow how and where these costs were accumulated as well as the costs of the other Ministers who travelled overseas for our national festival, that day when the whole world acknowledges and celebrates our little country.

St.Patrick would be a great Marketing/PR trick for Ireland if we had planned it!!

The article was designed to incite the reader in a way that we are seeing all too frequently – It is supposed to get us thinking…

This is a total disgrace

What a waste of money

Typical politicians, on a jolly while the rest of us are paying for it

Why does it cost so much, you can fly to the States and back for €500?

Rage, rage and more rage – thanks for exposing this abomination!!

In my humble view, Enda Kenny’s U.S. trip was well worth every cent and much more as he flew a flag for illegal Irish immigrants and our continued trade in the very delicate Trump era. This simple visit will help to preserve our special relationship with an economy that is more than vital to us.

In terms of the cost of the trip do we really expect the leader of our country to travel Economy, take public transport and book into 3-star hotels?!!

Come on guys, less of the headlines that are designed to incite the typical anger and let’s focus on the insights.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

I’m not telling you where it is..

February 5, 2017

Fireside

You can feel everything heating up again..

We spend at least half our working week doing business in Dublin and our home has been a particular hotel, which was located close to the office.

It became a home from home of sorts for years with most of the staff recognising us as we trooped in with our bags week after week. They looked after us really well and we left them lots of business. We had our corporate rate and our bonus nights and they had a regular customer, often at times of the year when Dublin was quiet.

The first sign of things changing was an email last year notifying us that our corporate rate wouldn’t apply on peak weeks. Okay, but wasn’t that the whole point of a corporate rate – a good average rate in exchange for lots of regular business?

The second big sign, which came along a few months later was an email informing us that the corporate rates in 2017 were increasing by 40%. Thank you… it seems that the whole loyalty thing doesn’t quite cut the mustard when things get busier!

So we went shopping for an alternative.

We did find a place, a little further out that gave us a good corporate rate and they assured us that they had a complimentary shuttle service to alleviate the slightly inconvenient location.

On the first day using the new hotel I enquired about the shuttle service – unfortunately the driver was on leave this week so there would be no shuttle service. Okay – Mr Shuttle driver could not be relied on!

I headed on foot to the office and just as I was nearly there I passed a gorgeous little place, an old Georgian house with a sign outside declaring it to be a “hotel”.

I marched up the steps of this beautiful property and pushed the door open to be greeted by a really nice, friendly guy. I asked about rates and asked to see a typical room.

I was so impressed with the package he offered me and the gorgeous rooms and homely atmosphere that I immediately booked us in for a number of weeks ahead. The guy I was dealing with was the owner – the place had been in his family for decades and somehow you knew it had.

Our first stay didn’t disappoint – “Would you like a tea or a coffee?” was just one part of the warm welcome, the room was homely and impeccable and our breakfast was delicious and made to order.

I’m guessing the friendly woman, Agnes who served us was part of the family that owned this special place.

We walked to work, just a few minutes away and there was an extra skip in my step because in all the years that we have been staying overnight in Dublin I have never felt so at home.

So, unfortunately I’m not going to tell you where it is!!

I’ll resist tweeting about it because selfishly I want to keep this place a secret so that there is always a room there for us.

Dublin is booming ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Brexit Scary Monster

January 21, 2017

Old Man drinking a pint by Robert Devereux

Jack walked through the door of his local in the small village in North Cork and made his way slowly with his head down to “his” bar stool.

Alright Jack” asks Mary the bartender who without even asking takes a glass and starts pulling a pint of Guinness. In her 20 years serving Jack he only once asked for a different drink. That was a hot whiskey about 10 years ago when he had a heavy cold!

Jack was unusually quiet and the normal happy go lucky, joke a minute guy was not the person sitting at the bar today.

Jack, are you alright?” Mary probes as she places the creamy pint in front of him.

I’m ok Mary, I’m ok” and the tone of his response didn’t convince her for a second.

He studied his pint and stroked the side of the glass as he always does, before that first taste and he took his first big gulp of the night.

Jack, what’s wrong?” Mary asked

After a big sigh and another gulp of his pint, Jack opened up “I wasn’t sure if I was going to come for a pint tonight. Things are bad

But Jack you always come for a pint, what’s up?

They say it’s going to be a hard Brexit, everyone is saying it. The newspapers, the radio and even Fr. John after mass this morning was talking about it. A hard Brexit is really bad news for all of us.

..he pauses for air and finishes his pint.

I was listening to those two this morning on the radio, Shane Coleman and Colette Fiztwhatever her name is, and they were interviewing some businessman. He was telling them that the whole Brexit thing could actually be good for us, but they told him. It’s bad for us, really bad

Without asking, Mary grabs a glass and starts to fill another pint but Jack gestures to her that he doesn’t want it.

And to cap it all Theresa May is going to trigger Article 50 in March. There will be no more pints for me, I tell ya

Mary grabbed the glass again and started filling another pint.

Jack, do you even know what Article 50 is? This pint is on the house and will you do me a big favour?

What Mary?

Will you ever cheer up and stop listening to those gobshites talking negative day in day out and enjoy your pint

Thanks Mary, I’ll do that”.

He is smiling now, enjoying his pint “Did you hear the one about Donald Trump and his Mexican golf caddy in Doonbeg?” 

No Jack. What about Donald Trump and the Mexican golf caddy? 

The Mexican caddy told him that if he kept losing balls like that he should think about building the wall here instead

She smiled and hoped the next one would be better but at least Jack was back!

While Mary and Jack are fictitious characters I can imagine conversations like this all over the country. I read and hear the negativity about Brexit everywhere and the truth is we really have no idea how it will play out for Ireland.

What I do know for sure is that if we are not careful we will talk ourselves into another recession.

Mary..another pint please and have one yourself

The wonderful image of the man drinking a pint is by artist Robert Devereux (http://robertdevereux.blogspot.ie/2015/06/old-irish-man-drinking-guinness-oil.html)

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

Apple taxation and 1st World Problems

September 4, 2016

Apple - Irish Tax

What a bizarre scenario!

The EU want to charge Apple for back taxes to the tune of €13 billion – Ireland are supposed to get this money and we are all in a flap because this is an unlawful challenge to our tax system so we are appealing!!

Of course the giant have made colossal money and their tax gurus have used every possible loophole and structure to avoid paying the taxes that we get clobbered with.

Is this right and moral? – this is a great question but Ireland has had this fantastic “anchor tenant” in our country, which has no doubt helped us to attract other high profile foreign tenants.

Pierre Moscovici, the EU commissioner for economic and financial affairs, has said the commission is “certain” its decision to charge Apple €13 billion in back taxes is legally valid and he went on to say  “There will be no particular targets, and no particular indulgence. No one will escape. Nothing will stop this revolution of transparency.”

Pierre wants to start his own revolution!!

It’s all very strange timing from the EU coming on the heels of the Brexit vote – are they now walloping us for being so adamant and vocal about the importance of our relationship with the U.K.?

In the meantime our government aren’t taking this “attack” lying down as Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan have launched their own blistering attack on Europe over its ruling, accusing Brussels of using the scandal to create a “bridgehead” to target Ireland’s 12.5% corporation tax.

Our language got even stronger as they claimed the European Commission was “bullying” Ireland in the same way it did during the bailout.

The boxing gloves are well and truly on with the EU.

The Cabinet made a “unanimous” decision to appeal against the ruling but then the politicians started playing their usual games and two ministers undermined this stance when they said they still believe multinationals are not paying enough to the State. Doh!

It’s all very odd and confusing and it makes you wonder about the world we live in where the story of a genius company led by the true revolutionary, Steve Jobs comes crashing into the story of world politics and taxes or should we just say money.

These are very strange first world problems that other parts of the world would love to have right now..

Boy in ambulance in Syria

This is the recent photograph of five-year-old Omran Daqneesha who was sitting dazed and bloodied in the back of an ambulance after surviving a regime airstrike in Aleppo, highlighting the desperation of the Syrian civil war.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communicatons who offer Marketing, PR, GraphicDesign services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Avoiding Brevenge

July 1, 2016

Brexit - NIgel Farage

Brevenge is my new word..

The last week has been horrible ..

We watched as the ‘leave‘ campaigners for Brexit celebrated their unexpected “win” – there was cockiness, arrogance and a big dose of “F##k You Europe” that was delivered with a huge lack of finesse and zero respect.

We heard the speeches in Europe and we listened to the laughing by the Brexiteers and we then heard European officials reacting to this with their own dose of bitterness and recrimination.

If you want out, get out now

On the ground non-UK residents working and living in the UK feel unwelcome in a place that many considered was their home and this hasn’t been helped by yobs who claim they “want them out“. Of course, not everyone is like this.

Stopping immigration was a big emotive message by the ‘leave‘ campaign and this effectively was directed at anyone living and working in the UK who is not from there and those who might consider living there in the future – a big penny dropped with young people from the UK that their ‘explore the world‘ ambitions have now been shackled by the consequences of the referendum.

Beach

Scotland are regretting their lack of independence and are passionately making noises about staying in Europe. Northern Ireland wants the same and it is clear that London certainly wants the same. Those from the UK living across Europe are wondering what their position is as they walk along their sandy beaches every day in Spain and beyond and contemplating how much further their income will drop due to currency changes.

When the results were analysed and the exit polls were conducted it was clear that the working class and the poor communities in the UK felt left behind and abandoned by politicians and big business and a way of registering this anger was by voting for a change and against the establishment.

Companies were dictating to their employees how they wanted them to vote (Nissan in Sunderland was a prime example) and once again this was an opportunity to deliver a big “F##k You…I work for you but don’t you dare tell me what to do!! (the same happened in Ireland during the recent General Elections – is there a big trend?)

It now seems that many were quite unclear about what they were voting for and many of the ‘selling points‘ that were presented by the leave campaign were proven false and this has left a very poor taste in people’s mouths.

Sterling has weakened and stock markets have shuddered with colossal amounts being wiped off company values everywhere, which in turn will affect pension funds. Companies who operate in the UK are reconsidering their positions and already we are hearing that plans to expand have been cancelled. The big, bold and brave Richard Branson is claiming that he has cancelled a project in the UK that would have resulted in 1,000 jobs – not good!

The Irish aren’t happy because we do lots of business with the UK – will Europe allow small little Ireland special flexibility to deal with the UK? If they are in the angry mood that we are currently witnessing they are more likely to give the UK a kicking than a special deal. We are worried and angry about their questionable decision.

At a time when the UK needs strong leadership and stability we are seeing resignations, backstabbing and jockeying for position by those only too willing to enjoy the spoils of power as a result of this debacle.

The young, the old, people from the UK, Europeans working and living there, the Scots, Northern Ireland, the expats on sunny beaches, the Irish and the Europeans – everyone is angry!

At this time it is more important than ever that we stay calm, that we show respect, that our decision making and key next steps are all made with cool, clear heads.

Tony Blair - Brexit

Tony Blair in an article in the Daily Telegraph delivers a special message and a stark warning:

Our nation is in peril. To allow us to come safely through this we need to be adult in our politics, to proceed with calm, maturity and without bitterness; because our future as a nation in the world and as the UK itself is at stake.

He is right!

A second referendum might be a very good idea to ensure that this huge change of direction has been properly thought out and made with all of the information and a clear understanding of the consequences, which will be felt for a long time.

The EU also needs to take a good, long hard look in the mirror and figure out why a key partner and an important and influential global force such as the UK has decided to walk away – please listen and learn from this!

The EU must also be adult in their politics and act with “calm, maturity and without bitterness”

All parties in this complex mess need to do what is best and not what is motivated by anger and the quest for…

Brevenge

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

Housing is the vital first step to progress

November 30, 2015

Dublin Docklands

Before we do anything we have to focus on the housing opportunity. Nothing else will work properly without attending to this key issue first.

I attended a really interesting session hosted by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce to discuss the Draft Dublin City Development Plan. There was a big attendance by the top property companies in Dublin as well as other key stakeholders.

There was a presentation by John O’Hara, Acting City Planner of the Dublin City Council. He carefully outlined the areas around Dublin that have been specifically earmarked for development.

The big message from his presentation is that there is a huge demand for residential accommodation and the challenge for the city is to deliver this with the limited space that is available as quick as possible.

There is also big demand for quality office space – however without places for people to live extra offices will only cause problems.

Dublin City Plan image

John Moran, Managing Director of Jones Lane LaSalle (JLL) presented their medium term outlook on the property market in Dublin.

The highlights of this presentation were big demand for office and residential property matched with insufficient supply and a rising hotel market with 85% occupancy, one of the highest in Europe. Being practical about it (and it will be very unpopular to say) maybe its a good thing that the Web Summit will be in Portugal next year? – we won’t have the hotel capacity otherwise!

Quite tellingly we heard about two FDI projects that Dublin lost to overseas locations due to lack of sufficient office space. While this was a loss (the people in the audience were concerned when we heard this) would we have been able to provide accommodation to the workers needed in these companies ?

He also spoke about rising rents putting pressure on employees. This is simple – the employee looks for a raise because their rent has been increased by €200 per month – their problem becomes the employers problem and this wage increase (its takes a lot more than €200 to put an extra €200 in a persons pay packet) will be passed onto the customer and before you know it we are uncompetitive all over again.

How did we get back to this place so quickly?

Brendan Foster of Grant Thornton took us through a very interesting case study for a proposed National Concert Hall Quarter, which would deliver considerable much needed city centre office and residential space.

Crwods

A few things struck me about the session:

Are we not talking?

I was really surprised at the discussion in the room – it struck me that these vested interests had to be brought together by the Chamber for these important conversations to take place. Surely these vital conversations should be happening for more than just 60 minutes? This is very worrying – joined up thinking is required to tackle such a huge issue and a Draft Development Plan for our capital should have much bigger input.

Business first

We all tend to think first about business, attracting more of it, making sure that quality office space is available – both for the big multinationals and the smaller indigenous start ups and service providers.

I could feel the frustration in the room when John O’Hara spent so much time talking about accommodation – we wanted to talk about business, BUT…

Housing is the most important issue that we have to get right very quickly – without this nothing else will happen!

It is clear that Dublin is seriously ‘overcooked‘ and there are serious issues with the supply of social housing, private and accommodation for rental.

If we don’t first sort out the housing challenge quickly in Dublin we should forget about attracting foreign direct investment and encouraging indigenous growth (I hate making that statement) in the city as it will cause further overheating, which we are not able to handle.

Huge Opportunity

The housing challenge in its own right is a huge economic opportunity, which we need to do everything to grasp and facilitate as a huge priority, right now if we want to progress.

Lets start building ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, who conduct brand workshops for clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway budget – Yes Please!

October 10, 2015

Michael Noonan - Budget

I’m listening to the commentary and the opinions about the upcoming budget.

Already the accusations are flying that Fine Gael/Labour will be trying to ‘buy’ the next election by making this a giveaway budget – putting smiles on voters faces and all of the different vested interests is a terrible thing?

I’m reading the Irish Examiner and DKM Economic Consultants are questioning the need for the government to pump significant sums into the economy this budget.

Their chairman Brendan Dowling has stated “As market conditions improve and the recovery takes hold, one may question the need for additional fiscal expansion in the upcoming budget

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) are making the same noises: “expansionary budgets could inflate the economy“.

This bunch went even further and requested in their latest report that “the government reverse its plan for €1.5bn of spending and tax cuts“. The report author stated “the increase in the pace of economic growth reinforces the case for a neutral budget this year” and “a reduction in personal taxation is not required for growth in household consumption

Guys … you have got to be kidding me?

The stats show our economy is growing at 6% but surely this is from quite a low base. Personal consumption is starting to grow not because of a huge increase in incomes but because confidence is returning and people are not petrified of spending.

In the last few years big chunks have been taken from all of our pay packets and we deserve to start getting some of this back as things improve – we have to start enjoying the fruits of our labour once again.

Ann Cahill has written a fantastic article in the same issue about how “Workers are ‘left behind’ in Recovery” – this is a fact based article based on the Eurostat report.

Please look at the unemployment figures – we have one of the highest numbers of long term unemployed in the European Union. Take a look at the issues we have with homelessness.

Take one look at the empty shops in our villages, towns and cities and wonder why is this the case? Thankfully there is some progress here and we are starting to see new places opening but there is still a huge way to go.

I welcome with open arms any increase in spending and reductions in taxes – let it come into our pockets and let us enjoy spending it and let us carefully get back to a much better country than the one we have right now.

Giveaway budget.. Yes Please! 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Housing Crisis or Housing Opportunity?

September 29, 2015

housing opportunity

I was sitting on a plane coming back from London on the late flight and I noticed someone a few seats ahead of me on the opposite side flicking through the newspaper. I hadn’t tuned into the news that day so I was trying to soak up the headlines as best I could to get some hint as to what was going on.

Headlines are quite dangerous because often they are designed to catch your attention and the actual content may not fully reflect the ‘story’ that is portrayed. You only discover this when you actually read the article but often we never get that opportunity as when we are busy we flick the pages of the newspaper and very quickly we start to consume the ‘headlines‘ as the actual stories.

This headline had the words ‘Housing Crisis‘ in it and as it would imply there must be a housing crisis. I have read these words in so much coverage lately that it would be correct in assuming that we have a big  ‘housing crisis‘ on our hands.

If you Google the words ‘housing crisis‘ you will get a mountain of listings with many published in the last few days.

When we read the articles you will hear about the lack of supply, small numbers of houses being built, negative equity, repossessions, rising rents, tighter controls over bank lending, NAMA and developers sitting on land banks and a looming homelessness crisis.

For the most part it is all negative rhetoric and that word ‘crisis’ is bring used over and over, so much so that we should all get depressed.

In any other industry if you were to describe this exact set of circumstances we would be using the words ‘opportunity‘ instead:

  • There is high demand for the products and lack of supply
  • The demographics indicate that this demand will sustain itself into the future
  • Prices are rising due to demand but there are also low interest rates and an improving economy
  • Employment levels and income are rising
  • Fulfilling this demand (10,000 units per annum extra) will create 25,000 extra jobs
  • More jobs means more ability to pay, creating even more demand
  • Demand will generate income for the government
  • Demand will stimulate growth in supporting industries

Why aren’t we using the word opportunity and looking at the upside and the huge positives?

If this was any other sector, businesses would be seizing the opportunities and they would be supported by the banks. If we could create 25,000 new jobs there would be all sorts of supports and incentives on offer by the government.

And what about all of the ancillary products and services? – the carpets, curtains, tiling, fittings, furniture and electrical sales which would come after all of the professional services. That would be a huge amount of economic activity.

When it comes to property we are suspicious, we are fearful it will ‘overcook‘ the economy once again and we feel that any incentives given to consumers will be abused by the developers. It’s an industry that we distrust and the word ‘greed‘ seems to automatically apply because of the excess of the Celtic Tiger, which is still fresh in all our minds.

Despite this negativity around the industry I am very puzzled  that no one is writing about these obvious positives so I have a peep at the Construction Industry Federation website to see what they are saying.

I find a copy of a press release dated 4th September 2015 with the heading “Six steps to increasing housing supply and stimulate growth in the economy“.

They could just be right ..

The best way to solve our ‘housing crisis’ is to seize the housing opportunity.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Michael Cawley, Cork Airport and “What’s the Point?”

May 2, 2015

Cork City

It was my first time listening to Cork born Michael Cawley, the Chairman of Failte Ireland and former Ryanair deputy CEO and Commercial Director. He was speaking at a business anniversary breakfast for Paul O’Donovan and Associates, Accountants.

Everyone is a product of what they do and Michael a former accountant and a senior member of the Ryanair team for 17 years is certainly a product of his career.

At first he spoke a lot of sense and he believes that everything starts with great management. He spoke about Dubai “a hole in the ground” and how great management has turned the place into a major travel destination.

He then spoke about the Irish tourism and hospitality sector, which employs 205,000 people. He reckons this could easily rise by another 50,000 but says we must ‘elevate’ how we view the industry and start respecting the work that people do in it.

Cork Airport – hopelessly uncompetitive

He then went on to talk about the €17 landing charges at Cork Airport that he says makes the airport “hopelessly uncompetitive“.

He expanded on this by talking about the Ryanair perspective “The passengers belong to the airline, not to the airports. The airlines will seek to make money, whether that is in Bari or in Cork“.

While this message was delivered with all of the arrogance you would expect from a Ryanair executive it gives you a clear insight into the thinking of airlines that are removing routes from Cork Airport.

However he makes a good argument and suggested that if the airport wants to compete for traffic it must drop the rates, suggesting that the region could even subsidise it because passengers will spend significant money when they visit. We must look at the big picture.

All of this makes perfect sense and those running Cork Airport need to start listening and start to view Cork as an economic gateway to our region instead of a stand alone cost centre. If this requires some write off of the debt then it will be no different to so much other debt that has been written off in Ireland over the last five years.

Michael Cawley, Failte IrelandMichael went on to give some general business advice to those gathered in the room “You must define your competitive advantage to be successful

He explained that in Ryanair’s case “price” was it and this was achieved by relentlessly driving down costs .. airport landing charges is clearly a big part of this and in Cork’s case it is easy to see how we are losing Ryanair routes to Shannon and other locations.

He also spoke about the importance of “innovation” and in his view driving costs down is the ultimate innovation – I don’t agree with this as I detest what Ryanair represent and I hate how they have wrecked the flight experience, which was a ‘treat’ many moons ago, even if it was a lot more expensive.

Bring back the peanutsI say!

Michael joined the panel at the end of this breakfast briefing whereby guests were able to ask questions – I asked the question “What did the panel feel was the unique selling point of Cork?

Michael took this one on and gave the room his very worrying opinion of Cork – We should get over ourselves and realise that we are not as special as we think. All talk of us being a “competitor” in a European context is silly as Ireland is really about Dublin.

..I couldn’t believe I was hearing this

Even worse he reckoned that it was pointless for money to be invested promoting Cork as it was not a proposition worth promoting.

When a Cork born Chairman of Failte Ireland holds this view it is very concerning – who is going to subsidise Cork Airport’s costs/landing charges (as he suggested) if no one believes it is a region worth investing in?

Michael …

I 100% disagree with you and as much as I respect your role and your ‘cost squeezing’ experience I think you and your colleagues in Dublin are misguided.

Cork is a very special place for both tourism and business as we witnessed in our research on the Cork Brand Marketing project and a few others have noticed too ..

Lonely Planet were the first to start talking about our ‘friendly city’ and the Huffington Post included Cork in a list of “Overlooked European Cities you must visit in a lifetime

Please take a fresh look at the place that you were originally from and ask the question..why are we so overlooked?

All of us in Cork, our business and tourism groups, our stakeholders and politicians need to start making a lot of noise if we want something in change.

As for Michael…thanks for the helpful insight

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Tenders that are anything but

February 19, 2015

Tenders

I’ve had enough ..

The call came through directly to us that we were invited to tender for supplying social media training services across the country for this state body (I won’t mention who it was for the  moment).

Alarm bell number one..

Why wasn’t this put out to tender on the normal etender website I wondered?

I get quite suspicious when this happens – isn’t there a normal procedure for this?

Alarm bell number two..

We received the specification for this training and I was really surprised by how specific it was and by some of the language used. The objective was outlined clearly and it was up to the service providers to provide a solution. The thing is the ‘solution‘ was nearly fully mapped out in the specification.

One of the challenges for us was that the prescribed ‘solution’ would not achieve the required objectives.

We were well qualified to deliver a comprehensive solution for this organisation and we have huge relevant experience in the area so we went about writing a plan. This work took me the best part of a day to complete.

Alarm bell number three..

There was a very unusual item in the specification advising that the provider should budget “in a range of between €21,000 and €24,000“.

Why would a state organisation provide anyone tendering with a price guide? This was particularly surprising when the published ‘marking criteria‘ included cost.

Is it not up to each provider to assess the need and then provide a budget to fulfil this need?

Our proposal ..

We completed our proposal and included a more comprehensive training schedule than what was prescribed in their specification, clearly explaining why less training would not achieve their objectives.

I priced this using our normal rates and I was surprised that despite the heavier workload our budget came in a few thousand under the €21,000 – €24,000 price range as indicated.

We submitted our proposal and crossed our fingers – this was a really well thought out substantial and comprehensive evaluation and training plan.

Just like every proposal you work on, you end up investing your time and a little part of yourself in them and you become hopeful – on this proposal we were definitely hopeful.

Alarm bell number four – time to evacuate the building!!

We received our ‘Dear John‘ letter within days of submitting the proposal and we also received our score compared to the winning proposal based on the evaluation criteria.

On ‘methodology and fit for purpose‘ we scored 1,800 out of 3,000.

Surprise,surprise …the winning provider scored a full 3,000!!

Our methodology took their specification and went deeper and more comprehensive – I could feel the rage starting to build inside me.

A score of 1,800 means we barely know what we are doing ..

On ‘quality and balance of resources proposed‘ we scored 2,800 out of 3,500.

Surprise, surprise (once again!!)…the winning provider scored a full 3,500!!

Wow …they must be brilliant. Like those kids in school who get 100% out of 100% for everything.

The rage was starting to brim over … the cat, the dog, the laptop, the office door – nothing was safe (don’t worry I just cursed a lot!)

On ‘cost‘ we scored 3,500 out of 3,500..Jackpot!

Surprise, surprise …we beat the winning provider because our costs were below what was prescribed in the tender document. My accounting training was starting to pay off!

Rules and regulations..

I feel sorry for the government agencies as they are obliged to put things out to tender even when they might have a preferred provider. This ‘technically‘ means there is always 100% transparency, fairness and honesty and equal opportunity for everyone.

90% of the providers I have met have given up on this tender process because they believe it is a farce and a colossal waste of time and anything but fair.

In the commercial world we can work with whoever we want and when we want even if providers are more expensive – this makes business easy as we can just get on with things and not be forced into a painful ‘tender’ process every single time we want to get our business done.

However, these rules are in place and when these agencies are obliged to put things out to tender this commits anyone (fools like us) who is interested in the work to spend a lot of time working on proposals.

If the process is genuine we will play the game and put our best foot forward and let the best crew win.

When it is not and we are being used unfairly just so that the agency can ‘tick the box‘ on their technical obligations it is a much different manner.

What can we do??

This time I have had enough and I am complaining, freedom of information, the whole nine yards and I don’t care about the consequences.

The dilemma we all have is that ‘we don’t want to be seen as the troublemakers‘ and if we complain then we run the risk of not getting some crumbs from the table down the road.

We pay our taxes, which pays for these state agencies and if these rules are in place I won’t put up with anyone wasting our precious time just so they can tick a box and give the business to their favoured supplier.

I’ll let you know how this one goes…

Update !!

A lot of people have contacted me since I published this post.

Many are irate and have given up on the tender system as they feel it is anything but. Some have criticised me and told me that we are naive to expect any of this to be a chance of winning business – ‘play the game‘ and get in there before things go to tender, which is how you win things I am told.

I desperately want to believe that this system can work fairly and that it is a valid way of winning business.

With that rationale I did officially complain and as expected I didn’t get very far..

There were explanations

Performance – the winning company apparently committed to seven times more activity than what was outlined in the brief. I can’t see how this would be necessary and I struggle to see how the teams would be free to attend that much training. We will keep a careful eye on that one.

Budget – they told me that it is their “normal practice” to give a budget guideline to be fair to everyone tendering. I don’t think I have seen this in a tender, at least not the ones we have entered.

The unexplained

It turns out another company who tendered for the work scored exactly the same as we did on the criteria except for the cost element. An incredible coincidence …what do you think?

They contacted me when they saw this post and have decided not to complain as they want to make sure that they do get those ‘crumbs from the table‘ the next time they might be going.

Maybe they are right!

Next steps .. lets see

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland