There was water all over the bathroom floor. The basin was leaking. I just knew this would happen on a Saturday.
This is your basic nightmare when you do Bed and Breakfast. Normally our little sideline is completely trouble free – ever since we moved the guests into the garage, christened it “The Studio” and told them what fun it would be to get their own breakfast.
But when you have water all over the bathroom floor, something has to be done about it – and fast.
I started calling plumbers. Fortunately I have a long list of plumbers – all those who looked at my business and turned it down because they didn’t have enough time. Now I rang them again, leaving desperate messages one after another…
Now, in order to ensure that readers’ stress levels do not get out of hand, I must tell you that the first one I called rang back within ten minutes, came round the fixed the leak. But that’s not the point of the story.
The point of the story is that I then ended up talking to all those plumbers who had looked at the business years ago and who I had now phoned in a blind panic. To a man, they called back. The conversations went something like this: “Thanks for getting back to me but I’ve found someone now. Yes, you panic don’t you… I expect you get that a lot.
“Actually, come to think of it, the last time we talked, do you remember what it was about? It was about you making money in your spare time. Tell me, are you in the same situation financially or did you find a way to increase your income?”
Of course, like every other traditional business, they were feeling the effects of the recession. So I was able to say: “We’ve got an open evening in Ipswich on Monday, how do you fancy coming? Things have changed a lot since you last looked at it. For instance now we’re in partnership with Sainsbury’s and Boots and B&Q and Mothercare.”
The last time I did this, there was a silence on the other end of the line. Then: “What do you mean a partnership.”
So I did my three minute thing. I told him how we had 200 people in the club whose discounts were more than their bills so they paid nothing at all. I told him how most people now saved between 20% and 30%.
He was mesmerised – you can tell when someone is mesmerised. As it turns out he has a function to go to at his daughters’s school on Monday night. But he wanted me to send him something to look at .
Now I don’t know whether the plumber is going to join. But looking at my notes, I discover that he knows the company of old. He’s been a plumber for eight years and hates chasing the money. Moreover, he wants to spend more time playing golf and retire early…
Do you think it was fortuitous that the basin leaked?
What I’m wondering now is whether it would be ethical to invent a completely fictitious emergency with the fuse box and ring all the electricians who are still thinking about it… or a computer crash and ring IT specialists…
The possibilities are limitiless!