Almost twelve months ago i sat in an office with the air conditioning off. Humidity was at an a unexpected high and the rain pelted against the the windows. A piece of old butchers paper was pinned to the wall above my desk, the corners disheveled, small rips were starting around the edges. Scribbled in red marker pen across the paper were marketing concepts for the next few months.
Words had been randomly etched across the paper that made complete and logical sense at the time. These words now read as some sort of encrypted code. They trigger confusion and leave one bewildered as to the message we were attempting to document. Ironically this scribbling of notes was a futile attempt to secure an idea and prevent it from departing this world forever in a cloud of smoke and fire.
At the very bottom in almost illegible writing and misspelt were the words “share holders”.
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My understanding of share holders at the time was limited. My belief was it involved overweight business men, most of whom had military backgrounds, suffered from high blood pressure and mild personality disorders. Men who sat around in board meetings discussing agendas for further meetings, selecting “spirit animals” and debating the need for beanbags for the influx of millennial employees they were expecting. The same men who develop unhealthy eating habits, can’t understand why these millennial staff members can’t get to work before 11:30am and sit around getting angry at one another until one develops a heart conditioned. I thought these men would give me money in exchange for profit share in my business. Effectively I was expecting to sell off a portion of my life’s work to a bloke who needed assistance putting his shoes on in the morning.
I got a call from one of my staff. She asked me to come to front reception and talk to a client.
I came down from my office to find a small white hatchback parked in the doorway of the workshop. Both bumper bars were hanging on for dear life; with more paint missing from them than there was left on the vehicle. A tissue box and a large wicker brimmed hat sat on the dash board. The aroma of lavender filled the workshop and the token back support insert sat lonesome on the drivers seat. Dear Dolores was in the reception explaining to to one of my staff members that her driver’s side rear vision mirror had just fallen off. I walked through to reception past the hatchback. A car that was now decades old but had less than twenty thousand kilometres on it. The drivers side of the vehicle had been opened up like an IED had gone off. A makeshift racing stripe complete with brick dust and a small piece of render wiring was now embedded in three of the car’s four panels on the drivers side.
The rear vision mirror was no where to be seen, the electrical wiring for the mirror hung limp from the bracket that used to house a shiny white mirror housing. I entered the office to overhear our delusional senior citizen explain to my staff that it was our fault her mirror was now mysteriously missing in action. The logic behind her argument was that whilst my team were in possession of her vehicle a few days prior, it had nothing wrong with it then.
Did this lady truely believe we had caused her mirror to just drop off the vehicle? Was she oblivious to the fact that she had clearly tried to drive her vehicle through a public toilet block and then down a flight of stairs? If Darwin was right, how do people like this still exist?
We agreed to fit a new mirror for free if she was willing to fund the part. It was more important to keep the client satisfied than it was to make a few bucks. She agreed and went on her way; not before reversing into a trailer that was parked outside the workshop, adding another battle scar to the rapidly dilapidating and depreciating hatchback. I returned upstairs to my office, unsure if i found the whole incident amusing or bewildering.
At that point a business advisor I work closely with came into my office. A tall slender lady, who would wear high heel shoes, designer clothing and expensive perfume. This lady carries herself with a demeanour of grace. Her presence demands respect and when ever she enters a room the whole room is silenced. After she enters all you can hear for a few short moments its the clicking of a keyboard by someone totally oblivious to the fact that she had arrived.
She sits down in a worn out, low cost swivel chair. The castor wheels are seized and the leather is splitting on the arm rests. None of this seems to bother her as she helps herself to a bucket of chocolates sitting on the desk in front of her and looks up at my literary masterpiece pinned to the wall.
At that point the phone rings, its my reception team and I have another situation that needs resolving. She forwards the call to me and I listen as I am berated over our latest marketing campaign. The item in question is a blank unaddressed envelope with a flyer and a fridge magnet inside. The first wave of these were sent out to retirement living and over 55s living. The assailant to my eardrums informs me that he does not appreciate receiving unaddressed mail as he fears a terrorist attack in the form of chemical warfare. I filled in the blanks for myself, this man considered himself such a high profile target that an attack designed to bring western society to its knees would start with a man that plays golf on Tuesdays and drives a Toyota Camry.
I explained that i understood his concerns and he calmed down. This man then proceeded to inform me that he now has our promotional fridge magnet on his fridge and would be in contact when he felt he needed our services. I hung up the phone baffled. This man suspected an envelope to be filled with anthrax and chose to open it anyway.
I looked back to my business strategist she was still reading my notes off the butchers paper.
“What do you want to do with share holders?” she asks.
Thus the birth of the year-long campaign to seek funding for the next GDL Automotive Workshop and, in turn, one day take the brand to a National scale.