So I got a call from Cheeseboy last night as I was closing up suggesting we catch up for a drink. We met at the undistinguished Grosvenor hotel in East St Kilda (or is it Balaclava?) over a bottle of Tempranillo.
I’d spoken to him earlier updating him with the situation regarding the shop. He came armed with a notepad upon which Mrs Cheese had made a bunch of notes, which is very Mrs Cheese-like. They’re good friends.
So we chatted about sundry things like the world cup and his job and so on before we cut to the chase. Cheeseboy is by instinct a much more conservative person than I am. We’re at odds quite often because of that despite being the best of mates. Common sense probably lies somewhere between us, and recognising that I was prepared to listen.
He counselled me about strategy with my recalcitrant bidder. My reaction to his shenanigans, expressed last night, was that he was playing funny buggers with me. My instinct was to respond coolly, even curtly, keeping it matter of fact. Cheeseboy advised differently.
He read the email I had received and took it at face value. He suggested I play along, and to invite him to discussion if the other bids failed to eventuate. Basically, play nice.
I did that, and within 10 minutes received another wordy response from this character. At first I had taken his effusive communications to be characteristic of him. More recently I’ve begun to think that they’re actually a bit of a tactic. This time he went on about more of his problems and why he wasn’t in a position to make an offer, at the same time extolling the virtues of the shop. He asked innocently what the ball-park price range of received offers. Almost casually, and as I recognise it now, typically, he then asked if I would be interested in a price sub-$20K.
By now I was seriously pissed off. Part of me was outraged, as if I’d caught some respectable looking dude cheating at cards. Taking the piss is one thing; negotiating in bad faith is another.
At this point I knew my instinct had been right. I should have gone back at him hard. I hadn’t and, as I feared, it had encouraged him further. When you’re negotiating you’ve got to be prepared to lose, and they have to know it. You can’t softcock it, and you have to mean it. Anything else only encourages them. It pisses me off just writing it because what happened is such a betrayal of who I am. Fucks sake, I am the man who will go hard, and I didn’t.
That’s a situation I rectified pretty quickly. I responded with a two-line email that was polite, but pretty curt. Basically I told him he was dreamin’.
I doubt that’s the last I’ll hear of him. He was trying me out, checking my limits. He now knows that $20K is too little, but I might consider $25K.
With a bit of luck it’ll be academic. The Thai’s came around again last night and seem to be keen still. They tell me they’ll give me an answer by Sunday. Just for fun I gave them an option B – partnership split 75/25. They run the shop, pay the bills, take all the profit up to a point and for a defined period of time. I’m in the background guiding and assisting as needs be.
I’d still prefer to sell outright, but if this helps get a deal across the line then I’m for it. It means they need invest less, and I stay involved. It probably cuts out some of the red tape, though partnership has its own challenges.
Of course, this is assuming I don’t get kicked out of the joint first. That’s another argument.