Staff, clients and suppliers - you nurture them, tend them, pander to their every whim, and still you get let down. It seems that the nicer you are, the more liberties they take, so I have decided that it's no more Mr Nice Guy.
We use agency staff for many of our functions and have had a long-running problem with one of the larger agencies which is unable, it seems, to issue statements on a monthly basis.
We have existed for years on the basis that statements arriving on or around the first of the month are dragged out to be checked against invoices and cleared for payment on or around the 16th of the month.
However, with the implementation of a new accounts office, the agency ceased sending statements, placing the responsibility on us, the client, to calculate the amounts owing each month.
When I asked for a monthly transaction log to be provided, either by post or by fax, I was told that the system suited them and that I should possibly look at changing our method of accounting.
We decided it was easier to change agencies, and spent nearly £25,000 last quarter with another company.
One of the vagaries of our business is the range of functions at which we can find ourselves working. Recent functions have seen us providing a lavish buffet in France, returning in time to supply a simple finger buffet for a client at the Guildhall in Northampton.
Variety at work
This variety makes for an interesting time answering phone enquiries. Two of the calls I had this week were for a finger buffet for 20 (what polite response can you offer a prospective client who asks if you do anything cheaper than £2.50?) immediately followed by a request for a themed activity day for 5,000 guests.
We have a client who uses the Guildhall for dance nights, offering a full "superclub" atmosphere in quite stunning surroundings. They are good for our bar revenue, but I have noticed that the evenings are declining as we have gone from selling nearly 50 cases of Budweiser in a night to struggling to hit 25 or 30 cases.
We have looked at possible causes for this and have come up with different, equally relevant answers every month, such as the Easter floods that meant much of Northampton was under water; everyone was saving up for their holidays in June; in July they were on their holidays; and so on. I can't help thinking that the "rave" culture has started to decline and I am struggling to find enthusiasm for the dance party event booked for Boxing Day.
Our quest for planning permission drags on - the highways department at the county council has told me it has a few minor points to consider but no major concerns over our use of the proposed offices and yard and will, I hope, offer no objections. But we are still waiting to hear from our local council.
Next diary from Robert Alvarez: 17 September