Trade And Shop Thefts? What Have I missed?

Since leaving hospital earlier this week I have heard of a number of thefts of trade fixtures and fittings from shops, restaurants, pubs and hotels than ever before. A number of these thefts that I have been informed about have happened to business owners who are also personal friends of mine I know that theft and burglary have been around as crimes since time immemorial and hardly a week goes by without an associate who is a builder, plumber, electrician or shop fitter mentioning to me that their Ford Transit has been broken into and that something has been stolen, usually it is thousands of pounds worth of tools. I do feel for these guys. It can take days to get their businesses back on track and cause hardship and can lose them customers. They have to get vehicles repaired, source new tools, sometimes travelling long distances to pick up new tools and then there is dealing with insurance companies. If I hate dealing with insurance companies then these tradesmen must really get annoyed with insurers!

What is alarming about these new thefts that I am hearing about as a former business broker and the publisher of The Weekly Deals Free Sheet is this. These criminals are stealing very bulky items such as tobacco gantries, multi deck refrigerator units, fryers, display fridges and much more. I do know that these pieces of kit cost an awful lot of money to purchase for the publican, restauranteur, caterer or shop keeper. Then there are the sorts of losses I mention above, which can be no fun for these trades and the possibility of having to close such an expensive and costly unit can only strike fear into business owner.

The rate is alarming too, you see I am in contact with a large number of publicans, restauranteurs, caterers, hoteliers and shop keepers. I have heard of eight such thefts in the past 10 days!  I started writing this blog at 10:45 am on Sunday I have been interrupted a few times and while writing have been told that a shop keeper friend of mine has had a multi deck unit stolen overnight. He needs a new window, repairs to some display units that were damaged and some other repairs to his shop as well as a new multi deck unit. A lot of stock was thrown around as well. The new unit will cost £3,000 excluding VAT. However with everything else the total cost is close to £10,000! This makes 9 thefts in 11 days. Some of these trade items can cost over £5,000 each!

A business that has to close because of these thefts causes more costs and loss of customers who may well not come back again, that is future trade lost too. Most owners of businesses such as these report that usually and previously any break in or burglary would result in the perpetrators going straight for the tills and trying to raid them for cash even though most of these businesses do not keep cash on the premises at all let alone overnight and that cash use is diminishing in view of chip and pin use. Some report that the odd peckish or thirsty thief has helped themselves to a can of pop or a bar of chocolate!

The associated costs such as new glass for a custom front where the glass has been smashed can add more cost to the already rising cost of a theft and at some point this is going to push prices up for the man in the street. The shop keeper would have no option but to pass the cost by adding 10 pence to the price of a bottle of pop for example. The takeaway owner might have to add fifty or sixty pence to the price of a portion of fish and chips. This is where it starts to affect everyone. This is not a good thing. Prices for everything are always rising and wages do not rise enough to keep track and thus everyone is worse off.

Any owner of any business will tell you that currently things are very tough, this sort of crime adds to business problems and can cause other issues for the business owner such as health issues.

One wish is that the police get a grip on crime such as these thefts and tool theft and play their part in improving the business climate and make life easier and less stressful for the small business owner.

Life the small business owner is hard enough as it is and my other wish is that the rate and frequency of these thefts eases and allows more small business owners to go to sleep at night with one less thing to worry about!

Autumn Fair 2016

I will be attending the Autumn Fair 2016 event the the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, United Kingdom. The event is held from 4-7 September 2016. I will be attending on the 5th and 6th of September and will have time for meetings before, during and after the exhibition on both days. If you would like to meet me at the exhibition for a chat, a coffee or a beer in the evening please fill out the form below.

The IT Industry, What has happened to it?

I spent a great number of years in the IT trade and occasionally get called back in as a consultant. I now run a small business brokerage and small business consultancy. I am amazed by the way things have changed and the way customer and the trade itself has changed. In the mid to late 90’s. IT departments were treated with general disdain by the colleagues for example in finance or sales. Fast forward some what and things have changed immensely. The younger entrants to the trade from university are now coming in as junior project managers taking a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude to experienced hires and bringing with them buckled shoes and a seriously bad hair gel addiction. Younger IT managers are also created in the same mode. Suppliers are over selling to their clients and the sales managers will not listen to experienced consultants for love nor money. It gets even worse. The industry is now taking a F*** Y** stance to everything in its path in my opinion. Some critical examples: 2 years ago. IT director says “I googled it”. Me:Trust me it won’t work. Him: Do it the way Google says. Me:Ok, have it your way! Him: Why hasn’t it worked? Me: I told you it would not work! Last year I was in a meeting with an IT Director and a sales director for a large IT provider. When asked a question about pricing the sales director told the IT director, quite openly to “go f*** himself”. Early this year. An account manager told me he wanted 5 days work delivered in two, because he told the client it was achievable without consulting a technical authority! And now for the worst one. A video clip came into my possession yesterday that showed three IT engineers from a large London NHS trust who were supposed to be on call, getting drunk at a Christmas party and ignoring an emergency call bleeper 3 times! You cannot take an emergency call whilst under the influence. These systems are there to save peoples lives and those on call are responsible for those systems whilst they are on call. I not alone in having left the IT industry. I have a number of good friends who I worked with in the trade who have also left. I am saddened that this is the legacy we left behind after years of delivering experience and professional expertise in tricky and demanding situations. The industry has damaged itself not just internally bit externally as well and those who cared enough for it not to happen have tried, failed, and become so disheartened they have either left or are considering leaving. Many who are leaving or have left including myself have also left because the industry has taken a toll on their health. Every experienced hire I speak to who has left the trade tells me they have no regrets about leaving and say “they should have done it years ago”. An industry cannot improve when all of the experience is jumping ship at an alarming rate. Bringing in new young blood will not fix the situation. It is a sad day when I feel compelled to write a blog like this. It had to happen I for one wish that the trade will in time repair itself both internally and externally.  

A Small Work Related Rant – Valuation and Freelancers

I am writing this in a personal capacity as I felt it would be unfair to post this on a work site as it is not policy to post these sorts of observations on work related websites.

I have been buying and selling websites and technology businesses in a professional capacity since 2004 either on my own account or on behalf of clients. In this time I have participated in a large number of deals. When I speak to a vendor, their idea of the market value of a website or business is usually a little over what the market will pay. I would suggest that with the exception of the group I will deal with its generally between 5-10 percent but maybe as much as 15 percent from time to time.

In nine years in this business I have dealt with a large number of freelancers. In some ways I am still a freelancer. Now a number of freelancers set up businesses outside their core skill set in their spare time and I have no issue with this at all. I admire their entrepreneurial spirit. This is a good thing! The big problem is when it comes to time to sell. I used to get two or three calls like the following a week when I used to be a member of a certain freelance trade association and I am staggered by the number I have received in the past week.

It goes like this. I get a call asking if I can sell a website. I then ask pertinent questions to get a rough idea of value and verbally present a marketing plan. When it comes to freelancers the websites they build in their spare time are worth between £250 and £5000 as a general rule. There are some exceptions. Freelancers will explain that their hourly rate is £x. This is usually well over inflated. I’m sorry but if you are a front line IT call handler on contract to a local government organisation in the Midlands you do not earn £75 an hour! More like £15 if you are lucky!  They multiply their hourly rate by an over inflated amount of time that it took them to get their valuation. so a site worth £1000 realistically to them has a valuation of £30,000! They usually did not take 300 hours to develop either – more like 30 -40! Please stop lying!

This causes a number of problem for supply and demand in the market place and does have the effect of stalling new entrants to the market in the form of buyers. The other issue is the amount of commission they wish to pay on a sale if I am to sell the site or business on their behalf. I am sorry if your site is only worth £1000. I am not going to work on a commission of 1%. That means only £10 for me. Ergo I make a huge loss!  Yes your Estate Agent may work on 1% but that is on a property sale most likely greater than £150,000! Again this causes problems in the market as it stalls the entry of new stock to market at realistic prices which is the lifeblood of the market.

If I offered some of these sites out to market at the prices many freelancers who sell wanted for them I would be a laughing stock quite quickly. As I would be massively over inflating the real market worth.

I must say that experienced operators are on the whole very good but some freelancers do muddy the market with over ideological thinking and I do wish they would stop, especially of they are a member of a freelance trade association! As I said earlier the majority of these calls used to come from their members and no I will not name the association. It has been 2-3 years since I had these silly conversations with freelancers but in the past week I have seen the largest number (15) since then.

Penultimately the other issue that raises its head is that of the Flippa website as all of these freelancers have heard of it. If you want an increase in emails from Nigerian fraudsters and spam emails then please try and sell your site there. Listings start from only $9. See if you actually make a sale! I wish you luck! Sedo is okay but in a similar vein. You will be waiting a long time to sell at any price. Ebay is good but this is a specialist market that requires specialist  knowledge.

Apologies for the rant and my best wishes to the operators and freelancers who develop other businesses and have their heads screwed on when it comes to sale time!