Friday, March 31, 2006
Scenario: A tenant has stopped paying rental because of bad business. After two months of not paying the rental, they have decided to write to the management that they want to leave the building. The management has agreed to that and have asked them to leave at the end of the third month (of not paying) and then we will contra with their rental deposit given at the start of the tenancy. But, they say they will require an additional month (fourth month) to get everything in order to leave the building.
In summary, this means that they will still need to pay one month. March 2006 is their fourth month in debt and I have been sending reminder letters to tell them to pay up or we don't allow them to leave. What's a marketing dude writing reminder letters for rental?!? That's another story. Back to this, I guess they think we're stupid to say "No, you can't leave if you don't pay!" which translate to mean "You can still stay there and run your business as long as you're in debt!" Duh!
Today is their last day, and they are removing cabinets, tables, chairs, machines and what-have-yous.... only to be stopped by security saying they cannot use the service lifts to bring out their items. Thus, they contacted the management (which means me lah since I am a marketing who has to do PR as well). Went to meet them, and the following was discussed.
As long as I have not received the final month's payment, they are not allowed to take ANY large items out of their premise (using the service lift). They are unhappy! They say "This is our final day as tenant, why can't we take them out?!" to which I replied "Until payment is received, your items will be kept to minimise losses should you suddenly wind down your company tomorrow and lawyers cannot chase after you if you don't pay." Also, because today is the last day of their tenancy, they cannot run their business in that premise (or else we'll charge another month's rental), and to ensure that, the management will place chain locks around their doors until payment is received and we allow them to take down items.
What happened next?! They defy orders. Their MD instructed the staff to lug tables and chairs into NORMAL lifts. Security did not allow them to, but due to overwhelming number of their staff, they managed to sneak two-three chairs into the lift to bring them down.
So what happened next?!? Security informed me of the case, and I, as Marketing Executive who has no power or authority at all logically, switched to guerilla tactics (which I have seen my previous Property Manager done to other tenants in the past). This company is the ONLY company on that floor. As at current time, which is half an hour since that lugging of chairs into the lift, the entire floor's electricity and aircond has been shut off, and none of the lifts stop at that level and that level's lift buttons (to call the lift) is also disabled.
Newsflash. Just In! Security came again stating that they're lugging the chairs and tables down the fire escape!! I've instructed the security to lock the doors leading out to the Ground Floor (ya lah, look ugly if people see chairs being carried in the ground floor lobby).
Please be aware that as evil as these tactics may sound, they have been in effect twice before and I'm just repeating instructions. As bad as this may seem to the tenant, it is very logical if you sit down and really think about it. Yes, RM30,000 of rental is not little. If we allow them to leave everything except their tahi hidung in their premise, they can just close the company tomorrow and we'll have a big problem explaning the loss of RM30k rental to the owner of the building. However, these are guerilla tactics which I believe laywers will never advice to doing.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Back to eating alone, again, I repeat that there's only four staff currently in the management office with desks. Others like security staffs are in security room where all the black and white televisions are, and the maintenance staffs are more happy relaxing in their tools room or engine room or whatever. Again, I repeat that my finance executive prefers to tapau food. That leaves the receptionist and the maintenance manager.
I have been asked for lunches quite a few times. I have had tenants asking me out. One issue is that my managers previously have all warned me about going for lunches with tenants. Other tenants will give the look, thinking that there's more than meets the eye. Maybe they're thinking "Ah, this tenant sure got good rental rate, since he's chummy chummy with that dude." Therefore, I've always turned down (tactfully by lying saying "I have an appointment at that time") all the requests.
I have also been asked for lunches by my receptionist and my two staff at our business center. That cannot do as it'll mean I'll be dining with three girls. If I do dine with them, it cannot happen in our building because most of the tenants know my receptionist as well as my two staff, since their looks make them quite popular amongst the single guys of the tenants. I mean, to have 'strangers' calling up to "get to know the receptionist" tells a lot. I've been in the cafe once, just eating on my own, and having seen an interesting scene. Scores of guys who are eating are busy looking at one direction towards the girls. Ya, I'll be darn well not to sit with them or I'll get stupid jealous looks.
Maintenance staff and security staff I totally cannot jive with them. We can joke once in a while, but to hold a decent group conversation is difficult, because the topics are unfamiliar to me. So that leaves eating with someone outside the building. Yeah, I used to eat with an ex-school mate working just beside my building. I have another ex-school mate about 200 meters away, we've talked about doing lunch but has never gotten around to it. I guess one of the reason I eat alone is coz' I eat after lunch hour! Ya, at 2:00pm sharp mostly when crowds are less.
What do I gain? Nothing. It's nothing pitiful eating alone. Some of the pros include cleaning of eye aka cuci mata aka look at girls. I can eat like a king without someone scrutinising "Eh, wah liao, you eat four pieces chicken and 3 sambal eggs and got sotong some more! Crazy!". But practically, eating alone is relaxing, time away from work to be on my own to think about personal life, such as, what to eat for dinner, what to watch on tv tonight, which university to put my kid in. :P Cons?! I don't feel any cons should they really exist. Seriously, it is relaxing to eat alone. :D
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I was in KFC once, and right before I reached the counter, a little boy of about 5-6 years old came up to the counter, asked the kakak whether he can change the popcorn chicken small size to a medium size. The answer was a straight-forward "Tak boleh, dah punch dah" which means "cannot". The boy asked for a medium size to buy, but he didn't carry enough cash. So he went back to his seat (sitting alone) and ate his small size popcorn chicken. I guess the parents should be around to leave him minding his own matters.
Anyway, it was a pity. He had this forlorn look, more towards sadness due to helplessness to solve the issue, than being angry at the kakak. Adults would feel the latter I supposed. There was a very short moment that I thought, hmm... maybe I should buy that medium sized popcorn chicken for him, exchange with him his small one. Good gesture no?! Then, it hit me.
What is the correct age for a child to learn the consequences of his own decision making? It's like the story of the butterfly. When a kid tried to help the butterfly open its cocoon, it comes out and die, coz' the cocoon is the "test" for the butterfly. When the butterfly can muster its strength to open the cocoon, then it can fly. So this kid, as evil as it may sound, must understand and learn from his mistake. Simple for me to say huh? Since I'm not related to him.
What if I'm his parent? Would you let that sad look stay on your own son's face, not getting what he wanted just because he made a wrong decision? It's not about him wanting a toy and you say no. It's about allowing him to have what he wants, and in the end if he doesn't like it, he has to face it. In my honest opinion, I think it's best to teach a child consequences of decision making as early as possible. It teaches "Be Careful!".
Of course, as a parent, I do need to guide. If my child wants an ice-cream and he gawks at the colour of the sea-weed flavoured ice-cream being green, I'd have to tell him that it will taste bad. That's my help. If he still demands it, I'll buy it. But if after that he doesn't like it and wants to change, I'll have to really say no (will be fighting against my own compassion here I guess). If he doesn't want it, I'll finish it, but he will not get a replacement. Maybe next time. Sad, but I guess that's the only way to teach consequences.
So when should this 'lesson' start?! No idea... I'm a new parent, I guess it'll have to be by ear.
P/s: I think I 'cocoon' and 'forlorn' wrongly, but,.... heck with it. :D
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
In the near future when my kid starts to get hooked on his bolster/soft toy, the price may be as high as RM19.90, but the value will be up to RM50 or RM100. This means that should we forget to bring along the toy on trips, the constant whining (maybe) or my kid's difficulty to sleep at night (maybe) would really affect us.
For some, a friend's mug (cup/glass) would cost only RM5.00, and it's of no value to us, but to that friend, the value is priceless, coz' it's given by a loved one, or a gift for winning something, or whatever else. Which brings us to the topic of how do we actually put value to an item.
An item, no matter how small or big that we spend a lot of time with, especially if memories are connected to it, brings the item to a very high value, or to sound better, brings us to really cherish that item. For me personally, there are certain things that I put high value to, like my wireless router,... kidding! Let's talk emotional values here, not price value. There are things that may be cheap but you really don't want to ever sell it should someone comes with 10 times the price. And there will be things whereby you don't need anymore, and never will, but you still keep, because of sentimental reasons.
A personal example would be my spectacles. Used for four years, about to throw it away the other day, and then I remember the 'unconditional service' or 'benefit' it's given me, being able to scout for pretty girls from far away, ok, not that, but the ability to really see well than just foggy and blurry images. This is how memory can significantly rise the value of the item.
I remembered reading a newspaper clipping some 4-5 years back. A helicopter crashed in Pahang I believed, and the pilots were rescued on that same day itself. The wife of one of the pilots was waiting at the rescue drop-zone and when the pilot was brought out of the helicopter, the first thing he said was "I'm sorry I lost our wedding ring". Value! This pilot, after a horrible ordeal, being injured, could realise that the wedding ring was gone from his finger during the crash. The example of how an item of love, or significant gift brings high value of an item.
Really put yourself into the next few paragraphs. You just got married and have bought a house. Few years later, you have your first child. Then many more children. Your family starts to create history and memories in the house. Painting of walls together, remembering your second child tumbled down the stairs when he was 2, planting a tree together, many family gatherings, children playing in the lawn, heck, even being robbed. Twenty five years down the road, that RM150k house would be say RM600k. Good money, your children are all grown up, you don't need that big house anymore, and you sell it. On the day you finally get a buyer, you will walk around the house, over and over again, practically 'seeing' your past, practically hearing your children holding a toy and saying "Daddy, look!". You see your wife in the kitchen smiling while cooking your favourite dish. You see your kid accidentally knocks the glass of juice off the table and it broke when it hit the floor, and your kid cries. Everything starts to come back.
The house is priceless, not RM600k. You know, the new owner will never love the house as you did. You know the owner is just buying the house to rent to others, an investment property, you are angry that there's no love to the house, but you cannot stop it. The last day you leave the house, you scratch at one wooden corner of the house, be it the ceiling near the roof, or some obscure place that you know paints will not reach for some time to come. And you write "Thank you for the all the memories you bestowed on our family. Love, your
In memory of the little red 'comel' with the 'semut' that has served my wife and our family for the past 7 years. Always in mind and heart.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Which comes to mind a tau foo fah seller in pasar besar TTDI. If you were to take-away the tau foo fah, she won't give you the plastic spoon. The spoon costs an additional 5 cents. This was back in the late 90's. Wouldn't the price include that plastic spoon? At least you don't have to wash it and come on, how much does a plastic spoon cost anyway? Satay sellers put in satay stick into the cost. It's like buying a pre-packed nasi lemak and they charge you for the plastic you put the nasi lemak in. It's like Makro 'soft persuade' you to buy their plastic bag since you cannot possible cash and carry more than 10 items.
But here we're talking about food industry. I'm sure quite a lot of you would have noticed, and agree with me that if you tapau (take-away, bungkus) an iced milo at a mamak stall, the milo you get in your plastic bag is more than they put into the glass for dine-in clients. There was a time when I was kiasu, buying a bungkus milo ais, and then sit down, ask for empty glass. Free anyway, and yes, I get about 1.25 glass of milo from my bungkus-ed iced milo.
On the other hand, we have restaurants that add charges for plastic bags and the likes. It's nice enough to live in Malaysia than overseas where they charge 20cents a squirt of chilli sauce (personal experience in New Zealand) or 10 cents for salt/pepper in McD. The question is, is it more costly to the food hawker/restaurant to sell at take-away or dine-in? What are the 'costs' involved?
Dine-in requires the following: -
- Degradation of cloth to wipe table before and after you eat
- Water to wash your hands, your plates and forks and spoons
- Degradation of plates, forks, spoons, chairs and whatever you use
- Cost of soap and cleaning liquid for washing
- Labour cost for the above
- Lights and fan/aircond (I know this is used in general, but in a month, you can actually divide the expense of aircond against amount of customers)
Tapau requires the following: -
- Plastic bags cost, newspaper/plastic cost and sometimes
- Labour cost for wrapping
- Additional stuff cost ie wooden chopsticks, plastic forks and spoons
Seriously, I have no idea which costs more, but I think on a quantity basis, dine-in cost more but on a single customer basis, tapau costs more. So, while mamak stall have to absorb more cost when a customer buy iced milo, why do they give MORE iced milo? Which comes to the same for pre-cooked quick food like fried rice, fried kuey teow and the likes. Err... pre-cooked here means you just need to take it from the tray into your plate/tapau box. Good tapau box like those made in micro-wavable plastic is rather costly as compared to just a simple plastic. But Pizza hut gives spaghetti in that!
Back to topic, you place fried rice in your plate and you place fried rice in your tapau box, the price is the same but you get more in the tapau box. I guess we need to thank the makers of these tapau boxes, be it plastic or sterofoam (or however you spell it). They manage to trick the eye of food-sellers that since the size (width-span) of boxes is smaller than plates, tapau customers get less or somewhat same.
Just a quick summary. You eat McD, if you tapau, you get bonus paper bag, plastic bag, more tissues than you use when dine-in and more chilli sauces than you use when dine-in. You eat roti canai, if you tapau, you get bonus plastic, newspaper, plastic bag and more curry/dhal than you eat when dine-in. You eat yong tau fu, if you tapai, you get bonus plastic bags and more sauce than you get when dine-in. BUT, they cost more to the seller actually.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
It's amazing to see what happens on certain occasions which RARELY happens. Yes, my building used to have power trips that affected several floors, sometimes even the whole building, but never has it been like it was today.
I was just done with lunch and was lepak-ing at the reception area when my receptionist got about two phonecalls on power trips on the high zones of the building. Then when I saw the "emergency light" came on (the rectangular white light, dunno how to explain), then I knew something bad was happening. I went to the new manager, told him we're experiencing power trip again, but maybe to a greater degree. Even then I saw my accounts assistance also answering calls of power trips.
What an experience, the moment we stepped out to the lift lobby, we hear screaming and banging and bells. Seems that the generator did not kick up and the lift was stuck halfway, with totally no power. We went through the fire escape to two floors down towards maintenance/security room, and the fire escape was pitch black. I can imagine how those people in the elevator must've felt. Pitch black with only my phone light to help me look for the steps, I cannot imagine what the people of 9/11 experienced, with panic and all.
Anyway, the entire maintenance crew was out running about on the power trips leaving only one staff in the room and she had to answer more calls asking about opening lifts, no power, no lights, no airconds. Kesian. Luckily, the power was up again within 5 minutes. Then comes the "What the hell happened?!?" part which I had to handle (being a tenant liaison person and all, which was not even in my employment letter). Things went ok after that. Just a somewhat harrowing experience for them. For me, it was err... mildly exciting seeing the panic. :P
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
First of all, listen to the sales pitch. If you already know what the product is and you're totally sure you're not interested in it, that's WHEN you know you need to say NO. If you're willing to wait, means that you're still open to discussion, so, well, it's not yet time to say NO. So basically, there are three feelings in the first 1 minute with a salesperson. It's either a confirmed NO, a "I'll check it out", or a "I think I might be interested". Rarely is there a "YES I WANT!" in the first 1 minute unless you were already looking for that product in the first place.
So, if it's a confirmed NO, you just need to say you're not interested. Not to be racist here, but usually indian salesperson does not understand "I'm not interested". I have had at least thrice experienced an indian salesperson selling to a chinese lady above 35 sitting nearby. At the end of the conversation, it's always something like "You ah... (while taking out purse), very smooth talker lah. Haihh..." and she pays for it. Yep, indian salesperson are smooth talker, and the meaning of "I'm not interested" is intepreted as "You're losing me as a customer, do try harder please! Give a better sales pitch!"
Now, if you ARE faced with someone who still wanna push a product when you already said you're not interested (and you're REALLY not interested, as in, you really do not want to consider it anymore), then you're faced with harassment. Seriously! It's no different from a robbery or extortion. The only difference is that someone wants your money, in exchange for something you don't need. Here is where you do not need to be all nice anymore, because you've said your say. If you're agressive, say "I said I'm not interested", and further harassment will be followed by "Do you need me to call the police to stop his harassment?!". If you're average, just say "I'm really not interested, thank you." and pick up your phone to call someone, anyone at all. If you're all preen and proper, say "F**K YOU!" Kidding! Just say "Look, no matter what you say, I'm not gonna buy it, so why not don't waste your time on me and utilise that time to sell to others who might say yes?" Personally, I just say "Not interested" and break eye-contact. This works very well against salesperson who comes to see you uninvited. If the salesperson is from the phone, and you're totally not interested, just say "Sorry, I'm not interested."
A trick that all salesman learn is that "Once I can see you, I can have a better chance of selling." So, the phonecall will continue normally with "I just want to introduce this product to you, no obligation. Just to meet up with you to introduce the product." Just say "I'm not even interested to know what the product offers." or just tell them that you're really busy and have no free time. Should they insist, (and I hate that), do what I do, which is to say "Okay, next week Thursday"... and then when Wednesday comes and they call you to remind you, you say "Sorry, got something up, why not next week Wednesday?" and keep postponing till they get the story. While this is a 'bad' way to handle pushy salesperson, just remember, you are being harassed eventhough you're NOT interested. Keep that feeling of harassment in mind, stealing your time from what you WANT to do, that way, you'll know how to react.
Okay, next. If you're willing to listen to the sales pitch. The moment you are willing to listen, switch off your emotions. I repeat, switch off your emotions! Unless you're ACTIVELY looking to buy a house, or clothes (salesperson don't sell clothes though), or cars, you will not buy according to emotions. A Dunhill cigarette lover ended up buying Salem from sexy Salem girls are caught in emotions (to please the girls, ya right!!). So, for a third time, switch off your emotions. Look at numbers.
If you're being sold a pen, do you really need to buy a 17th working pen when you have one in your pocket and another 15 at home? What? The pen can change tv channel is it?? If you're being sold a holiday package, take out a calculator, check your usual holiday routine per year, compare it to the package. If the package does not compliment your holiday routine, forget it. An example. I stay in KL. If I go on a holiday, it'll be to maybe Penang, or Johor. This dude is selling me a holiday package in Hotel Sunway. Why do you need to holiday in Sunway when you're in KL!?? Another example, if a dude sells a hotel package in Langkawi that saves you RM50 nightly, and the package cost is RM300. You'll need to stay in Langkawi 6 days to break-even. If you have not planned to go Langkawi and stay for 6 days, the package is useless. If you're sold an investment vehicle, know your risk profile. You must understand that the moment you sign up for an investment stuff, you're already making a loss. Check with numbers and history of the company, the investment package itself, and make your own judgment. Problem is, investment package is like predicting rain. Sometimes it goes ok, sometimes does not. So if you're really interested in an investment package, take it home, study it, give it a week or two and then make your decision.
Coming to investment package, if you're a bumiputera (malay, orang asli, Iban, Bidayuh, Kadazan, and many more), ASB or Amanah Saham Bumiputera is the FIRST investment you should venture into. In the past 5 years, it has never failed to give a minimum dividend of 6%, much better than that of FD or even Bonds on some occasion. Only after you're satisfied with your money in ASB, or hunger for something at 10% or 12% then you can find other investment vehicles, albeit more risky.
Back to salesperson. Not all salesperson are bad. They (myself included) are sometimes just a shipwrecked person wanting to survive. Those on commissions are especially more tenacious in their selling because they need to meet a certain target. Friendly ones are ok, and if they show numbers a lot and don't push, you'll have a good learning experience. Those very pushy ones, are desperate for sales, or are currently the best in their company and wish to remain that way. These you have to be careful coz' there are too many tricks up their sleeves. The best way to deal with ALL salesman is, to never sign on ANYTHING! NO! DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING AT ALL! Not on your first meeting at least!
No matter how amazing the product is, do not sign on first meeting. All those "today's the last day" or "today you get 50% off" are mostly bullcrap. Personally, I'm more happy with potential tenants/clients wanting to see me again on another day then straight away sign up on that day, coz' they did not have some time to think about it, and I might have pressured into something they don't want. Those who pushes with the "buy now or regret later", you'll just say "I'll rather regret not buying than regret buying."
Any questions? Basically, being on the receiving side of a sales pitch is very nice, at least to me. I can learn about a product or services for free. It's like a free lecture a university is giving. But for those who have problems saying "NO", flee as fast as you can.
Monday, March 06, 2006
I have had one month of a very tiring job, and at the end of the month when the new manager came in to relieve me off some work, I had another 3 days of lack of sleep, and thus, experienced the following incident on Sunday while my wife was not home for the entire morning till afternoon.
Daily routine for my baby (literally, not "yo, baby... how ya doin'?" type) is to wake up about 5am or so, play around till about 7am or 8am, and then start his bath at 8:30am, have his breakfast, have some activity and by 9:30am or so, he'll go to bed, and I'll have my own rest time to do what I need to do, like taking a bath, having my breakfast and then some activity... hey, me and me baby have the same routine! Except the sleep part lah.
This time, by 10:15 he was awake, just 45 minutes of sleep. Hmm... usually it lasts anywhere between an hour to three hours. Since he was awake, I took him out the living room and placed him in his exersaucer (some contraption to make baby 'stand' and play, but not move about the whole house or kingdom). Now, it's common for any houses to hear slamming of doors, which ends up being the neighbours. Or hearing of voices, which ends up being people talking at the back lane, and the voices come through the kitchen window. In my apartment, though located some levels off the ground, we can hear people talking at the construction site nearby.
Back to story, after about an hour of playing activities ie. reading papers, watch tv, playing with baby and the likes, I heard a baby crying, and coming from the other part of my house. Now, if it was voices then it's common, but now it was a baby's cry. My only guess was that the baby is at the swimming pool downstairs with his/her caretakers or parents. Anyway, my baby looked at me coz' he heard the crying too. So, I picked him up, held him close, walked towards the master bedroom to look out the window, but as I got nearer, the baby's crying sounded sooo close.
Anyway, I opened the bedroom door, heard the baby's crying in the room itself! Looking at the bed, the thick blanket moved a little and the crying originated from there. Feeling very awkward but not fully scared, I moved closer and peeped past the pile high blanket, and saw my baby. Shocked! What the?!? Then I looked my own arm and I was actually craddling his pillow. Now... am I crazy?! I did have some interaction with my baby in the living room just now, so was all that totally hallucination?! Is it possible for lack of sleep to create such a ridiculous hallucination? To cut the story short, I picked him and and brought him out, but I cannot get over what just happened to me.
Later, I was wondering whether I should tell my wife about the incident. Thinking about it, I think I should not let her know. I mean, why should I? Since this is just a tale I coughed up. Sigh of relief.... phewww.