Well I popped in to see Alastair the new landlord of The Ship yesterday on the way back from picking up my son and I think that the old girl is in good hands.
It was kinda odd walking around the place so long after closing her down, wanting to tidy up and move stuff around! But I explained the lessons that the old girl had taught me, the quirks and oddities that have entertained us all during my time there and Alastair seemed generally pleased. In response to the point that “you could have just driven past and thought its your problem now” I honestly said that the pub did me no harm and owes me no debt, I am genuinely pleased that she will continue as a public house and not become housing as so many of us feared.
In this day and age it’s good that a village the size of Kirkby can maintain two pubs and encourage investment, well done people! I saw hursty earlier and he was already licking his lips, can’t wait to have a pint in the old girl again.
Well I realised that my secret squirrel routine was never going to see me all the way through but it’s done well and thanks to a good friend i haven’t lost the mask yet!
Said friend was asked about my interests and tells me that she did a spectacular job of laughing it off, as good as that is it does mean that I will be on the ‘must stalk’ list of at least one local this weekend so it’s a good job that my alcohol resistance remains low due to my diet and I therefore won’t miss the pub!
Whilst this does not, of itself, have any effect on the inevitable gossiping and discussions it should keep me out of them and thus reduce the belief in them for a while and I could do with buying all the time I can get right now.
I have no particular concern about people knowing my plans, let’s be honest if I did I would not be entering the licensed trade, but purchasing conditions can be very badly affected by rumours which can make a vendor unjustifiably brave or drive competition out of the undergrowth neither of which are beneficial to me.
I shall continue to wear my secret squirrel mask for a little while longer and lets see how I get on.
On a slightly different note it has just occurred to me over the last 24hours just how much work there is still to do at such time as I see a green light on a venue. Just the sheer volume makes you want to plan a couple of weeks of no work or trade to get straight, its only when you see the mortgage payments that you realise that’s not such a good idea!
So as you all know now my offer is in and winding its way around a rather long and tedious course which should result in the pronouncement of some for of decision in some measure of time, I suggest that more likely a question will return because decisions do not seem to be easy to come by….
So now I wait, impatiently, chewing nails and stressing as to the machinations that are invisible to me after all I am but one property of many to all of the people involved in the decisions. Of course I shall remain at my maximum paranoia as I have so far and so remain convinced that at the last-minute I will hear that somebody else has secured massive backing and has blown my bid out of the water or that somebody has been negotiating at the golf course directly with the vendor. I am almost primed to receive the telephone call from the agent that tells me how sorry he is but he ‘wasn’t aware’ and ‘these things happen’.
Now what really helps the situation of course is the ongoing, unstoppable and not far short of unbelievable rumour mill. I have been told of at least three distinct and individual people that have put offers in and have even been told of offers that have gone in well above the asking price! I must now remind myself that when I was frantic to get a viewing and beginning to believe the rumours of other offers and back door deals my agent advised against listening to the rumours, ok we had some false turns and it was difficult but it’s not an easy situation and the result was as promised, the first person to view was indeed me.
It’s not only in recent times that I have been outbid or beaten on financials, it has happened on several business over the years and the frustration is different to that which you see in a house purchase. With a house the price that you offer is clearly a result of your desire for that property and the affordability of that mortgage but with a pub you have to shelve the desirability (we all love pubs) and look at the affordability from a business perspective.
Now when you have spent weeks labouring over business plans and costings and weeks securing funding followed by yet more weeks stress testing all of the financials then you know that your numbers are correct simple as that the maths is correct. So when somebody appears out of the woodwork with a higher estimation of the potential for the business you know, as a matter of fact, that they are incorrect. If their numbers are incorrect then they will fail, that is a given, but on their way to failure they will degrade both the goodwill and the asset in so doing they will present a bigger hurdle on their exit.
Normally when people exit on failure they leave uncovered costs behind them and these costs end up with somebody and be that a receiver or a landlord they are now looking to extract more from a business that is worth less and so the cycle continues. I have looked at several pubs over the years and less often produced business plans for some and I can honestly say that where I have produced a business plan and somebody has offered more money they have all failed 100% of them; my record is not as good where I have only looked in passing but its something like 95% still.
In the current instance I have done all that I can do to document a sensible and rational long-term approach to a business that has been in severe decline for many years and almost like sealed bids I must resign myself to the fact that I do know my maths and I have tabled a strong offer that has a good chance of maintaining the business, if only this was one of the vendors considerations…
Another conversation brings another enlightenment. Just had a call from a friend who didn’t know about the pub plans (its been a while) so I got all the normal about how good it will be to get free beer, paid to drink and never needing a taxi home.
This one I had boxed though because I know his routine, so what happens when you go to your local get mashed and act up?
“well head down and use another pub for a week or so and it soon dies down”
There in lies another constraint of the licensed trade, you see your social life is bound to your pub and the trade in general so there is no forgetful excess and misbehaving because there is nowhere to hide. No matter what you drink or how late your evening clientele keep you up you need to show the ‘brave face’ the next day. Think back in your life, how many landlords have you apologised to? How many landlords have apologised to you for drinking too much?
Not a complaint by the way merely an observation.
Well what a day! We have the paperwork through, loan offer against property, schedules of costs, terms and conditions and that other scary stuff its best not to read.
We have a formal, fully financed offer in writing made and I have just got of the telephone to the agent who tells me that the offer has gone to the head office from where it goes to the vendor (that is apparently the process) and the agent tells me that he has recommended proceedings on an agreed tight timescale, this is a common feature designed to minimise the time that the property is off the market while the vendor ‘tests’ the purchaser.
I am increasing my milk intake in the hope that my nails will return enough for me to chew them back off while waiting!
As you will all recall waiting is not my strong point, please keep everything crossed for me and on my part I will try and learn to sleep with everything crossed! There really isn’t much more I can do at this stage . . .
Well currently stuck on the A14, feet up sitting in the sun and blackberrying the afternoon away. . . On account of some idiot stacking it and causing a massive jam!
Not what I needed after a textbook mega early start still it won’t happen when I’m in the pub!
That’s the next step in the chain and an offer on the table, here’s hoping that they respond quickly and hopefully positively!
I will get my pub
Yet another call with my bank today, not the sort of terror that springs to mind though rather a friendly exchange as these things have become.
A humorous catch up on just how long it takes me to find a pub and how determined I am is always good for the soul. Its always refreshing when your banker of choice can turn a mortgage offer around in less than 4 hours because ‘its mostly about you’.
Offer is dependent on the all important roof report which I should be able to generate this week, don’t foresee any problems with the report itself providing the author is acceptable to the reviewers.
After that its all down to the numbers people, the numbers hold the key. I’m starting to smell hot coffee and stale beer so we gotta be close
We now seem to have identified the person taking over The Ship, it’s not massively important since its not me but it’s obviously been a matter of some interest given the history.
Speaking to a friend yesterday I told him of the person concerned and we both agreed that there would have to be some backing which aligns with local rumours. At that point my friend recalled that a friend of his daughters was backing somebody on a pub deal locally as part of a group of investors and was turned over! Could this explain the lack of activity on the site? Is The Ship shortly to return to the market?
Given the ‘fun’ this market place has been for me over the last 5 months (yes it’s that long now) nothing would surprise me! Looking from the ‘glass half full’ perspective though its likely that my other options will now come through if there’s the slightest chance of the original returning to availability!
Too much thinking meant an early start this morning and I arrived fresh and ready for the day at 5 am in sunny Tottenham, here’s to a day of the stability of Engineering peppered with occasional day dreams. Tonight brings pricing reviews and product selection for some options, doesn’t hurt to get ahead of the game…
Listening to the tales of my friendly local landlords and their competitive nature leads me to think how interesting the different attitudes are in this trade. Some closely guard their trade as if it is some hard-earned badge, non transferable and owned forever, others are happy improving their trade and keeping a watchful eye on completion and yet others embrace change and the opportunity to refresh the scene.
For me the later is the way forward, it’s not about cut throat competition and it certainly should not be in anyones interest to drive the competition out because if you succeed in becoming the sole venue in a town, if you drive your competition to the hills and claim every pound spent as your own then you will fail. Its only in the soap operas that the population not only loyally support their local but positively enjoy the limitation on their outlets, the real world is not like this. Imagine for a minute, if you will, that you live in Eastenders and its Friday night there’s your pub the loyal Queen Vic go have a pint. You know everyone, everyone knows you isn’t that nice? No new faces just the same comforting faces that you see every time you come in nice eh? No it isn’t! Because we are social creatures and this in fact is our worst nightmare, it works in soaps because we are watching a story but we would hate it.
This is where the error lies in a business plan that is to aggressively insular, yes you drive all the trade to your door but once they are there they stop using pubs, they stay in or leave town. It’s far better to have a healthy share of a lively circuit than all of a dead town, choice and a dynamic offering is needed to keep people leaving the comfort of their home and buying your beer if you take that away then the closest most people will get to the pub is watching the Queen Vic.
Well thats my theory publicised for all to see lets hope nobody vies it and uses it against me, when I eventually resolve my absence of property!