Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Doing Business

"Montana Jones." Said D__ as I walked in the door.

"D__, nice to see you again." Said I. The pleasantries were over, from here forward we were to have a confrontation. Not a violent one, not unpleasant either. But I was there to say some things D__ did not want, and to hear some things I did not. As the saying goes, just business.

"So what is up with the linen bill? Do I understand correctly that you are charging $10 per bed per night for the bedding?" Asks D__. I was not ready for this one. Caught me off guard from the start.

"Well yeah," don't stammer, don't say 'uh' "I, uh, we, well. With the shipping and laundry we are not even breaking even on the linins. Higher_Power wouldn't let us raise the rates. We had to use this loophole to make our money. Higher_Power approved it."

"So you are going to charge $20 for a two night stay on the same bedding?"

"Yeah, uh." Damnit, you just did it again. "Like I said, it is the only way to make our laundry and shipping bill back."

"Is there any way to get the linen rates reduced?"

"No, if you push the issue I could probably get you fresh linens for each night stay." The answer is weak and shows in his face.

"That doesn't help, how about reducing the rates for us."

"Well, I will have to consult my business partner K__ on this." An obvious dodge, keep spinning it. "You see, we agreed she would be the head of this facility and that I wouldn't make any decisions about it without her."

"Sure, get back to me."

This D__ is crafty. He set the tone and put on the defensive from the start.

"I also wanted to ask about the propane." He says. "We have several tanks mostly full with propane?"

This one is also unexpected, but not as difficult. I could actually use the propane. "That sounds reasonable. How many tanks do you have?"

"Uhh, four or six." ha, I made him say 'uh'

"Are they the same tanks you bought from us back when?"

"Yea, and mostly full right now. We would need to sell the propane too."

"That is within the realm of possibility. Include them in the inventory you are making for us."

"Can we get you to reconsider on buying back the blankets?"

"Doubt it. My experience with the bedding is that the blankets are the first things to wear out. I couldn't buy yours without inspecting them."

"They are in pretty good shape, we have kept them from the mice, they are ok."

"Are they the same blankets you bought from us in '96?"


"You want me to buy back ten year old blankets?"

D__ looks down and away, "Yea, they are still good. They last."

Now that I was back on confident ground I gave D__ a good hard look. His nose was purple and windburned and his eyes a crazy intense blue. He fit the look of a youthful outdoorsman. About my age, perhaps younger. I decided to be impressed that he was holding down the fort on his shiny clean giftshop lobby and doing his business as he was. Like me he was working hard at carving his niche. Now that I wasn't off guard from his first question I could see him as equal. I smiled with the knowing that he needed more from me than I needed from him.

"And what do you think of the fundraiser." D__ asks. My best topic. The issue I was most prepared to talk him down on. I had three solid reasons and a secret weapon. I was ready to argue down all his points.

"No, I don't think we can do it."

"Ok, thought we would ask." I am almost disappointed he doesn't want to hear my three reasons and force me to pull my secret weapon.

We talked about his reservations and deposit payment. He pulled out credit cards for the hefty bills and promptly dismissed my papers as past business.

"Do you send out these confirmation notices to all your customers?"

"Yes we do."

"Could you include one of our flyers in with each of those?"

I resist the urge to laugh. "Well my first thought would be postage. We had the scales out the other day and figured out we can only send three of our own flyers before the rates go up."

"Well we refer all the people we talk to on the phone over to you, we though you could do something nice for us."

Yea, that's cause you can't refer them to the motel six. Where else would you refer someone who wanted our services. We are one of a kind here. "My second thought would be what's in it for me to do your advertising?"

"What's in it for you?" He is smiling at least. "Well the goodwill of your neighbors of course."

"How about this? Could you cook dinner for all our guests on the nights you are on location?" One unreasonable request deserves another.

"Well, uh, well. No, I don't think that would work so well."

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