The morning started peaceful and serene. A leisurely jog along a pleasant ocean side road. I was not harassed by any small yappy dogs for a change. They must be getting used to me by now. I chanced upon a film crew coming back from what remains of a large resort that was abandoned a couple of years back. As has become my routine, I sat at a coffee shop sipping on an icy drink while writing this blog. It never occurred to me that the day would become an exhausting challenge to the mind and will. This has created the topic for the day, but more about that shortly, first my day.
It started by another business opportunity coming our way. Another hotel of sorts. We went to take a look and discuss what the owners had in mind. When we saw the place we were blown away. Absolutely beautiful! It is a guest house with only 6 rooms. The rooms are palatial, a Jacuzzi or steam bath in every room, only 2 rooms a floor with a common living room between each. The top floor contains a spa and a balcony. The building is located near the tourist area, but closer to downtown. The best of both worlds for a walking tourist. This place would definitely be for the wealthier traveler. And the lease rate? Perhaps a bit high but affordable if a person ran the place well. It is something to ponder…
I went to the hotel to make some directions as to how the work was to proceed. The previous dealings have given me a bit of a reputation and the workers were already hard at work and commenting on my attention to detail and exactness. After choosing colors and showing where I want them applied, I was met by the building owner outside. Everything is going OK, however, I was told that I had to pay a year in advance, also put a deposit. The deposit was expected and I thought the one year in advance information had to be a mistake. When I confronted the landlady on it, she confirmed that the rent has to be paid a year in advance. WHAT!? This sounded absolutely ludicrous to me. Signing a lease and putting a deposit should be enough. STOP THE RENO’S!!…. Hang on…. I am not going to commit all the money I brought here and not have enough to carry on with other projects. After some brief arguing, I was totally prepared to walk away from the whole deal. The landlady left to consult with her husband, and I went off to think and get a few questions answered. I found out that indeed this one year policy is correct for a long term lease in Vietnam, however, I was not aware of this when I made my budget. I am not able to justify this kind of commitment right now. After some thought, we went back to discuss our final thoughts on this. The intention was to either hammer out some kind of month to month deal, or to walk away and cut our small losses.
We returned to the hotel and called the landlady to come over. She did, but asked for us to wait for her husband to come as he wanted to talk with me. After a little discussion and back and forth explanations, he announced that he liked very much our resolve and our demeanor. He has decided that it is in their best interest to make a compromise with us and keep the ball rolling. We shook hands and left with a deal we could both live with but not what we wanted. The process took us from 2 until 5:30pm
Dealing with Vietnamese is a bit different than at home. Almost everything has to be negotiated hard, and over a period of time. When you think the deal is done, something can change to start the process all over again. I have heard the same story from many sources over and over again. Some foreigners here have developed quite a prejudice against doing business if Vietnamese are involved. In the past, bribes and pay off money was a big reason for negotiations changing. Who knew when somebody else wanted a piece of the pie? To us, changing the conditions after a handshake is almost taboo. Here? Remember, everything is fluid and never stops. I have been told by Vietnamese people that buying a home can take months of visits, negotiations, and more. I am starting to get the feeling that many foreigners that come here to do business, get baffled and confused at the process. They then end up getting upset, insulted, or just good old fashioned mad at the deal they end up with due to bad negotiations, or showing weakness or indecision during the process. Vietnamese people are adept dealers and are very quick to pounce on any opportunity or sign of weakness.
Whether dealing with the purchase of a property or business, or dealing with a street kid looking to sell postcards, be prepared to walk away as I was with this hotel deal. They do want to make the sale or contract, and if you are offering something they want or need, the deal will get done!! If they are offering something you want or need, keep a hard resolve and still set your limit. If they see you will bend, they will force you to bend.
PS. I think my wife was even surprised at today’s dealings. Since we were married, she has never seen me dawn my business cap. In the end, all the arguing hard talking has gained me face and made me new friends, but I am glad it’s over.
Now, on with life and full steam ahead…… TooT.. TooT