Alan O’Neill Entrepreneur: 'Entrepreneurs need to get the finger out, not point it'

It’s easy — and understandable — to blame others when external factors hit our businesses. But we must take control to survive.

In a previous career, more than 25 years ago, I was a retailer with a number of stores in Dublin. One of them was located in a Dublin shopping centre that was struggling in the mid-1980s. Even though it had a strong anchor tenant, footfall into the centre was poor in the early years.

There were about 15 other stores in the centre owned by independents just like me.   As with most centres, we each paid rent and a service charge in proportion to the size of our units. By market standards, both charges were high.

One of the other retailers suggested that we all come together to badger the landlord for a rent reduction. In my naivety I went along with this battle, which took hours and hours of meetings. After months of mediation meetings, legal shenanigans, rows and threats, we got a reduction of about 25pc on the rent.

At the time, my rent accounted for about 20pc of net sales. So that reduction of 25pc allowed for a 5pc drop in my gross sales target. I think anyone reading this would say that is a positive result. And it was.

But, in hindsight, I wonder if we had all spent the same amount of time working together and focused our energies on marketing ideas to drive footfall, might we have increased our sales by more than 5pc? I personally would prefer an increase in full-margin sales of 5pc, which means getting more customers, clearing more stock, paying employees, etc.

The rent reduction was, of course, an appropriate correction — but that battle was all-consuming. It was a very negative distraction for too long a time. Each one of us signed a lease, with our numbers crunched in advance, knowing full well what we were getting in to. Why was fighting with the landlord our only answer?

Read the Full article in the Irish Independent

 

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