When you work in brokerage you get used to receiving a certain of number of prank calls in addition to crank calls and time wasters (more about the last two another time). I still get the odd one even though I am now retired.
I have had lots of good and hilarious prank calls in the past. Calls wanting me to sell the Conservative Party, Heathrow Airport, the England football team and more!
Anyway I had a brilliant one today. Some wag wanted to raise £3 million to abolish the Women’s Institute in the UK!
Why did I like this? As I have explained in my blog “Gossip Groups” the Women’s Institute are probably unknowingly are most likely to be the biggest reason that businesses for sale see drops of turnover during the sale process and sometimes thus drops in sale price if they advertised openly because of WI gossip about local businesses and the way it spreads. Some of this gossip is quite catty and quite a bit of it rather nasty. With turnover dropping in the range of between 2 and 14% in a process that can easily last a year because of gossip this can mean a drop in the sale price of up to 10%! This is the reason I always advised highly confidential sales. I heavily researched this topic a good while back before I wrote the original blog.
Here are some examples of the gossip that I have seen:
- Got food poisoning from there (10-15 times)
- He is having an affair with a member of staff (9 times)
- The owner has a drug problem (9 times)
- The owner is engaged in tax fraud (7 times)
- My absolute all time favourite. The owner is an international arms smuggler on the side! (Only once but still!)
This sort of tittle tattle can affect peoples livelyhoods.
When I researched gossip groups and their effect on businesses for sale we found that the top three gossip creators or spreaders in order were:
- Women’s Institute
- The school gates
- Church groups
I was tempted to offer to chip in a few hundred notes to this chaps endeavours but it turned out to be a prank. In a way I wanted it to be on the level. I did mention to him that I wished he wasn’t a prankster. He offered no response. He came through on a withheld number too. Pranksters often do that.
In all honesty while the gossip can be very nasty I believe two things, firstly that the Women’s Institute or other gossip groups have no idea what harm their gossip can actually do in situations such as business sale or business transfer and secondly I believe that they will never stop gossiping either! Thus this situation with gossip, turnover and sale price achievement will run and run. It has been ever present through my time in brokerage and running a business deals listing magazine and I still hear stories in my retirement too. I will bet ten pounds that in twenty years’ time the same thing will still be happening!