In the spirit of CROSSHIRE

Rental Rate Roy is frustrated by people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.


Recently, our company was approached by a major blue chip contractor advising that they were wholly dissatisfied with the levels of service they were enjoying from their current supplier. Naturally we were interested in pursuing this further and we were supplied with a list of equipment that was required to kit out the contractor’s gangs. This included plate compactors, CAT scanners, brush cutters, chainsaws, hydraulic power packs and the list went on. The purchase value of all these items was well into six figures and would constitute the largest single spend on tools our company had ever made.

So, to ensure everyone was on board with us making a bid, I had the unenviable task of getting the proposal past our finance lady. Now, she is referred to in hushed tones within the business as the Blue-Rinsed Dragon. Someone who basks in the glory of refusing reasonable requests for expenditure just because she can. I interrupted her double- entry bookkeeping and she looked up from her desk (which resembled a scene devastated by a small tornado) with a disdain that could freeze a soul immediately. “I suppose you want to spend money again?” she hissed. I then proceeded to nervously sell the prospect of a potential 3-year contract to her whilst subconsciously jangling the keys and coins in my pockets. “Spreadsheets, I need spreadsheets,” she barked and I scuttled off back to the safety of my office.

Two days later, having obtained pricing for the new equipment from suppliers. I drew up a splendid spreadsheet with colours and differing margin scenarios. I even had enough courage to add a couple of bar charts. Pleased with my efforts, I chose a moment when she was not at her desk to e-mail them over to her. To my amazement, I received a response within the hour saying that they were expertly done and, as long as they were accurate, she saw no reason why she couldn’t sign it off! I was in shock. I’d actually managed to tame the Blue-Rinsed Dragon.

Cock-a-hoop with my victory, I immediately started putting my presentation together for the customer, offering different options and guaranteeing response times or turn-around

times for repairs. A most cordial meeting was had with the client and his finance colleague. We did our best to present our business honestly and accurately. They liked what they heard and enlightened us as to the failings of their current supplier. Within a day of our meeting they were e-mailing us with requests, looking for us to revisit a couple of prices, which we duly and promptly did. I told the team of our most excellent progress and made sure to mention the importance of the Blue-Rinsed Dragon’s involvement, which incidentally managed to curry zero favour with her whatsoever.

I left it with the customer for a week and then e-mailed as a follow up. Surprisingly, there was no response. A few days later I tried again, but once more, no response. Not wishing to be pushy, I decided to leave it for a while, but was galvanised into action as a result of a tongue-lashing from the Dragon on the subject of VAT quarters and expenditure. I contacted the client once more. On this occasion I received an immediate, albeit minimalistic, response: “I am sorry, but we have been stamped on for looking outside the group deals.”

And that was it. We had put in tremendous effort to price up a sizeable package of equipment - and I had risked life and limb presenting it to my finance department - all for nothing. The client had alluded to significant service level issues with their current supplier, which had resulted in them looking for alternatives, but they had immediately been shot down by their main group who patently know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

So normal service is resumed, with the Dragon treating every member of the management team as the enemy, and the enquiring client will continue to ‘enjoy’ shoddy service from their current supplier just because of idiotic group policy.

Happy hiring!


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