Was it Chaucer, in a reference to vulnerability? “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. Do you know that running a website with unique birdhouses and many a glass bird feeder is one thousand times easier than trying to sell it and close a deal? This is basically just a vent it & forget sort of post, and since it’s my blog… well it’s a good place to do so.
Let me introduce some nice folks by the name of Ed and Deb, yes, those are their real names, and if I never, never hear them again it will be all too soon. Where did they come from and who are they?
Actually The Birdhouse Chick.com was listed for sale not too long ago, and there was much preparation involved in just getting it to market. It seems the technical aspects of the website, and Google’s fantastic new shopping model (not), the ever changing web, and lightening fast technology just don’t jive with the chick herself anymore – makes my head spin and it’s not what I signed up for five+ years ago.
Yes, I do this business myself; website, blog, buying and sourcing, marketing, fulfillment, janitor, customer service… everything that a 26-hour day allows! The face of retail’s changed a lot, and competing with the big boys is not my forte. In fact, certain aspects of retail are beginning to turn my stomach. One of the big ones being, who can import the most junk from overseas and sell it the cheapest? Do you know that on some “shopping channels” companies now spell the manufacturer’s name backwards to exclude them from price comparison? Oh please give me a personal break here, what’s the next low to dupe the consumer?
Our customers? Absolutely love them! They are the best, at least 20% are repeats, and many have become friends with out of state visits (Janners), text messages when it’s time to order live worms (Captain Ralph), Linda in VA who always asks for bigger discounts, a thank you and hand made gift from a customer in CA… the list goes on and on! We receive photos, lots of testimonials, and that in itself is pretty darn rewarding! You see, we (I) set out to do something different in 2008, to build a better product (business) that stood out from all the rest, in personal customer service, better quality products, and unique birding items that were not found all over the web.
But back to the story: Ed and Deb were very interested in purchasing the Birdhouse Chick.com (I think the testimonials and warm & fuzzies appealed to them, or to Deb anyway). Certainly the numbers must have done something to gain their attention too? They proceeded to make an offer, and although the offer was accepted, they sorta got cold feet and backed out. Quite understandable (especially when one’s earnest money is refunded in full) and you’ve never run your own e-commerce business before. Now what’s the point of “earnest money” if you can just walk away with a full refund? Oh yeah… they also knew nothing about running an e-commerce site, a merchant account, how you get the orders, or how the money makes to your bank. I believe the four-page prospectus/interview stated” “Someone with e-commerce knowledge, and a bit of marketing savvy would be best suited”.
Besides some local folks right here in Atlanta were interested as well (they have three websites), so after the wind had been knocked out of my sails, I thought we’d just move on. As a means of closure, I sent Ed and Deb a letter addressing their concerns. Basically it was a very polite dose of reality. Never in a gazillion years did I think they’d respond, and in retrospect, I truly wish they wouldn’t have 🙁
You see, their original offer was back on the table! Huh? This really mucked up the waters now, as a choice needed to be made: Door number one with Ed & Deb, or Door number two with Atlanta folks? Well whenever there’s a 50/50 shot at the correct decision… for some reason I can manage to get that wrong 90% of the time. Since we’re already “in the works” so to speak, Ed and Deb are chosen, and it’s full steam ahead! They were double loaded with questions and concerns, and how-to’s, and yada, yada, yada. During the busy month of May, I took time to answer myriads of questions, trained on blogging, gathered a vendor list, and countless other tasks, which also in retrospect, should not have even commenced until AFTER closing. Due diligence and training definitely converged down the wrong path on this deal.
Wanting a later closing date, I asked: “Well, Ed, what if I go through all this training stuff and you back out again?” You know what he said? “We won’t do that to you again”. Now, let me state that once more: “We won’t do that to you again”. Ed was granted access to all accounts, could see daily sales, contact emails, everything pertaining to his new business to be. That’s quite a large girth for pre-closing, wouldn’t ya say? All because, “we won’t do that to you again”. Omg… how could one possibly be so stupid and survive in the business world? But I could also ask this: how does a broker allow their client to fall within such a vulnerable spot? Simply reiterating that there were “risks associated with both choices” just doesn’t seem like a whole lot of thought or effort was put forth in securing the deal or protecting the seller?
Since this story is long enough, let me just wrap it up by saying, “Yes, they did do that again” One week before closing (and because Ed and Deb got to dance with full earnest money back) they did indeed “do that to me again”. So now, the broker has lost, the brokerage firm has lost, the referrer has lost, I’ve lost a true, local buyer here in Atlanta. And to boot… what I thought was poison ivy- is shingles from the sheer stress of working with this bogus buyer and over-booked broker.
Hey Ed, may your irrigation system cause you as much pain and suffering as you’ve caused me, and may others always do unto you as you’ve done to them.
So, you wanna sell your website? I’ve no good advice at this point, but hey, if you’re interested in The Birdhouse Chick.com… just give me a call or shoot an email… Glass bird feeders and all 🙂