Last May I got a nasty letter from a client letting us know they were dropping our contract. It was a shock and also a relief. Well, the letter wasn’t actually nasty but the way these people went about it was. I’ve always based my finances on worst-case scenarios. When I got my mortgage I could’ve gotten a higher payment but I specifically asked for the very lowest it could be, just for the what-if scenario. I want to be comfortable, not stretched to the limit financially. This strategy has proved beneficial in my young life.
Back to that letter, I sat down then realizing I’d lost income and looked at what I could do to mitigate my losses. It was a relief to find I had already achieved a good emergency fund, no credit-card debt and monthly bills that are manageable even on a part-time job. I would be okay.
I try to do business in a way that is honourable. I don’t promise things I can’t come through on and in the industry I work in, commercial janitorial services (although that isn’t the only thing we do) that way of doing business – the right way – is, well, unheard of. The industry is dominated by middle-aged men, rife with corruption and bribery, very low margins and a very high staff turnover. At least, in my little section of the world it is. (I’d be glad to show you around to prove this 😉 ) People are jaded in this industry, and rightly so: most customers are only willing to pay the bare minimum.
We got into this by accident, one of my parents started a side-gig as a cleaner when we moved to Canada. Eventually we were offered the contract, and more contracts. Based on the quality of our work and work-ethic. Through the past 5 years we’ve gained and lost contracts and people but we’ve always stuck to one principle: honesty. We don’t promise the moon to clients unless we can actually deliver, we’ve butted heads because of this and one client actually stated that the way they do business is; they tell us what they want and we do it no matter the cost. We collectively scoffed at that. We expressed to this client, some months ago that their expectations were higher than what could humanly be done, in addition with no increase in rates in over four years and costs only increasing (hello, inflation) things were getting impossible. We indicated our inability to continue in the current situation and if no change was made our desire to discontinue.
Instead of realistically working this out, Wednesday night I received another letter, from the same client, dropping the rest of the contracts. I felt a mixture of relief and anger: with one letter I lost half my company, on the other hand with one letter – also – I gained back my freedom from people whom by doing business with them, I discovered, did not do so honourably. Everything I do is weighed against the bar of: is this the right thing to do? The real world isn’t always like that.
The letters I received came from some anonymous lawyer in a corporate office somewhere. None of the people we deal with directly had the balls to speak up. Having tried to reach one person in particular for weeks, with whom I enjoyed working, I am disappointed and angry and hurt. I feel like my boyfriend of 4 years broke up with me by text-message. Now, the cycle continues as it has for many years here. Another sucker gets to try to do it better, for the same price, eventually can’t and is dropped.
Sunday I leave for NYC for a week of discovering a city I’ve always dreamed of visiting and hopefully time for reflection, when I come back it’s almost Christmas and I’ll spend some time figuring things out, get back into writing and blogging and to see what all of you have been up to! I’ll also have to sit down and budget and figure out what my new income will be, where and what I will be working etc.
The timing of this letter is almost creepily impeccable. I had already decided I wanted to move on, perhaps get my masters back in the Netherlands if I can get in. Another client just in the last month indicated they were very happy and mentioned the opportunity of more work. I’ve just finished my last full-time semester to obtain my bachelors last week and one of my parents was recently offered a job they wanted starting at the same time the contracts we just lost, end. Like one of the girls that works for us said: “I suppose everything happens for a reason.”
In conclusion; I feel sad and happy at the same time and the future, once again, is wide-open just waiting to be discovered.