Chapter Forty-Four

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I stayed in Vancouver a little longer than I had expected. Steve allowed me to continue to stay at his parents' house while he and the others flew back to Ontario. There were still a lot of things I needed to take care of at the restaurant. 

I called my old roommate, Chris. Chris was now running a small construction crew that specialized in remodeling high-end homes. I figured since he had worked at Andre's, he could oversee the entire project and input a lot of really great ideas.  

"You bought Andre's?" he asked in disbelief. 

"Yeah, I'm putting over a million dollars into renovating it." 

"How did you afford that?" 

"I went in on it with a friend and plan on getting a loan from the bank. If this doesn't work out, I'm screwed. I'm completely tapped out." 

"That's crazy, man, good for you." 

"So yeah, are you interested in taking on this renovation project?" 

"Sure, I'd love to." 

A few days later, I met Chris outside the restaurant. We spent the next several hours going through the place inside and out. He had some great ideas on how to improve the functionality as well as the aesthetics of the restaurant. He even went over the current staff list and advised me on some people we should let go. 

We developed a clear vision of what the renovations should look like. My next steps after that were to hire an architect to draft up the plans and secure the funding.  

*** 

"Mr. Morrison, welcome. Please have a seat." 

"Thank you." 

"So what brings you to my office today?" 

"I have to say, it was much easier to get an appointment with you this time around." 

"I'm not sure I follow." 

"You probably don't remember me, but I came in here about seven years ago looking for a job and I ended up working in the credit card division for four years."  

"I vaguely recall someone leaving a series of messages on my answering machine." 

"Guilty," I said laughing. "I can be very persistent when I want something." 

"And what is it that you want today, Mr. Morrison?" 

"Mr. Jones, I'm not here today for a job. In fact, my partner and I just purchased a controlling share of Andre's Seafood Restaurant and we are seeking a small business loan to help finance a renovation project." 

"Where is your partner?" 

"He couldn't make it today; however, I have been fully authorized to discuss these matters on my own." 

"Very well then, what do you have for me?"  

I opened my briefcase, reached into my brown leather folder, took out a copy of the plans, and handed them to him. I watched his eyes scan the documents. "Mr. Jones, as you may know, Andre's has been serving people for over forty years. I'm just looking to give the place a much-needed modern facelift. The high-end décor will enhance the already popular menu, plus with the prime location, I expect to do quite well."  

The branch manager at National Group Bank looked up at me and studied my attire. I wore a classic three-piece Armani suit, courtesy of Steve's dad's closet. A lot of people make judgments based on appearance - even the ones who claim they don't are just not aware they're doing it. That was why it was important for me to look the part of a successful business owner.  

"Mr. Morrison, I have to say, I'm quite impressed with these plans, but the restaurant industry is highly risky. Typically, for the bank to grant this type of loan to a person, they would have a considerable amount of experience and collateral. It's just a way for us to reduce our exposure to risk. Now, let me ask you a question, what experience do you have running a restaurant?" 

"I have worked in the restaurant industry for several years and have acquired a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of the business. I assure you my ownership will not impede the historical success of the restaurant, it will only enhance it. Please keep in mind this is an established restaurant in a prime location in downtown Vancouver with a successful track record of over forty years. We are keeping a lot of the same staff, management, and the previous owner still has a substantial stake. Therefore, the risk is not the same as starting a new restaurant. 

"Mr. Jones, my team has already started construction. I'm just asking for a little loan to help facilitate the cost. I should be able to pay this money back within a couple of years."  

Mr. Jones continued to study my proposal.  

"Mr. Jones, I came to you first because of my history with you and the bank, but I have several other meetings today. I was hoping we could do a deal today, but obviously you need more time. I don't want to push you into anything, so why don't you get back to me when you've reached your decision?" I snapped the locks on my briefcase shut and stood up. I turned around and began to make my exit. This was the art of the hustle. 

"How much were you looking for?" he asked, taking the bait right on cue. I turned around to face him once again. 

"I'm just looking at financing a small renovation project, not much, just around one million, perhaps more," I said.  

"I think we can do that. Can you come back in an hour? I'll have all the documents drawn up." 

"Thank you Mr. Jones, I appreciate it. You've made the right decision," I couldn't resist using my sales techniques on him, one last positive reassurance statement to secure the deal. I don't think he realized what I was doing, but I could not afford to have him change his mind. "I'll see you in one hour." 

Now that the funds were in order, I called Chris and gave him the green light. He and his crew got to work right away and started tearing the place apart. With such a major project underway, I decided to stick around Vancouver to monitor the progress and handle any problems that might arise.

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