I don’t want to complain, but …

These days it seems that everyone has something to complain about. Whether it’s the Government, the NHS or the way children behave towards their elders, there will be some issue you’ll pick up on when listening to people chat. And some of the moans might seem quite legitimate to the “moan-er” but trivial to the “moan-ee.”

So, can you imagine what your reaction would be if someone walked up to you and said, “I don’t like the colour of your house. So you’d better change it!” Well that’s exactly what happened to Ann and Mark Kennedy when they decided to spruce up their listed cottage with the same colour paint it has been for at least the last 12 years. The new coat of paint was, well … too pink! That is what new paint does, it isn’t the faded version. Now, there can be a whole debate on whether the colour is appropriate to the era, whether it breaches the Listed Building Consent guidelines etc etc – but what this does illustrate is that one complaint (yes, ONE) can throw someone’s best laid plans and intentions into turmoil.

The debate can also revolve around the “officiousness” of some councils and their employees, or of some individuals who think they are above the law – like in the case of the town councillor Angie O’Grady who felt that the Town House in Llandudno should “let her in” after closing time and thereby breach the licensing policy. Possibly the good councillor had had such a good time at bingo she merely wanted to re-live some of the ambience, but the Public Services Ombudsman (yes, it got THAT far) found that she “had used her position to attempt to gain an advantage for herself.”

As some are so quick to tell us, there are lessons that can be learned. How to complain and how to handle complaints are paramount. There is even advice out there on how to deal with complaints about noise – which is pretty useful if you have a local troubadour in once a week. Doing things the right way will go a long way towards getting a gripe attended to in an amicable way. The recipient of a gripe, by handling things correctly, could retain a customer or even create a loyalty that wasn’t present before. This is particularly applicable to those in the hospitality industry (that business of the feeding, watering and housing of guests).

Sea dog

With so many different tastes, preferences and foibles a host has to consider, he’d be forgiven for throwing his hands in the air at some point and wondering if it was all worth the effort. But successful businesses will confirm what Jon Rutter and his team of stocktakers will also confirm – that with careful planning, doing things the right way and with conscientious attention to detail, dealing with any gripes becomes an opportunity not a discouragement. Apart from the nuts and bolts of ensuring there is enough beer in the cellar, Rutters team members who know their local area will also give whatever feedback that landlords need in order to stay successful, and possibly also on the good side of the local residents.

Who knows, they might even comment on the colour you painted the building, or the quality of your ornaments displayed on your shelves. Unfortunately, there will always be something someone doesn’t like – hopefully, if it is the ornaments, they won’t start chucking the Toby Jugs around. People can be interesting, but some are just not happy unless they’re miserable.