I had a meeting with a client yesterday who I took over last year from the retiring Bob but this was our first face to face meeting. He runs a family business with his wife and son and they are one of only four such businesses in the country and people come from all over the country to his showroom, whilst I was there he had a potential customer from Newcastle in who was spending two nights and two days trying out the particular product he sells.
Anyway whilst I was waiting for him to finish his previous appointment I began looking at the various new clippings/cuttings that were framed and on the wall of the room I was waiting in. Now I should say at this point that I had previously had the suspicion that this person and I had met way back in the mists of time, something purely based on a combination of his name and the fact that his business now was his hobby back then. The newspaper stories referred to his first tentative steps in this line of work beginning in 1984 which sort of fitted in with my idea. Anyway we went upstairs into his office and I began by asking him what he had done before 1984, he looked at me a little puzzled and so I offered by way of explanation, "Well, the reports downstairs only mention the period after that date, I was just being curious." He sat back and thought and reeled off four or five jobs that he had done back in the early 1980's none of which fitted my scenario, there was a long pause and then he said, "Oh and of course, I worked in the travel industry." Bingo!
"I knew it was you," I said and a slightly worried look spread across his face. "1980 or 1981, you were the manager of a travel agent in Bournemouth that I prepared the accounts for, you and me actually sat next to each other whilst I worked on the books."
He smiled and I could see that he was trying to remember more about those days thirty something years ago, "Blimey, that was a while ago."
I then explained to him why it had stuck in my mind. One morning when I was at this particular client a man and his wife walked through the door and told the boss that he (the customer not the boss) had just won the football pools and wanted to take his family off around the world as a celebration. There then followed, what seemed to me at any rate, a lot of brochure shuffling and discussions before they settled on a flight on Concorde, a trip to Disneyland, followed by Tahiti, Australia and then home. I explained that it had been a story that I had told and retold dozens of times over the years because despite having dealings with the holiday industry from 1978 to the present day I had not experienced anything like it before or since.
He smiled and said, "There certainly were some crazy times back then."
It was strange but it was a story and a connection that broke the ice that always forms when you take on a new client, whether internally or externally, and the discussion about the accounts and tax liabilities went smoothly.