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How NOT to run a business in Spain

By Mr Grumpy - Thu 6th Oct 2011

I badly needed to renew some UK documentation, and so with my parents coming over for a few days last week, I decided to seize the moment and do it there and then, giving me the opportunity to send the information back with them to post from the UK.

This just meant that I needed to get an up to date UK Passport sized photo, which any expat will tell you is totally different to the Spanish Passport / Driving Licence / Residencia sized photograph.

I also know from previous experience that the Nazi-Bureaucrat Jobsworths in the Uk will not accept a photo if the subject has anything but a neutral expression on their face or is wearing a hat or head covering (unless this is for religious purposes, of course...)

So the best option was to find a local Spanish photographer, ask all the right questions re sizes etc... and then get the job done there.

This gave me a window of 48 hours to download the relevant forms online, get the photos done, and return the completed forms with my parents. What could possibly go wrong ?

My first mistake, quite obviously, was to consider getting the photos done at the local Spanish photographers in the Village.

Upon dropping my daughter off at school I left my car parked in the school car park and walked into the Village - I knew it was market day and therefore the busiest day when the three parking spaces (and the fourth one, if you include the zebra crossing) would be in high demand.

The Photographers shop hadn't yet opened by 9.15, so I decided to do a spot of work and have a coffee at the local bar whilst I used their WIFI.

Almost an hour later, I wandered back down to the Photographers shop. Still closed. No sign in the window stating the days - let alone hours - of opening. No Website advised, let alone so much as a telephone number for me to call and make the necessary enquiries.

So I wandered back to the Bar - hardly worth me driving all the way back home for the sake of 30 mins before having to do the school run again. Whilst there I decided to have a look at one of the thousands of online business directories that seem to cover my area to see if I could find any contact listings for said photographer.

I could, but showing nothing more than an address, which I obviously already knew.

So come lunch time I walked back up to school to collect my daughter and decided to walk BACK into the village and try once again. The shop was still shut with no sign of opening, so I popped my head into the gift shop next door.

Upon asking when she opened I was told that she didn't open the shop on Market day (Heaven forbid the busiest day of the week would result in generating some business), but that she would be open sometime tomorrow morning.

So I repeated the same process after the school run the following day with the same (and totally expected) result. Closed.

This time I decided to ask about opening hours at the Bread shop across the road.

"She only opens the shop when she has some business" came the reply - and somebody please explain the logic in that to me, if you will.

So with my parents flying home in the afternoon I drove 15km up the road to the nearest Town to get the required photographs without any glitch at all.

I prefer to buy local whenever and wherever I can, but without the Photographer either A) Opening their shop , B) Advising when they might consider opening their shop, or C) Advising potential clients how they may be reached I cannot for the life in me see how she may ever be in a position to get any business at all. Closing on the busiest day of the week, and only opening the shop when you know for a fact you have business seems a little arse-forward as well.

But the one thing that made me choke on my Creme de menthe Frappe when I was in the Bar the following night was when the self-same photographer walked in and was asked by the owner how business was, only to hear her complain that nobody shopped locally anymore !

Comment on this Blog

As a Spanish businessman, I say you: don't worry, be happy. I work with transnational companies and the burocracy involved is a lot complex than to work with public burocracy of Spanish Government.
Sareb El Malo - Sun, 16th Dec 2012
Nope, Valencia. And to be fair Paul, I'm guessing that it could be typical for a lot of Spanish Provinces !
Mr Grumpy - Fri, 7th Oct 2011
I take it this was an Andalucian village, or am I wrong?
Paul - Fri, 7th Oct 2011
With many businesses having an attitude like this is it any wonder that the economy of the country is down the pan ? It just worries me that absolutely nada is going to change unless the locals challenge the situation themselves.
Mr Grumpy - Fri, 7th Oct 2011
Classic (and thanks for the laugh). How could you, Mr. Grumpy, expect ANY business to be open at 9.15? You need to mosey on down at ten twenty or so to have any chance of service. In English itīs called "business" ie. being busy but in Spanish itīs "negocio", "I negotiate." Also rather close to "ocio" or leisure. You were mightily lucky to get your photo taken at all!
Mo - Thu, 6th Oct 2011

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