How does one retire gracefully? This is a problem that all of us have either met or, I sincerely hope, will meet. Remember, you young ones, the time will come when you will be old. So please give those of us approaching old age plenty of respect.
We always say we are getting older, never that we are old, as the latter is a rather depressing thought. However, when we hand over, there are certain things we should remember; one very important thing is, do not go into your building too often nor stay very long. The reason I say this is that, when you enter your old building, everyone will stop and talk to you and, personally, I am not in favour of paying people to talk to me, as I am paying their wages. Plus, you are really in the way, as you no longer know the day-to-day routine and you are wasting their valuable working time.
We have to face the fact that, while we older ones may have a great deal of experience, we have had our working time. The young have to make their own mistakes and rejoice in their own successes.
Recently I had a sharp jolt, as our MD Neville showed me some photos of one of our shops, which I opened only some eight or nine years ago. He also did some mock-ups of his ideas for fascia boards, logos and printing and, I must confess, it made the originals look terrible. Never had I realised how quickly things get out of date. We are now having to look at a total rebranding, which will cost a lot of money.
Like many of you, I thought there would come a time when I would stop having to spend every penny I made on improvements to the company, but every time I speak to Neville, he has found a new way to spend money and improve on what I had left behind. The hurtful thing is that he is right and we have to keep spending to survive and, hopefully one day, prosper.
Back to business, I would suggest many of us could and should look at our shops to see how dated they have become. The hard fact is the young, who have money to spend, will not spend it in shops that are not ’with it’ in modern terms.
I find it hard to spend money on ideas, rather than material things that I can see, such as equipment for the bakery or shop fittings. We have to accept that, in the majority of bakery companies, we can produce more than we can sell, so marketing is something we not only have to pay lip service to, but actually part with money for.
Should you have any doubts, look at the pub chains; they are always changing and the national chains are constantly trying out new concepts. I think they know more than me, otherwise why are they big while I am small?