I remember writing an article some years ago saying that there was no point in coming to Spain to open a corner shop because all the corners were already occupied by Spanish traders, open at all hours. It would seem that things have changed considerably since then. It may have something to do with the fact that the shops are no longer the front room of the home and the business is no longer part of the family everydays life.
But now that you have to have your business premises away from your own home it would seem that the meaning of business has taken a peculiar meaning here on the Costa del Sol.
For example, the best time for people to go shopping is when they are off work. This is when they can spare and, if they like, even enjoy their free time while shopping. So why is it that most of the businesses close early on Fridays, including the foreign owned ones? Why is it that practically all the shops close on Saturday afternoon? Just look at the number of shoppers at the supermarkets! They are open and they get the business! It is common sense.
But this is not my only observation. The attitude of shop assistants and business owners alike leaves a lot to be desired. This is the only place in the world where the client has to adapt to the individual convenience of shop keepers.
When they say we open at 9 am it should mean that they are ready to serve at that time. Are they? Oh No! It means that they will turn up to open the door at 9 am, that is if they are not late, but they wont be ready to serve until they have done what it takes before serving. Depending on the type of business, it could take up to 20 minutes or half an hour. Most annoying of all are the bars where people need to go for breakfast on their way to work.
What about the service when they are open? It is as if they are doing you a favour to actually serve you, they seem to forget that you are paying for the privilege of being served and this does not apply just to bars and restaurants, it applies to most other retailers.
Have you noticed the bars that close for lunch? And the shops that close because its some kind of unofficial fiesta somewhere? Even the banks close at times when people need them most.
Shops open and close at their own convenience and the service is generally poor. Of course, business is bad and the financial crisis is to blame! I am sure there is truth in that; however the pain of the crisis could be alleviated if only shopkeepers realised that they earn their money by providing a service and that they are not owed a living by everyone else.
I could not fail to notice that when one particular English bar, surrounded by another 3 or 4 other similar competitors, decided to open for breakfast. Within days all the others started to open in the mornings offering the same. Does this mean that someone needs to start the ball rolling and set the example?
But then even this could be counterproductive in some respects. Taking the above example, now there are 5 bars offering breakfast within yards of each other. Whereas the bar that set the example deserves full marks, why couldnt the others think of something else to do to attract their clients with a different good idea?
Why steal an idea that works and make sure that no one makes a living from it? The market sized is fixed; the more there are providing the same service the more have to share the same limited market. This is something else that needs to be considered.
In my opinion, if you want to start a business on the Costa del Sol, first of all start with your own idea, do not copy other businesses just because they seems to work.
Research, make sure that the service you wish to provide is or will be in demand and when you start the business remember you have to give service to your clients.
There are far too many businesses now on the Costa offering the same services and products to the limited market, some are beyond the joke. So do try and consider a business different from estate agency, web designing, graphic design, advertising, publications, search engine optimisers, property maintenance there are far too many.
There are also far too many who believe they can start a business the same way as they do at home, forgetting that this is Spain, where it is illegal to do any work without registering for I.V.A. and Social Security.
You can spot these because they usually advertise with a mobile number and give no address. They dont want to be found especially by clients when theywhen they provide a bad service or get away with their money.
This last is a warning for consumers.