MARKETING THE SCHOOL ABROAD…1995
As I’ve previously mentioned, at this time I had the management team of the Morris School, including Sidney Morris, running the operation in London. Unfortunately, what Mr. Morris had failed to tell me was that he was the “owner” of a large number of franchise businesses in the Far East, owned & operated by a “partner” in Malaysia, using not just the Morris name, but using MY name as well & obviously without my knowledge. How did I find out about all this? Let me explain.
We landed in Singapore after taking a connecting flight from Malaysia, checked into our hotel & literally, as we opened the door to our room, the phone started ringing. A rather strange sounding, very excitable man was at the other end of the line, & to be as brief as possible, the conversation went as follows:
“Meet me in the lobby NOW or I’ll contact the immigration people & get you deported. You can’t come here to work so meet me NOW”!
OK, what would you do? I just couldn’t understand who this person was or what he wanted but I knew that if I didn’t meet him there & then I wouldn’t be able to carry on with my marketing trip. I girded my loins & took the lift down to the lobby to meet him. I recognised him immediately, don’t ask me how, but there he was dressed as a Kevin Keegan lookalike, curly perm & all, except he was of Chinese not Liverpudlian heritage. We introduced ourselves, sat down & then this whole situation became abundantly clear.
It appeared that without my knowledge, Mr. Morris had told this guy that he’d moved premises to another part of London, forgetting to tell him that his business name had been transferred to ME & that he no longer owned anything, & was now working for Alan d. Unfortunately, this person didn’t believe me, because he went on to show me his brochure. Naturally, it had MY business name & London address on it. Apparently it was being circulated all over the Far East in more than 60 locations & idiot me knew nothing about it!
By this time I felt that a call up to my room was in order because Bonnie needed to know where I was & if I was still alive! I simply said I was ok, see you in a minute. I promptly ended my meeting with a rather strongly worded assurance to this guy that he, & Mr. Morris, would hear from my lawyers very shortly.
Ok, that was the simple bit. Have you ever tried to stop someone doing something they’re doing in good faith some 7000 miles away. As I found out much later, you can put all the obstacles in the way legally, but it’s virtually impossible to enforce. I contacted Edward at home in the UK, asked him to call my lawyer & when we spoke the following day, he laughed! He recommended me to firm of specialist lawyers in Singapore & I spent the best part of the next day with them trying to clean up this horrible mess.
Meanwhile I had to clarify the situation at our school in London. What could I do? The man I’d entrusted to run the business had failed to tell me that although I’d spent thousands of Pounds on advertising my trip, flights, hotels & all the other expenses to get to the Far East, he’d let me go there like a lamb to the slaughter! Anyway, as you can imagine, the rest of this particular episode of my international debut wasn’t pretty. We knew we had a massive issue to deal with on our return to the UK, but for the time being we had to carry on as we had previously arranged to meet with
Bonnie & I met some extremely nice people on that trip as well. In fact, we still keep in contact with a lady who had a hairdressing school in Singapore & who knew of this person we had all that trouble with. I think she described him as a cowboy, but actually it wasn’t his fault that he’d been misled.
I won’t go into all the gory details of the way in which we clarified the use of our name. Suffice to say, any future revenue we earned from my trip was soon outweighed by the fees incurred with lawyers both at home & in the Far East. Mr. Morris was swiftly “retired” & an announcement in the HJ stated that he was standing down to give the younger generation (me) the chance to put their stamp on the hairdressing industry. Thanks for nothing!
Remember, do your research thoroughly before you get involved with anything outside of your normal day to day routine, otherwise you could end up with a bit more than egg on your face. As you can tell, I speak from bitter experience.