Wednesday, 26 August 2009

How To Run A Furniture Shop In Oman

Ok, I'm tired of flogging the dead horse that is Ramadan so, as an extension of Jamilla Camel's debacle with her new bed, let me give her and other newbies in Oman the rundown on the phenomenon that is "Deliveries" in this town.

The situation is a result of a few traits that can all be combined and summed up in one word....greed:

Source the cheapest Chinese shit-excuse for furniture that you can find and sell it on for ten times the price. 
Never mind if parts are missing...that's not your problem. You will never be facing the customer....ever.

Get the cheapest Indian, Pakistani or whatever to do the job - no qualifications needed.
When he gets here, reduce his salary even further with "deductions" for air ticket etc.
(This will do wonders for his morale.)
Take his passport away and inform him that he has no rights here in Oman.
(More morale building.)

Make sure that you choose floor-staff who have only basic English - they are cheaper to employ and when you drop their salaries and cheat them out of bonuses and days-off etc you can just claim that they did not understand you during the original negotiations and after all, they did sign a contract.

Put the fear of God, Shiva, Allah or whoever into your employees and further compound that cultural flexibility with the truth, so that no matter what the customer wants, they will tell you it is possible, because if it's not possible and the customer walks out the door, you will personally have them transferred to Salalah or some other far-off land as punishment, take a month's salary as compensation and refuse to pay their return flights home.

Your delivery team has to be made up of at least one Omani - this is the law. 
The work ethic is low to non-existent here (don't protest - you know it's true for the menial jobs and I have been here too long to take the wishy-washy crap that is the usual argument for not doing anything.).
Qualifying criteria for a local or "token" Omanisation statistic in a low-level services position appears to be the ability to fog a mirror.
Can't blame him on anything though because he was sitting in the truck all the time.

Work your Indian and Sri Lankan "carpenters" for at least twelve hours a day and then leave them in the squalid conditions that you call "accommodation" - four walls and a roof is NOT a job well done on your part. 
People need proper care and support (especially those who are away from family and friends through no fault of their own and no reason other than a messed up and corrupt economy back home - poverty like you have never seen, folks), proper furniture and facilities, air conditioning that works and when it doesn't you fix it THERE AND THEN and not when you can tear yourself away from your phone, the bar or the massage parlour. 
It doesn't matter that what you have provided is "better than he has at home" - you should be making a conscious human effort to far exceed what his standard of living is....he is making you a bloody fortune!

Gouges get taken out of headboards and scratches get ripped into chairs and tables because most of the time these guys are so tired, pissed-off and disheartened that they have simply lost the will to live and with the loss of primordial instinct that goes with that, you can expect a severe reduction in general competency, motivation and eye-hand co-ordination.

Dissent is bubbling under the surface. An employee rebellion could happen overnight and then what's going to happen? What would a "tools down" protest for a week achieve on the "copping on that you are at the mercy of the minority workforce - they just haven't realised it yet" front?

Have a look across the road in Qatar.
Outnumbered five to one.....can you imagine the carnage if it all kicked off over there?

This is Oman - things are not changing. This is how it is. You just have to roll with it.
I buy furniture, I collect it myself even if I have to rent a van to do it, and finally, I build it myself.
It keeps things under my control - and leaves my blood-pressure within limits.
I recommend you do the same.

However, that said, I still love this place to bits.


Slim said...

I hate to tell you this, but the salesman was Omani, and the delivery crew was 100% Omani too.
On the other hand, the Home Centre salesman and delivery staff were Indian. So, I guess generalisations don't always apply. But your point is taken about awful employment conditions.

It seems like the lack of customer care and attention starts from the top. And you're right: that furniture was not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

We are very glad that we've survived 10 days of furniture delivery and we can go about in peace with the rest of our living in Oman. Nawras, HSBC, The Wave, and the Post Office were painless by comparison.

Friday is almost here!

Jamilla Camel said...

Well, there's always IKEA at Dubai Festival City Mall...we're really happy with their customer service!

Our experience with IKEA in the UK has not always been perfect, but they at least answer their phones!

Jet Driver said...


"I hate to tell you this, but the salesman was Omani, and the delivery crew was 100% Omani too."

Case in point right there. Just haven't gone too far into the reasons for why the locals can do such a crap job - but in their case it is purely down to work ethic and not depravation.

The country had to give people everything in the past - and now they still expect handouts and money for nothing.

Fifty years ago, the work ethic was there. Oh boy was it there, like nothing you can imagine. Omanis knew how to work.

Bring a few of those boys in a time-machine to here and let them give you an opinion of the Yaris Squad.



Bollo said...

No comments!!
I have many such Indian lives...perhaps much worse than said!
Odd is that it is no better back here in the home-country - the employers even beat their young (child labourers are cheaper) employees - and the society supports the employer!
Hell yes, it is not going to change!

Anonymous said...

Just the right tone of sarcasm - bravo!


scarlet pimpernel said...

A message to our Ambassador

" Your excellency ! I see you in the glossy insides of every other tabloid in oman. My brothers i.e your brothers are rotting, do come and see us and our pitiful conditions when you get some time off cutting ribbons and flashing smiles."

Clare said...

Great commentary JD....hits the spot!

Anonymous said...

I was in Oman last year for one year. I love this country.

These was my short story:

Indian people was dominate everything there. Unfortunately they got paid very less.... RO50-RO60 is very less. The office guys seem very smart but no response when you contacted them..

The Indian guys control everything... but nothing for them...

There have also chinese to sell pirate VCD for RO1. Where she got this?

Thailand ladies worked for health centre... I like them. They did very professional.

Lastly, Thanks for Oman & I'll come again.