Control Your Business and get into the driver’s seat

Our client felt like it had been a passenger in this process for almost three years and had not had the enjoyment of its property for at least this period. In addition, it felt that it was being proactive by taking steps available to it but those efforts were constantly thwarted by the ineffectiveness of a useless police service, despite the law and a court order on our client’s side. The reality reflected that its efforts to take control of the situation were ineffective and it was, simply put, not in the driver’s seat.  After much discussion, the client decided to get into the driver’s seat.

The client purchased a huge industrial siren and a proactive plan was conceived (certainly not on our legal advice). The siren produced a piercing, unpleasant noise and was easily a match for any music system, dominating loud music like a mosquito dominates your bedroom on a summer evening. That weekend, newly armed with steely determination and a bloody, great big siren, the client took control of the situation. At 01h00 in the morning, a deafening racket still emanated from the party venue and a polite request to turn down the music was ignored. The police did not arrive after being summoned and so, the siren was turned on. Party over.

Fifteen minutes later the police did arrive – after being summoned by an understandably angry and intoxicated bridegroom. But, you see, the police had already set a precedent of taking no effective action against noise nuisance. They insisted that the siren be turned off, which it duly was… until the music was turned on again. And so it went: music on, siren on.

The offending neighbours rapidly lost all credibility as a wedding venue and became quieter and quieter. Wedding parties withheld payment and one can only imagine the frosty beginning to many a honeymoon. The police were effectively hogtied by their own behaviour – they had not enforced noise nuisance by-laws when the noise was made by the neighbouring venue and as such, they were also not able to do so when our client reciprocated with its clamorous siren.

Happily ever after

Now, I am not for one moment advocating vigilante responses to law-breaking neighbours. I am, however, strongly advocating an honest look at your reality and putting yourself firmly into the driver’s seat, using the legal framework at your disposal. Not all police services and court orders are as useless as they are in South Africa but you need to work with the system you have – much like our client did (* see note below).

An adjustment needs to take place in your approach and attitude. The necessary, honest evaluation and creative solution will often flow as a matter of course once you have elected to identify the source of the problem and overcome it. Initially, this can be a difficult decision to make, but give it a try the next time the opportunity arises and you will find it becomes more manageable and natural with practice, until it becomes a habit. By electing to identify the source of the problem, you have made a choice. It is no longer being made for you and you are proactive rather than reactive.

Look at the reality of your business and ascertain where your business is being pushed into uncomfortable corners. Do not allow yourself to be a passenger in your business – get into the driver’s seat and control your business!

*(This article is not intended as an exercise in “South Africa bashing” as it is my home of birth and choice, but all homes come with defects and this one just happens to be a real “fixer-upper”, as estate agents so euphemistically term it.)

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