One of the things I have consistently been amazed by this internship is how much of it depends on dealing with people, and making use of them. In the end, finding a place to live is something particularly close to people’s hearts–and their wallets; people want to make the most of their time, money, and brains to make the most out of their stay. Any sudden flash of anger or ill-intended remarks could mean the lost of a business. A particular incident comes to mind: a month ago, a renter called about dirty dishes and smudges on the carpet in one of the condos we rented out. This was not the first time this renter has called; there had been calls before, and not infrequently, regarding similar, even smaller, matters. But my boss simply repeated the old adage that “the customer is always right,” and dealt with the renters’ concerns with his usual charm and the matter resolved amicably. The result? Happy customers, happy employees.
But I was also about to learn the tougher side of the business: specifically, the so-called “business side of the business.” For example, when we were negotiating the price of the rent or prices of new furniture, the conversations became much more realistic, calculating, and uncompromising. I learned that opportunities don’t just knock on the door: You have to find it, and sometimes even negotiate with it, and be ready to let it go if it isn’t up to what you think it’s worth. In order to be competent in business and keep your head above the water, one must learn to be both generous and calculating. In other words, a crafty businessman, but also an able servant to the customers.