Want to lose money in Thailand? Read on.
You know the dream, you go to an exotic location on holiday and fall in love with a beautiful girl, the people or just the vibe. Back home in the grey weather of a dreary afternoon thoughts hanker back to that location where dreams come true.
The realities of living in a country and staying for a couple of weeks are very different. I am not one to discourage people, but there are pitfalls and they should be avoided, unless you actually do want to lose money in Thailand.
For one thing, when you are on holiday you have saved up possibly all year for those two weeks. Your spending patterns are therefore not remotely resembling what it would be like if you lived there. So don’t base your future plans on the experiences you had in those two heady weeks. So many guys come to Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia and suddenly find themselves the centre of attraction. Partying every night accompanied by some of the most beautiful women in the world is a heady mix. But remove the holiday pay and things start to look a little different.
Probably the most popular business that guys move into in Thailand if they come out without a job, after teaching English, is bar ownership. Anyone can own and run a bar, right? Wrong! It is damned hard work and if you get things even slightly wrong, can be a disaster. More people lose money in Thailand through this than possible any other reason. That tiny bar up a tiny side street looks good when you are in with 4 or 5 mates spending money like water. Take your own custom out and the takings don’t look quite so inviting.
How Not to Lose Money in Thailand
A bar is like most other retail businesses. The first thing to watch out for is always location, location, location. This might sound obvious, but the hidden away bars that are successful are normally the ones that have been running for years. They have built up a steady stream of locals who like the place. Thailand used to be different. It is now far more competitive than it used to be. These sort of places can lose you money hand over fist until it runs out. Soon you are back on a plane, taking your shattered dreams with you.
The local girls in Thailand who frequent the bars are experts at getting guys to part with money. It is how they make a living and they are great at it. That doesn’t matter whether the farang is a customer or the boss. You will be targeted by a percentage of your staff. Don’t get me wrong, when I owned bars in Bangkok, I had some of the most amazingly loyal staff. I had a couple of cashiers in particular that I would have trusted with everything. However, I also had some serious criminals and it’s not always easy to tell them apart. It takes time and the best approach is slowly, slowly.
You will have to pay “tea money”. This is a given. If you want to remain in business expect to pay the police. Whilst some are good, others are not. SO again, it’s just a case of playing along and seeing what develops. The best way to get into the bar game is to move to Thailand, if you can afford it, and stay for about 6 months, before spending your money. Get to know the lie of the land. Visit any potential bar that you are thinking of buying and become an irregular customer. Drop in on different days at different times to see what the foot flow is really like. If you arrange to visit at a certain time, you can be sure that it will be “busy”.
An almost hidden cost that vendors never mention will be the number of days business that you will lose due to holidays. Be it a Royal birthday, an important Buddha Day or anything else. There are many days that you will not be able to sell alcohol or will be forced to close early on sometimes not even allowed to open. These are unavoidable, culturally accepted and just a fact of life. Losing a Saturday in peak season can be a killer.
The Dangers of Partnerships
Choose any partners with the greatest of care. And be warned it is not always the locals that turn out to be untrustworthy. Really good friends act differently when money is involved. My advice to anyone would always be, go it alone. If you are lucky enough to find a really good woman, even better. Living in Thailand is a better experience all round if you have a Thai partner.You’ll get better deals in shops, they will help you through the minefield of even the simplest of jobs. Merely getting the internet connected in a new bar can be a nightmare.
Another pitfall that you may find yourself becoming an innocent victim of, is the unpaid bill fiasco. This is one way to lose money in Thailand if you are not prepared. If the previous tenant has not paid utility or service bills, you will find yourself getting billed for them. This is common practice. No amount of pleading innocence will do you any good. Having a Thai partner should ensure that you can check all these in advance.
So there you have it, hope this helps you not to lose money in Thailand. I would still encourage people to come. It’s a fabulous country and a wonderful place in which to start your new life.