Friday, 2 March 2012

Continued ...

Bob and I eventually got around to visiting the Porsche production line in Stuttgart and when we found Masood’s 928S and we both nearly died on the spot. The interior was bright mint green leather and carpets not dark green as ordered. We went back to Ludwigsburg and spoke to Fred and Mellita and they could not understand the mix up. We then found out that Porsche had changed a leather colour but had used a code from several years earlier, which had caused the confusion. We all realised that this was going to be a huge problem to deal with and I actually asked them both how much it would cost to change the entire interior after the car left production. This was too expensive so we decided to stick with the Mint Green and as usual, I told everyone I would deal with this issue later when the car arrived in Bahrain.
Upon our return to Bahrain we assured Masood the car looked absolutely fantastic and he was going to be very proud driving this around Bahrain and the envy of everyone. This appealed to his vanity and we all waited for the car to arrive. Some weeks later when the ship finally arrived in Bahrain, Masood had made arrangements with the customs authorities to enter the seaport himself and he wanted me to go onto the Ro-Ro ship and drive his car off myself, as he did not want anyone else to drive it. Masood was dressed in chiffon pants to match the exterior colour of his Porsche 928S and a green silk shirt, olive green Porsche Design watch to match the interior leather!
I arranged to go onto the ship and drove his Porsche 928S into the parking area whilst Ghuloom our “Mr Fix It” arranged to clear the car through customs.
When Masood saw the car he loved it even though it was covered in wax, protective plastic film and polystyrene protection. However as soon as he looked inside he said the interior green was totally the wrong colour. It was a typical very warm and sunny day and I told him it just looked lighter green as it is in the sunlight. He then became very anxious and I knew we had a major selling job to do to get him to accept the car. I suggested that he let us clear customs and get the car to our workshop for it’s pre-delivery clean and inspection and that I would call him to come down to see the car when it was ready later that afternoon. 
When the car was finally ready for collection later that afternoon, it looked extremely loud inside but also fabulous in its own way, as virtually everything was Mint Green leather including the roof panels, steering wheel, dashboard and it had matching mint green carpets. Porsche AG would not cover the instrument binnacle in leather in those days due to its shape so this was black plastic.
Masood duly arrived and I had briefed everyone in the office to tell him what a beautiful car he had, especially our Scottish secretary Irene Waddell, who I knew Masood liked a lot. The day ended up with Masood saying he could not accept the car, as the interior leather colour was wrong. I sat with him and convinced him to take delivery and ownership of his Porsche 928S and that if he really did not like it after a few days, I would take another order off him for a 930 turbo and we would buy the 928S back off him in part exchange when the 930 turbo arrived. He agreed to this and then I set about making sure he would keep the car.
Masood was a confirmed bachelor and he was always going out with a variety of Gulf Air flight attendants who were all based in Bahrain. I knew a senior member of the cabin crew management, Mary, who also knew Masood very well, so I called her up and asked her for a favour. Masood had a special parking area created for his Porsche outside of his business premises (he also had his garage walls lined with foam rubber to protect the large doors against chips and scratches). I had arranged with Mary to get a few really stunning looking British girls to walk past Middle East Traders, Masood’s business, one afternoon and all hover and look over his Porsche car for as long as possible. Well my strategy worked as Masood was soon out of his office chatting to the girls who had all been briefed to say what a lovely car to him, ask him for a ride in it. Masood being Masood, took all this in and called me up sometime later in the week and said, “The car is definitely growing on me and in fact I have had a number of people commenting how beautiful it looked so I’m considering keeping it.” Well sure enough as time went on he did not want to part with it.
I remember he invited us to his family’s beach house one weekend evening for a bar-be-cue and he had invited a number of girls and family friends. Amongst these was Sheikh Isa bin Muburak Al Khalifa who was famous for his horse racing and gambling in the United Kingdom. Sheikh Isa either had a lot of money or owed a lot. I had met him previously through another of his cousins Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa (Abdullah from Project & Properties).
That evening at the beach house Sheikh Isa and Masood were in heated but controlled conversation, which I could see was getting a little embarrassing for Masood and they both came over to join me. Sheikh Isa had apparently given Masood a signed blank cheque, which he was holding in his hand, to fill in the amount in exchange for Masood’s Porsche 928S, which he had seen outside and fell in love with. Masood was beside himself and asked me to help him out of his predicament and he did not wish to sell his car. I convinced Sheikh Isa that we meet up in his office first thing next week and we could discuss providing him with another custom built Porsche 928S. Masood was grateful and I reminded him of the day his car had arrived and the fact that he did not want it, only to be fighting to keep it a few months later, to which he just smiled.
From that moment on I realised that we could offer something to the Bahrainis that no other car importer could and that was a personalised and custom service supported by Porsche factory warranty. This became the bedrock for our sales and marketing strategy and despite the trials and tribulations of Masood’s order and the time we had invested, was well worth it.

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