Business English / Деловой английский язык
Seizing an opportunity
Ramon still hasn't decided what to do. The marketing consultants have advised him to think bigger, and Mrs Sombat of Songthai Enterprises has proposed that she should become his agent. But Ramon has to think about his company's long-term future in South-East Asia and this may mean setting up a manufacturing base in Thailand.
|Coach driver||on a trip to Pattaya. He is Thai.|
|Secretary||at Songthai Enterprises. She is Thai.|
|Skills||Telephoning - a bad line; reasoning with somebody; bidding and negotiating.|
|Structures||Putting an argument; interested and interesting; participles; the past perfect tense.|
|Documents||A company annual report; a letter of thanks; an informal letter.|
Taking a trip out of town
13.1 Listen and read
Ramon still has to make a decision about production, as well as marketing and distribution. He is about to leave the hotel when Fred arrives. Listen to how Ramon builds up a list of reasons for doing what he wants to do.
|FRED||Hi, Ramon! Buenos días! So, how are things, how's business?|
|RAMON||Oh, hello, Fred. Well, I've had some interesting meetings with various people - learned quite a lot about local conditions.|
|FRED||Uh-huh. Why don't you take some time off?We could go rent a car, go out of town for the day. I'd like to go to the beach at Pattaya.|
|RAMON||I was thinking of doing just that - but if you're going to Pattaya, you can take a tourist bus. They sell tickets at the hotel reception desk.|
|FRED||Ramon, you don't want to ride on a bus with a lot of tourists.|
|RAMON||OK, please yourself. You go and rent a car. You do realise that it'll cost you about five times as much, and, of course, you'll be responsible for the car - and for parking it. I'll take the coach, and I'll see much more, because I'll be sitting high up instead of down near the road.|
13.2 Structure practice: putting an argument
If you know you are going to have to persuade someone, it helps to have a few good arguments ready to use. But you also need to link them together, to make them stronger. Listen again to how Ramon links his arguments in 13.1.
You are going on holiday with a friend. Your friend wants to take a lot of cash; you want to take traveller's cheques. Write the arguments you would use to persuade your friend to take traveller's cheques. Use the information below, and remember to link the arguments together.
|a||You can change traveller's cheques into any currency.|
|b||If you lose them, or if they are stolen, you can get them replaced.|
|c||You need your passport for identification, so only you can use them.|
|d||You don't need to take your cheque book and cheque card with you.|
13.3 Listen and read
Ramon and Fred agree to take a coach trip to Pattaya. Listen to what they say. Why do you think Ramon is interested in the deserted factory?
|Now, ladies and gentlemen, if you look over to your left-hand side you can see Muang Boran, the Ancient City. That is a big model of the whole of Thailand with many old buildings, palaces, temples, half as big as the real ones. It was built by a Thai businessman, and cost ten million baht.|
|FRED||Look at that! Amazing! Hey, Ramon, it's on the other side. On the left.|
|RAMON||What? I'm sorry - I was interested in that factory over there - I thought I recognised the logo.|
|DRIVER||We stop here for twenty minutes! So you can take photographs, buy souvenirs, eat, drink.|
|FRED||What did I tell you! You take a tourist bus, they take you for a ride. No thank you, I do not want any ice cream; I do not want any fried rice; I do not require a woodcarving of an elephant. Can we get out of this place?|
|RAMON||Yes, let's just walk over to the other side of the road. Just as I thought - this is, or was, one of Songthai's factories. They must have built it out of town to keep the costs down.|
|FRED||You're sure it wasn't located here as a tourist attraction?|
|RAMON||Doesn't seem to have attracted anything much. It's certainly been empty for quite a while.Interesting! Well, come on, we'd better not miss the coach.|
13.4 Structure practice: interested and interesting
Ramon says 'I was interested in that factory over there', and later 'Interesting!' ('That is interesting'). You must be careful not to confuse the two forms ending in '-ing' and '-ed'. It is helpful to think of the '-ing' form as 'active', and the '-ed' form as 'passive'. For example, if something interests you, then that something is 'interesting', and you are 'interested'. Practise using both '-ing' and '-ed' forms by answering these questions. The first one has been done for you.
|1||Does Thai culture interest you?
|2||Does the prospect of a takeover bid excite you?
|3||Or does it alarm you?
|4||Do the Dolphin Commando TV programmes amuse you?
|5||Do the company's interim results disappoint you?
|6||Does travelling by bus bore you?
13.5 Document study
Ramon goes to the Bangkok Business Library, and finds a complete series of Songthai Enterprises' annual reports, in English and Thai, going back to 1953, the year the company was founded. He starts with the most recent one, and works back year by year until he finds what he is looking for. Why is he interested?
13.6 Structure practice: participles
The annual report in 13.5 says 'Carefully chosen for its proximity ..., Muang Boran will meet our production requirements'. This means that Muang Boran was carefully chosen, and that Muang Boran will meet the production requirements. When you write sentences like this, you must make sure that the 'subject' of both parts is the same. In 13.5 we could have written, 'Starting with the most recent one, he works back ...', because it was Ramon who started, and Ramon who is working back. Read through the four sentences below carefully. Which ones are not right? Why?
|1||After spending several hours in the library, Ramon found what he wanted.
|2||After reading the article, Songthai may be able to sell the factory to Ramon.
|3||By locating the factory outside the town, Ramon may be able to buy it cheaply.
|4||By locating the factory outside the town, Songthai saved on labour costs.
13.7 Writing practice
Chasing up your enquiries
13.8 Listen and read
Ramon telephones Supa to ask her about Songthai Enterprises. Listen to what they say. It is a poor telephone line. Notice how Supa has to ask Ramon to repeat things.
|SUPA||Good morning, Ramon! How are things?|
|RAMON||Good morning! Things are not so bad. In fact, I've got an idea I might be getting somewhere at last.|
|SUPA||I'm sorry? I didn't quite catch that.|
|RAMON||I said, I think I'm making progress at last. I may need to come and see you again very soon - but first of all, does the name Songthai mean anything to you?|
|SUPA||You mean Songthai Enterprises? Yes. The founder died a few years ago, but his widow is keeping up the business, and it continues to grow.|
|RAMON||Mm. I met Mrs Sombat a day or two ago, and I must say I was rather impressed. I wondered how you rated the organisation.|
|SUPA||I beg your pardon? This must be a bad line.Could you repeat that?|
|RAMON||I wonder how you rate the Songthai organisation? What's your professional opinion of it?|
|SUPA||We rate it highly. Well, it depends on what you are trying to do. It's well run - well equipped. I'm told morale is high. If you're thinking of buying shares in it, I can only say that financially it has been through rather a difficult time. Mr Sombat left many debts when he died. He had borrowed heavily to finance the growth of his company. I believe these debts are mostly paid off now. Mrs Sombat managed to turn the company round , but it's still under-capitalised.|
13.9 Speaking practice: a bad telephone line
Listen to this conversation. Then listen again and speak the parts, first of the man and then of the woman.
|WOMAN||I'm just playing a hunch.Is there a business library anywhere in town?|
|MAN||I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that. Could you repeat it, please?|
|WOMAN||Sorry - I'm looking for the business library. I think they may be able to help me.|
|MAN||Oh, the business library! It's in New Road, near the post office.|
|WOMAN||It's a dreadful line, this - do you mind saying that again?|
|MAN||New Road, near the post office. What are you hoping to find in the business library?|
|WOMAN||I'm interested in some annual reports.|
|MAN||I beg your pardon? I can hardly hear a word you say!|
|WOMAN||Look, I'll hang upand call you again - maybe we'll get a better connection.|
13.10 Structure practice: the past perfect tense
Supa says to Ramon 'Mr Sombat left many debts when he died. He had borrowed heavily ...' She uses the simple past 'left' to show that she is talking about a particular time in the past, and then the past perfect 'had borrowed' to show that something else happened before that time.
Here are some pairs of sentences, describing two separate events. Make each pair into a single sentence, using the past perfect.
|1||Mrs Sombat heard about Dolphin Commando. She invited Ramon to dinner.
|2||Ramon spent five hours in the library. He found what he wanted.
|3||He returned to the hotel. He telephoned Madrid.
|4||He left his briefcase in a taxi. He realised this when he got back to the hotel.
13.11 Document study: writing a letter of thanks
Ramon writes to Mrs Sombat to thank her for the dinner. He decides to ask her for another meeting. Read the letter below.
returning your hospitality asking you to be my guest, after I have been your guest
call on you visit you.
13.12 Listen and read
Ramon telephones Mrs Sombat's house the next day. Listen to how he makes an appointment to see her, and sends a message via her secretary.
|SECRETARY||Ah, Mr Figueras. Mrs Sombat has gone out but she told me that you might ring and she asked me to give you a message: she will be very pleased to see you in her office any time this afternoon between two and four thirty.|
|RAMON||Two to four thirty this afternoon - right. Will you be seeing her before then?|
|SECRETARY||No, but I shall probably speak to her on the telephone. Can I give her a message?|
|RAMON||Could you say that I will call at about three o'clock?|
|SECRETARY||Three o'clock, certainly. You have the address of the office?|
|RAMON||Yes, thanks - she gave me her card. Thank you for your help. Goodbye.|
13.13 Writing practice: making notes
Ramon now has to decide what he wants to do. Read through the notes you made for him in lessons 11, 12 and 13. Make a list of options for him. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
Being in the right place at the right time
13.14 Listen and read
Ramon goes to see Mrs Sombat in her office. Listen to what they say. Notice how they each begin by stating their positions.
|MRS SOMBAT||Let me see if I've got this right. You say you can't accept an agency agreement on the lines I've drafted because it doesn't address the real problems you're faced with- which are production and development problems.|
|RAMON||Broadly speaking, yes.|
|MRS SOMBAT||Which implies that Songthai Enterprises has nothing to offer except warehousing and distribution.|
|RAMON||On the contrary, I think Songthai has a lot to offer. I have a counter-proposal...|
|MRS SOMBAT||Just a moment, please! [To intercom] Arineeka, ask Mr Hagendahl to come in, will you?|
13.15 Listen and read
Ramon is surprised to find Fred at the meeting, but he makes his offer to Mrs Sombat. Listen to what they say. What is Ramon's counter-proposal? Notice how Mrs Sombat very carefully considers both of her options before she makes a decision.
|MRS SOMBAT||Hello, Mr Hagendahl! Come back in and sit down.|
|FRED||Thank you. Hello, Ramon.|
|RAMON||Fred! I didn't know you knew Mrs Sombat!|
|FRED||Why should I tell you everything? You're supposed to be on a fact-finding mission. It seems that I'm one of the facts.|
|MRS SOMBAT||Please, don't be upset, Mr Figueras! The reason I've asked you both in here together is that you seem to be bidding for the same thing.|
|FRED||But any deal we make must be exclusive.|
|RAMON||Mrs Sombat, I'm now in a position to make you an offer. When I came to Bangkok, I was thinking in terms of a distributor or perhaps an agent for Tortuga. What I've learnt here has made me aim higher. I'm going to commission a feasibility study, and, if the results are favourable, as I'm confident they will be, I intend to set up a manufacturing base in Thailand.|
|FRED||Ah! You have been doing your homework!|
|RAMON||My company has no experience of the Far East, so we shall need a Thai partner. Will Songthai Enterprises consider a joint venture with Tortuga?|
|MRS SOMBAT||Well, well - we all seem to be putting our cards on the table now, don't we?I must say, I'm faced with rather a difficult choice here. Most people would say that Tumblehome have more to offer - simply as major retailers. On the other hand, Tortuga has a good reputation and a valuable TV merchandising agreement - and I like the idea of getting involved on the manufacturing side.|
13.16 Speaking practice: bidding for a contract
Listen to this conversation. Then listen again and speak the part of the man.
|WOMAN||Let me see if I've got this right. You say you won't consider our offer.|
|MAN||We couldn't accept an agreement on the lines you drafted. It doesn't address our real problems.|
|WOMAN||That seems to imply that we've nothing more to offer.|
|MAN||On the contrary. I should like to make a counter-proposal which I'm sure you'll find attractive.|
|WOMAN||Well, any deal must be exclusive.|
|MAN||Of course! And I'm now in a position to make you an offer on the basis of a joint venture as manufacturer and distributor.|
|WOMAN||Hm. I must admit I like the idea of getting involved on the manufacturing side.|
13.17 Listen and read
Mrs Sombat has told Ramon and Fred what her decision is. Listen to what they say. Who will she work with? Why are Ramon and Fred both taken by surprise?
|FRED||Well, good luck, Ramon. You're going to need it!|
|RAMON||Thanks. I hope you get something sorted out.|
|FRED||Oh, we'll find an agent, no problem. As a matter of fact, I'm flying to Jakarta tomorrow.|
|RAMON||It still seems like a coincidence, both of us wanting to work with Songthai.|
|MRS SOMBAT||It's no coincidence at all. I spoke to Jack Lytton. He told me you were both coming out here, so ...|
13.18 Listening practice: some idioms
When Ramon, Fred and Mrs Sombat speak to each other, they use many idiomatic expressions. Listen to their conversations in this lesson again, and then answer the questions below, using expressions from their conversations.
|1||When the coach stops at Muang Boran, what does Fred complain of?
|2||When Ramon telephones Supa, why does he sound rather pleased?
|3||Why does Fred think that he needn't explain everything to Ramon?
|4||How does Mrs Sombat react when Ramon reveals his new business proposal?
|5||Why does Mrs Sombat seem more likely to reach agreement with Tortuga than with Tumblehome?
13.19 Writing practice: a message to Jack Lytton
Ramon is pleased to have got a contract with Mrs Sombat. He decides to write to Jack Lytton and tell him all about it. Write the letter for him, using the notes you have made, and any other details you think might help. Jack is a friend, so the letter does not need to be too formal. The beginning of the letter is shown below.