Chapter 36: Chiu Wan-Ting
Chen Jin went straight to the city center the next morning. Since he'd decided to start a jewelry store, he needed to rent a place and renovate it tastefully as a fine jewelry store.
But what area would be best for my store? An economically active, well-developed area with lots of crowds, of course. Perhaps the ground level of a large shopping mall, or the best spot on a bustling commercial street. Anyway, it has to be a place where the population is densest, so I can make the most profit.
Chen Jin knew he needed to target areas like that. However, he didn't plan on renting a store in a shopping mall, as places like that were usually very complex, and there wasn't much privacy; plus, the size of the stores there weren't big, so it wouldn't be easy to do much renovation.
He preferred to rent an entire commercial building with at least 10,000 sq ft in size that had three or four floors. He wanted a massive jewelry store that could provide customers with the best products. It wouldn't be too difficult to find a commercial building like that. They were everywhere, but the rent was extremely high, especially the ones in the city center; the average rent for 10 sq ft per day would be $5. For a place as big as 10,000 sq ft, the annual rent would be $44k - $60k. It could even go up to $75k for a busier area.
Chen Jin was speechless. "No wonder everyone on the internet said starting a jewelry store is no easy task. Who can actually make money in this business with the ridiculous rent?"
Running a store, the owner would need to put in an unbelievable amount of thought and effort regarding the rent, the payment for employees, taxes, cleaning fees, management fees, etc. Everything costs money. Even if it was a gold store, the crazy high rent would still eat you alive.
Chen Jin found a three-story building with a size of 10,000 sq ft on No. 188, Jin Ling West Road. It used to be a jewelry store too, but they closed it due to the constantly increasing rent; the business simply was not making enough money to pay for it.
Intending to rent the building, Chen Jin gave the owner a call. The owner was a man who had gotten a bit of a middle-aged spread and a beer belly. People called him "Mr. Lee."
"Mr. Lee, how much do you charge to rent this three-floor commercial building for a year?"
"You want to rent this place?" he asked Chen Jin with a suspicious look. How is he going to get the money to rent my building at such a young age?
"Yes, but I would like to get to know the rent situation first." Chen Jin nodded.
"$815k for a year, $1.5 million for two years. Minimum lease is one year, and you would have to pay me half the rent as a deposit if you're renting for a year. Do you have that kind of money?" He looked at Chen Jin in a sarcastic way. It's easily a $150k kind of deal. You're just a boy; there's no way you have the money.
"Can you do a better price? $150k is a bit too much for me…" Chen Jin frowned a little over this. The owner's round beer belly and his greasy hair made him even nastier.
He rejected Chen Jin with a wave of his arm. "It's a set price, take it or leave it. I will not give any discount." He stood up from his chair, making his way to the door.
"How about $2 million for three years, but you can't increase the rent before my lease is up. If you agree, we can sign the contract right away." Chen Jin stopped him.
The middle-aged man hesitated. He thought about it for a moment and said, "I'll do it for $2.2 million, but you will have to pay me $745k first! If you're ok with that, we will move on to the papers."
It was just $200k more than what he'd offered; Chen Jin didn't want to argue with him anymore so he agreed. However, just as they were signing the contract, Chen Jin added one more agreement to it because he was worried this sneaky old man would do something dirty in the future. "If the landlord does not comply, and raises the rent during the lease, he will return the deposit to the tenant along with a $7.5 million compensation."
"$7.5 million! No way! I can give you back the deposit, that's it. I don't agree with this one." His face turned red with anger, refusing to accept the new agreement.
"I don't trust you. You either accept it or we cancel the deal." Chen Jin was not giving in on this.
"You…" Mr. Lee scowled at him defiantly.
"There are plenty of available commercial buildings these days anyway. I can easily find another one."
"Fine, let's get this over with." He was obviously not pleased with the new contract. Not being able to increase rent was frustrating, but $2.2 million for three years was a great deal; it was 50% higher than what the previous tenant paid for. It was rare to find someone as generous as Chen Jin who could afford such rent. Besides, the building had been idle for three months; potential tenants immediately lost interest the second they found out about the price. If he declined this deal, he'd really have to decrease the rent.
Chen Jin then got the key from his landlord after signing the contract and transferring $745 million.
Now, he'd finally gotten the access and the legal right of use for the commercial building on No. 188, Jin Ling West Road. Which also meant he would need to find someone to take care of the renovation of the building and, of course, someone to run and manage the store.
Chen Jin himself would not have the time to deal with it all, for sure, so he had to hire professionals to help him. As a result, he paid a headhunter company $7,500 to find him someone suitable for the job. They found a middle-aged woman for him within three days. Her name was Chiu Wan Ting. She was 43, married, and had over 20 years of experience in the jewelry industry. Having been a store manager for more than 10 years showed that she had the knowledge required to manage a jewelry store and would definitely qualify as a "senior" supervisor.
What was even better was that it was right here in this commercial building that she worked as a manager at Liu Fu Jewelry Store for six years before they closed it. She knew the place like the back of her hand. Having no luck for a new job, she had been unemployed for months since the lay-off.
"She's the one! No one will be more suitable than she is!" Just like that, she'd become the best candidate for the job, even though Chen Jin hadn't even got to meet her in person. He had to get her to work for his store one way or another.
From the contact information the headhunter company provided, Chen Jin gave Chiu Wan Ting a call and arranged an interview at a local coffee shop.
Chen Jin was even more satisfied after meeting her in person. She had apparently prepared herself for the interview, wearing the appropriate amount of makeup and putting her hair in a bun. For her outfit, she had a black blazer for the top and a pencil skirt for the bottom with her long legs in nude pantyhose; her appearance was just average, yet her nobility, intellectuality, and elegance made her a sophisticated woman.
A charming, middle-aged lady…Chen Jin concluded.
In addition, her experience in the workplace allowed her to present herself in a confident manner. She even had a great sense of humor, making Chen Jin laugh his head off with her hilarious comments. He was very happy with her, in every way possible.
But Chiu Wan Ting was in fact even more surprised with her young boss. He can't be much older than my son is, how does he have millions of dollars for an investment like this? The only thing my son is good at is playing video games all day long; God knows if he will ever do anything meaningful after graduation.
There was nothing she could do about it; she couldn't hit him or scold him. Sometimes she'd even get angry tears! Compared to the young boss, they were vastly different.
Chen Jin asked, "So, Auntie Chiu, there are two options regarding your payment. One, you get $9,000 a month, along with insurance and bonus; however, the percentage of the commission would be very little and it completely depends on your performance. Two, you get $4,500 a month along with insurance and bonus as well, and 1% commission, but it still depends on the profits our store makes. What would you prefer, Auntie Chiu?"
"I'll go with the first one!" Chiu Wan Ting told him without any hesitation. No business did well these days due to the increasing rent, including the jewelry industry; the net income wouldn't be more than 10% even if the sales revenue was more than $15 million. Moreover, with all the expenses like rent, taxes, and bills deducted, and the boss's share of profits, what was really given to the employees was very little. It might be hard to believe, but at her previous job, she would get her minimum wage and the commissions from her sales, but her average salary per month was less than $2,200, sometimes even $1,200…and she was the manager of the store!
So, of course, she'd go for the option with higher monthly pay without even thinking about it. As a senior employee, however, she had initially wanted to talk him out of going into this business. Not only would he not make much money, but he might lose all the money he'd invested in too! But seeing this young boss with great vision and initiative, she changed her mind and bit her tongue. She was, after all, just an employee.
"Alright, Auntie Chiu, let's make it your first day. Here's the key. I'll transfer $150k to your account. Please hire a team to renovate this place and get it done within two weeks. Money is no problem."
"A hundr… a hundred and fifty thousand dollars?" It left Chiu Wan Ting speechless. She had just started working for him and he was already comfortable letting her handle $150k?
"Yeah. Is there a problem?"
"Then we'll stick with my plan. Hopefully, we'll have a grand opening at the end of the month!"
"Got it. I'm on it." She nodded.
Chen Jin nodded too. He added her to WeChat to stay in touch, and transferred $150k to her bank account, putting her in charge of all of the renovation work.