Sunday, December 29, 2013

Coin collecting - the pain and the pleasure...

Coin collecting - the pain and the pleasure...

My liking is for collecting coins from circulation.

I buy my newspaper/s against daily cash payment, just so see what
coins I get.

However on most days I prefer to give change to the newspaperwallah, empathising
with him, knowing how difficult it is to get change. However he manages to give change every time.

Today I had Rs. 3 in coins and was about to give it to him, but however changed my mind and gave him a ten rupee note instead, thinking I would part with the coins if he so wishes.

Well, I got a 2 rupee coin and a 5 rupee 2010 Asian Games coin (in battered condition).

Getting a commemorative coin is once in a blue moon. Maybe once in a month or two.

No pains, no gains! But pain for whom?!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Adey! Enna Engae nee kooti pora?

Hey man! Where are you leading me to?

The man: Sid Sriram from where else? From the States.

He puts his heart into the soul of the song.

And to know what I mean or rather what is meant by the soul of a song,
it is not really necessary that one should know tamil (b'cos music has no language!).

Step one:

Listen to a young talented singer Aravind singing the song Adiye from the movie Kadal in the Super Singer contest:

(Towards the end you can see Malgudi Subha explaining the soul part of the song...

Step two:

Now listen to the orginal singer (one wonders how A.R. Rahman zeroed to Sid) Sid Sriram singing the very same song in a guest appearance in the same Super Singer contest a few days back:

Well, you got it! No explanations are needed!!

Any guesses what one would like after listening to the above two?

Yes, of course. Sid singing in the company of none other than Stephan Devassy.
What else!

May their tribe increase...

Friday, December 27, 2013

ISO and all that...

ISO and all that....

Why go for ISO certification and frame the certificate and hang it?

All we have to do is have an ISO attitude.

Yes, ISO.  In Search of Orderliness.

We used to go to a scan centre for our annual medical check-up. The place is spic and span. The staff are courteous. They give a check list with us so that we are sure that all the necessary tests have gone through. Very good indeed.

This year we went to another branch of the same scan centre which is closer to our house. Well, the place is spic and span.

But, what about the other things. The staff were quarreling with some customer, fighting between themselves....  They didn't give any check list. Their feed-back box was in place. However it was full of feedback slips! Nobody had cared to look into them. I can go on. These are of course small things....

In life, if we take care of the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves. Yes, figuratively!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Well educated and well mannered...

Well educated and well mannered...

Some are under the impression that an ill-mannered person is ill-educated and vice versa. Nothing can be farther from the truth than this.

But then very rarely we do come across well educated persons are are also well mannered.

We happened to come across one such person today.

This elderly gentleman lives in a house behind ours. In their backyard they have
a drumstick tree which is infested with hairy caterpillars (kambili poochi). These often invade our apartments in the hundreds and cause inconvenience to us.

A few days back I went to his house to request that the tree may be removed. They were away and only the house staff were there, who asked me repeatedly what I wanted. I told them of the issue on hand. They promised me to inform their master.

Today morning as we were driving down we saw him standing in front of his house.
I slowed down my car and when I was about to get down, he says smilingly, "Don't worry, we shall remove the tree. I could not get the men immediately".

What can I say? We have never met. But he might have seen me in my terrace from his house. He understood why I was slowing down and without troubling me too much he comforts me.

Can anyone among you give me one such incident in your recent past?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Don't just give an ad...

In business or otherwise, don't release an ad if you are not serious about it.

You release an ad to do business and you must be ready to grab any opportunity
that arises out of the ad.

I wanted to let out an apartment on rent and released an ad. An elderly person spoke
and he wanted to know how to reach the place. I asked him the nearby landmark he knew.
Then I offered to pick him up from that place to ease the situation.

I rang up a person who had advertised for selling an apartment. The day he had released the
ad, he says the place is locked and his supervisor is somewhere else. I advised him that when
he had released an ad, he has done that expecting some customers. Is it not his duty to be there
or ask someone to be there from 9 am to 6 pm to receive any customer?

After all in this case all he needed was just one conversion to sell that one apartment!

Alas! Is this not a waste of effort?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Remembering exemplary Service

Yesterday I went to Murugan Kalyana Mandapam (Murugan Marriage Hall) to attend a
wedding of a relative.

My memory went back a few years. In 2007, I had fixed this hall to celebrate my daughter's

Due to certain circumstances, the wedding date has to be postponed. The hall was already
booked for the date which we wanted.

We had to search for another hall. I had already paid a hefty amount to Murugan Kalyana

I requested for a refund explaining the circumstances. They replied that if someone else wanted
the hall on the date, they would refund my money. They also promised to phone me on this.

Without any further follow-up from my side (I was too busy searching another hall), within a few
days they rang me up to inform me that their hall was booked and that I could collect my money
any time.

They returned my money in full. Also, learning that I was in the air-conditioning field, they placed
an order with me to fix a new split air-conditioner in their office room and paid for it.

Trying to find another service provider like them would be like searching a needle in a haystack.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Do I carry grudges?

Do I carry grudes?

No, I don't. Never.

At the same time I do not like somebody (more so a customer) to carry grudges against
me for any misunderstanding or  an unknown reason (to the customer, not me).

A special discount is given to a certain category of customers. The apparent saving is around
30% in one model and only around 20% in another model which also he is going in for.

In reality I could at the most  make a 1% margin in both the items. I do not wish the customer to carry a
grudge against me that I have made a profit of around 10% or more!

This customer will be better avoided by me.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Collecting coins - doesn't know ABC

I went to my newspaperwallah to buy the day's newspapers.

Two drunks came to the shop. One guy gives a ten rupee note and asks
for two packets of water. He takes back his change and as he is about to
walk away the other guy asks him: What about me?

The guy just walks away ignoring and then the second guy gives the shopkeeper a ten rupee coin and asks for two packets of water.

Well the story does not end here.

The guy tells the shopkeeper to keep the ten rupee coin with him safely and he would come back after sometime and take back the coin giving him a note.
The shopkeeper refuses and tells him that he cannot hold back change which
is badly required.

I then asked the guy a few questions about ten rupee coins and he blinked.
He says: I just collect coins.  I have lot of ten rupee coins!

I questioned him about ten rupee plus coin. He again blinks.

Well, no use. Some people just collect coins. Let us leave it at that.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

How can 1/4 Kg. of beans be Rs.15 for me and Rs.10 for the next person?

Yesterday, I went to my usual haunt to buy vegetables.

The vegetable vendor Paramasivam does his business with alacrity. He is energetic, enthusiastic, quick and above all his ability in addition is amazing. People do adore him and nobody minds a rupee or two this way or that.

I bought my share of vegetables and he charged me Rs.15 for 1/4 Kg.
By and by the day's arrival of vegetables including beans were added.

I could have asked for a replacement of my share with fresh stock which
he would have done without batting an eyebrow. But I chose not to.

Somebody pounced on the fresh stock of beans asking him what the price was.
He replied: Drumstick prices are the most today. Rs.10 apiece. Beans at 40 Rs. a kg.

I kept quiet. My theory and logic only works!! Yesterday the price could have been Rs.60 which has come down to Rs.40 today....... Anyways I bought yesterday's stock.....If I were in his shoes......

How can 2 x 23 become 47?

I bought two cakes of my favourite brand of toilet soap and the cashier
took Rs.47 from me.

After reaching home, I just wondered how a cake of toilet soap could
cost Rs. 23.50.

I inspected one cake and saw the MRP as 23. I was only becoming more

I took the other cake and found the MRP as 24. One was made in June
and the other in September!!

That is inflation for you....and me too!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shining piece of metal !

A few days back I went to the BSNL office to pay my telephone bill.

The cashier had about twenty coins on her table (to be given to customers as balance) and
I could see one shining piece of metal among those coins. Very bright and giving a come-hither
get me look.

I pointed that coin to her after giving my cheque and asked her if it was a five rupee coin.
She took it in her hand and said "Yes."

Since I always carry a few coins with me, I took out a five rupee coin and told her if she could
give me that coin.

Immediately she retorted: Do you collect coins. Is this a rare coin?  She was reluctant to part with it.

I told her: No, mam. It is just an ordinary coin like this one. Only it is a bit shiny.

She gave me that coin: An almost uncirculated five rupee coin of Moscow mint of year 1999.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


I happened to view the wall posting of Mr. Rointon Andhyarujina about Mule coins.

His post ends as follows:

"So mules are mismatches done by the asst mint master with old dies mostly to complete an order or whatever. Errors are the real minting mistakes.

It will be well worth your while to bear this in mind as also India being the only country to have a whole lot of mules far from than US and UK combined and also a few more countries thrown in. As far as I am concerned my commentary of mules is over."

Yes, Sir. Well said. I fully agree with you. What else is a mule but a mismatch?

He has also elaborated that the BI coins would be having any number of mules.

Why go after the mules? Let us be content with going after the thoroughbred horses.

Beginners would be well advised to study well the coins that they have and that come into their hands and try to understand and be able to recognize a mule or die variety coin and collect it rather than paying a few hundreds or few thousands to "buy" a mule.

One should bear in mind that in India many of these Mules and varieties are suspect.

Would I like to buy a Mule coin? Not sure, Sir!  Not sure.

But the day I get a mule coin in circulation and I am able to recognize it, then that coin would be worth more than a lakh of rupees to me. But the chances of my getting a coin like that is one in a million! Why should I bother about it?

Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

M.B.A. (Most Brilliant Academics!!)

Sometimes you come across these M.B.A.'s who have some ingenious ways to increase their respective business. The case of the toothpaste port opening is too well known.

I deal in items manufactured by ABC company  and a young sales executive selling the same items manufactured by XYZ company walked into my showroom. I was not in my office and since all decisions are taken with my advise they put me on to him over the phone.

I greeted him and told him that he is in the wrong place and that the company dealing in products manufactured by his company XYZ is five doors further down.
He said that he knew that but he wanted to help me and that he would go to some clients for canvassing on my behalf!

I retorted: Why do you want to help me? Please go to your dealer and help him. Business is very dull nowadays.

You see this is the game companies are upto nowadays. They have their dealers who are saddled with stocks and wondering how to sell them. They will not buy fresh stocks. So the executives go to dealers selling competition and try to push some stocks giving tall stories.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

On collecting coins

Numismatics - collecting coins.

As a young boy whenever I went to a shop and got a coin which was different from the normal ones, I used to put it away in a box.Some of my relatives who went abroad used to give a coin or two. This way I had some 200 coins and I was under the impression that I am a numismatist. Yes and no!!

About two years back, I had a friend who had retired from work. He used to work in the Madras High Court. He was a collector of coins for almost 30 years and had a lot of coins. He fell ill and wanted to sell all of his collection to meet the hospital expenses. I went to his house and he showed me his coins. I was awe-struck. He told me that if somebody gave him 5 lakhs, he would part with his collection.

With a sincere desire to help him, I approached my friend Raman Sankaran who is a numismatist and a specialist in mediveal coins. He came and saw the coins, some with a magnifier. He offered Rs.1.2 lakhs.

Subsequently when he spoke to me he described that collection as " a child's collection". He went on to explain that if you are seriously interested in collecting, then you have to pick a theme or a period. For example, Republic India coins, proof and unc sets, one coin from each country in the world, coins of Pallava kings and so on. 

Then you have to focus on that and start collecting.  Well that is for the serious collector. But I am a half-baked self styled numismatist!

I was (and still am) interested in collecting those coins which actually come into my hands as circulation coins or given by my friends.

My own focus is on Republic of India coins after 1947 and I try and collect these coins. But then, to complete or give value addition to this I would have to collect coins from every mint. (Mint-wise collection). That would be a far cry right now. I wish to collect as much as I can and pass on the collection to my grandson if he becomes interested in future.

Of course there are a few coins which I may never get. Like the International Crop Science issue or the 1996 Bose coin. Who knows?
If I have enough money I may get these too (hope I don't get cheated with fakes!!).

Tips to collect coins? I carry 10-20 coins with me at all times and if somewhere some commemorative coin is seen I would exchange it with my coin of same value. For example, there is a big vegetable super market near my house where a guy sits with lot of coins near the cashier.
I look at the lot and exchange a few coins sometimes.

Shops? There are very few shops and it is difficult to know these and also to get there, being far away. Sometimes I go there or send someone and BUY 100 coins. Say 100 nos. of 5 rupee Vaishno Devi Shrine. This is a small craze. Not collecting!

Also I have a passion for silver coins of British India period and I have a few coins from this period. But to gain knowledge in this area is arduous.

Thanks to internet. There are very good groups in Facebook where one can advance his/her knowledge on coins and even bid in the auctions to add to one's collection.

Happy collecting!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Don't know? Scratching your head may help!!!

As usual I tried jotting down my expenses for yesterday.

After writing down all the expenses, I found that there was a short of Rs.90/=

Now-a-days I hardly go out and so there is no need to open my purse often.

I gazed and gazed at the ceiling trying to recall what all I did during the course of
the day. Nothing dawned.

Then, and then, as people usually do, I scratched my head.

Ah, Ha!! Yesterday morning I stepped into my salon and had a hair-cut and paid Rs.90/=.

Sometimes scratching your head may solve your problem!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

What can Re.1/- do?

What can something worth Re.1/- do?

"Oh, nothing," you might say.

But at times something worth Re.1/- can do a lot of things, save time and money.

Yesterday I went along with my friend who had to sign a bill in a government office to
collect payment.

He took out his seal and pen and asked the clerk to give him a revenue stamp.

"The person holding the stamps is on leave" he said.

Without the stamp nothing can be done. We have to go and get a stamp from somewhere or
come again the next day.

I took out my purse and gave him a revenue stamp which I always carry for any emergency.

I was happy to see my friend looking at me with gratitude.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why talk about air-craft engine to sell air-conditioners?

Well you see to sell air-conditioners you have to talk about air-conditioners, the comfort they give and so on.

But sales guys are sales guys and they often keep on talking and telling so many things.

Carrier Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of United Technologies. And Pratt and Whitney is a part of UT and they manufacture jet engines.

So much so when Carrier first came into India we often used to mention Pratt and Whitney jet engines and that Carrier is a part of United Technologies and so on.....

A truth, but not the whole truth. But it worked in many cases!!

A quiz: What is the relationship between A and AK ??!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sometimes declining to serve is also service...!!

A customer rang me up and requested that air-conditioners in their office may be seen and offer
for maintaining them on a contract be tendered.

I went and discussed with them. I came to know that they have a number of <1 ton units which
are not in the current line of manufacture with them. It has been my experience that these machines
cannot be repaired once they go out of order.

And then they had a fairly large number of units which are all more than 7 years old. Well, these had
IMHO outlived their useful life and in the verge of being replaced in case they go out of order. Spares for
such units are not, one could even say not-at-all available.

So, I wrote to them saying that I desist from giving an offer for service. As and when they fail they could be replaced.

It used to be a joke that business means somehow getting the other man's money into our pockets. It is no longer a joke and people resort to this these days.

What is the point in my telling tall stories and collecting some money from them and later trying to wriggle out of difficult issues like non-availability of spares and so on?

Sometimes declining service is also service.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Customer Service Stories... From Nepal with Love

I go to restaurants but do not frequent them.

Two days back I went to the A2B Restaurant at Velachery. Most of the servers here are from Nepal.

The server in charge of my table approached me and said: Sir, aap kya khayenge? (Sir, what will you
like to have?)

Me: Mein paper roast khavuunga. (I wish to have a paper roast)

He: Sir, wo tho bahuth bada rahega. Aap kha nahin payenge. Ghee roast le lijiye. Paisa kyoon
waste karna? (Sir, paper roast will be pretty big. You may not be able to eat it all. I suggest you
go in for Ghee roast. Why waste money?)

I immediately realised my mistake in order and how nicely he had suggested what I should have.
How many people will take such a stance and how many more will realise that what he said is indeed true
in their case (if it is so, as in my case?).

I related this to a friend of mine who said that he went to Apoorva Sangeetha in Greams Road with his
family and his friend's family. After completing the meal, a young girl in the family was asked if she wanted
any thing else. She ordered for a family dosa. Nobody noticed this and a three foot long dosa was brought
out of which she could eat hardly 5%. The rest was taken away as parcel!!

I appreciated this guy from Nepal for his excellent service and blessed him saying one day in the future
he will have his own restaurant. Is it not such people who come up in life?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Holding the customer...and acquiring new ones

One among the most important business tactics is retention of customer and continuous service
in making him a life-long customer. Others are ready to grab a customer at the drop of a hat.

I buy milk regularly from a near-by shop and requested him to stop supply for a few days since
we were away.

Today morning I needed some milk and took it from another shop whose owner had informed
me in the past that milk would arrive at about 5 a.m. and kept in front of the shop. I could pick
up and pay later.

And this is what I exactly did today. I picked up 3 packets around 5.30 a.m (with a guilty feeling!!!)
when no-one was around.

I went at 6.30 a.m. to pay for the milk and told him that I had taken the milk earlier in the morning.

"Sir, you are one among us. Anytime you have the liberty to pick up the milk".

My usual guy who was back by then in the adjoining shop was a bit cut up. Sir, if you had told me, I would have supplied you. To which I said that we are still away and that from 1st of July you may resume supply.

It is a small business. But did you notice the attitude of the two shop keepers??

My friends in business, are you listening?!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sale is not over till....

Sale is not over till...

Yes you know that.

The age-old adage is that the sale is not over till the payment is collected in full.

A customer walked in and after discussions purchased an air-conditioner. He made the full payment in advance.

My salesman was happy that the sale has been closed. He thought that his job is over!!

I told him: No. Your sale is not over. In this case your sale is over only when you have supplied and installed the unit in customer's place and he is happy with the product.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

You may help others........but!!

Yes, you may help others, but they should deserve to be helped.

A friend of mine had a few air-conditioners unsold for quite some time. I thought
I will help him and took four air-conditioners from him.

Today I voluntarily phoned him and told him that I'll take one more air-conditioner.
Further I told him to send the fifth unit and also collect payment for one unit.

He agreed to this arrangement.

In the evening he did not send the fifth unit and asked me to pay for five units (!!)
whereas he had supplied me only four.

Well, you see, such people do not deserve to be helped!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Take only what is due to you....

I note down my daily expenses meticulously.

A few days back, I had hardly done one or two purchases and the next morning when
I jotted down my expenses, I found that I was short of Rs.500.

I raked my brains but could not figure out where I had spent a sum of Rs.500.

Two or three days later I went to the petty shop from where I buy bread regularly.

The moment she saw me, the shopkeeper immediately handed me a 500 rupee note saying
that I had handed over a 1000 rupee note and had vanished after she had given change for 500
and had herself gone to the next shop to change the 1000 rupee note!!

These days this is a very rare gesture. There is a proverb in Tamil which says: "Ainthil valayathathu
Imbathil valayuma?"  A rough translation could be that habits die hard.

I at once knew that this lady and her husband will always do only fair business. 

Needless to say, nowadays, I try to patronise that shop as much as I can.

One's hard earned money will always come back.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

You may play tricks - but never be tricky.

We were on the lookout for a good microwave oven.

We chose one in a huge showroom but did not buy it then and there.

A few days later we went to an exclusive showroom of the Brand and wanted that model number.
They didn't have it, but said they would get in a week or so later and supply after phoning us. Since we
were not in a hurry we accepted. But even after ten days there is no phone call.

Yesterday we happened to pass by another exclusive showroom of the same Brand and we walked in.
They too did not have that model but suggested another model which we were ready to take. They said
they would check up and confirmed one piece was available. We swiped the card.

Immediately, much to our chagrin, they said the piece is not there but they would source it and send it to
us the next day. I said okay.

The proper way of playing this trick would have been for them to tell us that it is not in stock but that they
would source it and supply within a day or two. Everything would have been fine.

The next day they never phoned me. When I phoned the guy said he would get back in five minutes.
Two hours later when the climate it hot and when my mood is hot, he does not pick up the phone.
When I get them on the landline they say they will give tomorrow!!

I have two questions:

(1) Who will teach them proper customer service??

(2) When will companies stop bringing in umpteen models, so that items could be readily given??

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The mark of a confident salesman

Recently we visited a leading retail showroom in Madipakkam to check out the latest models
of washing machines and driers.

I could easily make-out that the salesman in charge of the washing machines was pretty sure within
a minute of our beginning to converse with him that we are not going to buy a machine that day.

His knowledge about washing machines was quite admirable. He patiently explained the features of
the various machines and tried to assess what combination of washer and drier would suit our requirements.

By helping a customer with profuse product knowledge, a good salesman can easily gel with the customer
and ensure that he gets the business when the customer is ready for the same!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Vat a solve!!

This is the fact:

(1) A proposal on levying 12 per cent service tax on food served in air conditioned restaurants has
evoked strong reaction from both the hospitality industry and customers. (In fact, when I visited the
famous HSB fast food joint yesterday, I saw a notice stating that 29-4-2013 will be observed as a
Bandh day to protest against this and also shortage of coins).

(2) Already public is paying 10 per cent VAT on food served in restaurants.

This is the reality:

It is a famous three star hotel very close to a more famous five star hotel in Chennai. My brother walks
in and has tiffin in the restaurant in which the AC  is not working. Fretting and fuming he has his tiffin
and is given a bill for Rs.43 including taxes. (What exactly is the quantum of taxes in this case? Nobody knows!!). 

He asks  the server who doesn't know. He takes it in his stride and walks out of the hotel. Again getting curious he walks back and asks the receptionist who doesn't seem to know and in turn he calls the Manager. As my brother starts questioning him, he says the tax is 14.5% (!!) and quickly takes out a 
hundred rupee note from his pocket (Mark: from his pocket) and asks someone to refund the money.
My brother is happy for the moment. I

I am not. And thousands who read this post will not be happy.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How I signed an agreement.

Last year I bought an apartment for my daughter and son-in-law.

I had spoken to the builders and was satisfied with their workmanship and integrity.

When they produced the builder's agreement to me, I just checked the cost portion
of the apartment running to a few lines. The agreement was running to four pages.

Once the cost was checked, I told them. Please see how I sign this agreement.
I closed my eyes (literally) and signed in all the pages.

I continued: If I read this agreement, I may not sign it at all. I will surely have several
objections, because it will mostly be one-sided. So I do not wish to do it.

I have placed my trust on you to do a good job. Only remember that.

Needless to say, they did a very good job, no escalations and further requests for money.

Till this day, I have not gone through that agreement.

Remember, in business, it is all about that one word: TRUST

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What is excellence in Service?

Of course you have read it:

Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

We walked into the R.K. Supermarket in Estancia township in Guduvanchery the other day.

Employee in the lowest rung SMILED.

She asked my grandson his NAME.

She spoke a few words and got to know that we are soon moving in.

And then

And then

And then


This extraordinary behaviour cannot be taught in any upmarket business school.

It comes out of SELF-LEARNING.
It comes out of a DESIRE to HELP OTHERS.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why are you asking me so many questions?

Almost every other day a customer will come up with this question:

"I asked you the price of air-conditioner. Why are you asking me so many questions?"

Quite a few get irritated. Because before I suggest a model and give the pricing, I should definitely
have the answers for my following questions:

(1) Where do you live?
(2) Is it you own house or rented?
(3) In which floor do you reside?
(4) Do you have proper electric connection to run an ac?
(5) What is the approximate room size?
(6) How are we going to fix the unit?

When I explain them why answers to these and a few other questions are important, they appreciate the
fact. Half my sale is done.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Customer service experience - North and South Poles

Date: 9.4.2013
Time: Around 9 a.m.

I drive into my usual favourite petrol bunk in Velachery Bye-Pass Road. There are a number of
service personnel in uniforms hovering around. One person brought the day's tamil newspaper
as a complimentary copy and gave it to me. Another person cleaned my front and rear windscreen
with water while the third person filled petrol after drawing my attention to the Zero in the meter.

Date: 9.4.2013
Time: Around 7 p.m. in the evening

I stop my car in front of a big readymade garments showroom in Velachery-Tambaram road. All the service attenders (two of them) are playing pranks with the cashier in an empty showroom. As I walk in they are not bothered to welcome me and ask me what I am looking for.I tell one of them to show me some dresses for a one year old male child.Then there is an argument between the two as to who should attend to me. Then they ask me to go inside. But nobody follows me. Finally one of them reluctantly comes and attends to me after fighting with the other sales guy.

You have read the two. Decide which one you would like to have in your company. Work for that!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Voluntary Discount offer

A customer rang me up for a particular air-conditioner.

He finalised the order without haggling and said that he would come with the cheque to my office.

On his furnishing the address I found to my surprise that his company is the one to whom we have
entrusted the job of shifting my daughter's house from US to Chennai.

I wrote back telling him: 'We are your customers even before you became ours!'

Having said that, I voluntarily reduced the price at which the deal had been struck as a goodwill

Business is business, but remember, it is all about building long-lasting relationship.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

While you were away....

I am not sure how many among you would have seen the "While you were away..." slips.

In your absence when somebody comes looking for you or tries to contact you over phone (of course
these days the landlines are seldom used) the person who has seen the visitor would fill up this slip
and keep it on your table. This way nothing would be missed. An important business deal could be coming your way!

I don't see such slips nowadays. Recently I visited two showrooms and left a slip with my name
and phone number asking the proprietor to call me back at his convenience.

I never received any return call.

Remember, business is all about opportunities. And you never know when an opportunity comes.

It would be appropriate to end this post with a joke:

Knock, Knock, Knock.

Who's this?


Can't open the door. Go away.


Opportunity knocks only once!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

That is not enough!

Your assistant is efficient. Great! But that is not enough.

You should be equally efficient if not more.

In my earlier example the Doctor complemented his assistant aptly.

On both my visits, he came into his consulting room exactly at 5 p.m.

One could have set his watch as he arrived!

And THAT is what made it a great experience.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What is professionalism?

What is professionalism?

She never went to Harvard. She never went to Ahmedabad. But she is a thorough professional.

She is my doctor's assistant.

When you ring up for an appointment, she will explain that the doctor is available
on all working days except Wed and Thur from 10 to 1 p.m.and on Wed and Thur
from 5 to 7 p.m. You will have to take an appointment and on the appointed day
your turn will be on first come first served basis. The doctor will only see a fixed number of patients on any given day.

On the appointed day, either at 9 a.m.or at 4 p.m. she will ring you up and ask
you whether you are expected to come for the appointment!

During the consulting hours, she will strictly follow the first come first serve order.
No fear. No favouritism.

I praised and congratulated her on her work. She said: "Thanks. Unfortunately people take an appointment, but never turn up. If only they have the courtesy to inform me that they are unable to come, I could allot another patient. So many of them are waiting."

Moral of the story: Stop blaming others all the time, introspect!!

(More on this tomorrow)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Repair? Well.........!!!

A customer rang me up yesterday and told me that the compressor of his window air-conditioner
which he purchased in 2004 had failed and he wanted a new compressor.

I've repaired hundreds of air-conditioners, hundreds of induction motors and so on. My career
started with repairing. Then in those days we used to cut open the reciprocating hermetic compressors,
buy freon-resistant wires, rewind the motors inside, weld the compressor and so on. In the late seventies
we were offered the work of repairing of air-conditioner compressors in Chennai by Shriram Refrigeration Industries (now Tecumseh) of Hyderabad for an initial investment of just Rs.10,000. Somehow we didn't
go ahead with that offer.

But today the days are different! I explained to the customer that it may not be worthwhile replacing the
compressor but rather he should buy a new unit!! But the customer was keen on repairing his unit.

I said "Yes, of course I can give you a new compressor". I can even repair your air-conditioner.

After plenty of discussions I offered him the following options from which he could choose what he
wanted. (The bottom line being that I should not only give what he wanted but also get the business!)

(1) Supply a compressor
(2) Repair his unit myself by replacing the compressor
(3) Supply him a good used machine in working condition. (the current jargon is "Pre-owned")
(4) Supply him a new machine with buy-back of his "junk" machine.

He said that he would discuss with his family members and get back to me. Let me see what he does.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rare gesture by customer...

A customer rang up asking for a particular size of chest cooler.

Since the customer was in a hurry for the product I enquired with my Principals and informed
him that the said product is available and if he ordered it I could get it for him within a day or two.

An hour or two later I again rang up the customer to know the status and also to find out if
I am getting the order.

The customer said that his boss had gone out. Maybe he had gone elsewhere looking for the product.
Don't worry, I shall definitely phone and inform you if you are getting the order or not.

I told him that only one in a hundred customers would voluntarily ring up and give a negative reply.

He said: I know how eager you would be to sell the product. It's my duty to inform you anyways.

A rare gesture indeed!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wit - unwittingly!!

A customer bought a machine two years back and it has been frequently giving problems
and failing.

We tried to get the spares from the company in vain.

The customer, otherwise patient, almost lost his temper and told my service in-charge that
our company is tarnishing the image of the Principal.

My service in-charge, it seems, said: Sorry, Sir. We are not spoiling the image of our Principal.
Our Principal is spoiling our image by not supplying any parts in time!

Yes, everyone has an image, which they should safe-guard.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bed room? No, room for a bed!!

Builders have discovered that the majority of people looking to buy flats can invest only
around 30 to 40 lakhs.

That's fine.

Land within the city is very expensive. So they moved to the suburbs.

That's fine.

A good  2  BHK flat should be around 900 to 1,000 sft. They (the builders) shrunk
it to 800 and 700 sft.

That's fine.

Yesterday a builder sent me details of flats that they are constructing in Guduvanchery, a suburb of Chennai.

One of the bedrooms is shown as 8' x 6'.  A single cot is 61/4' x 3' in size.

That's not fine. That's ridiculous.

Do they keep the cot and build walls all round it?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

That's not my problem - That's my problem!

I approached my cable TV operator for a set-top box and paid the money in November. From the end of January this year I have been asking them for the set-top box but they were saying something or the other.

One day in February they said the boxes will come soon. After several visits, one fine morning they said
that the boxes have arrived and will be sent soon.

Nothing happened.

I again visited and they said your box has arrived. I told them: What is the use of the box lying here? It has to stay near my TV. The technician said that it would be brought.

I again visited them some days later and the guy showed me a box with my name written on it. Here is your box. I literally prostrated before the box and told him to bring it to my house! You see, I was in no mood to loose my temper.

The box was finally fixed but to my dismay I found that some of my favourite channels were blocked.
I went to their office and told them I wanted some channels. The technician said: Well, that is not my problem. You have to contact my owner. I said here is the list of channels I need. Just ask your owner to add them. But he said better give to him directly, I may misplace it.

I finally approached the owner on first of this month. He said: To get the channels you have to pay for the channels together with this month's subscription. I told him that anyway I have to pay monthly and paid him the money then and there.

The channels were not clear. Later he contacted me and asked for my card number, name and so on.

I again went to the office and told the technician that the channels were not clear. Oh, is it so. He says and adds: That's my problem.

I told him: Sometimes you say it's not your problem. Now you say this is my problem. But my problem is not getting solved. He promised to come but to this day he has not. On the last occasion I took his mobile number.

I rang him up yesterday and he said yesterday I was in your next door customer. But I forgot. I will come in another one hour.

Still no sign!

Sadly this is the state of service given by a majority of companies today. Can we never learn to be a disciplined lot?

Saturday, March 16, 2013


A customer ordered an air-conditioner from me and since Saturday was a holiday for him I promised
to send the unit and install it on a Saturday.

My technicians went to his house on Saturday as promised and installed the unit and collected the cheque.
 The customer rang me up late in the evening and thanked me for the good job done (very few people do this.)

It so happened that there was a minor snag in the unit and it didn't work that very night.

The customer tried to ring me up on Sunday but he could not contact me. There was some goof up in BSNL
and on that day I was not able to make or receive calls in my phone. My office was closed being a holiday.

The next day he contacted my office and told them that he had given stop payment instructions for the cheque and that we could collect a fresh cheque after setting right the unit.

My people were very worried. I told them not to get worried and that the technician should go and set right
the unit first and then talk about the payment.

The job was done, payment collected and the customer wrote to me that he had to act as a precaution.

I wrote back saying that if I were in his shoes I might have done something similar. Customer wrote back saying: I appreciate your thought process.

We should always have empathy and share the feelings of another. If I bought a TV for 50K and it didn't work on the first day, would I not be worried?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Not knowing a job is not a sin, not learning is...

Not knowing is not a sin, but not learning is

I went to the Students Xerox shop near my house to take a print-out.

The person was busy and a new-comer was asked to do my job. Downloading,
formatting and taking print outs.

Unfortunately she did not know anything about formatting but was just pressing
a few keys here and there. The other person had to come to her rescue.

The shop manager scolded her saying that she, instead of learning the job
when no customers were around was listening to music and watching movies.

I advised her that it is no magic and that with some dedication and application she too would become an expert very soon.

One must have the itch to learn things.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Apt advertising.

When we advertise for something, we should think over what our target is and plan our advertising

A relative of mine recently purchased a flat and wanted to rent it out.

Usually I suggest to insert an advertisement in a prominent daily (not minding the expense). This would
result in a few people contacting and atleast one who would turn out to be our prospective tenant.

In this case I observed that the apartment itself was in a prominent place and lot of passers-by were
often looking at it eagerly.

So I told them to make a nice banner stating that an apartment is available for rent and the contact
phone number. The banner costed just Rs.300 as against a paper ad which would have costed atleast
Rs.1000 if not more.

Yes a few people did contact and a tenant was fixed within a couple of days.

Some people make out a small computer print out and stick it. I am not saying that this will not
be effective, but then, why not be bold and beautiful?

In business advertising one should be careful to chose the apt media depending upon the budget
and target audience.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Oh! What an engineer!!

Two days back there was a call from an upcoming mall. They wanted a visicooler within about 4 hours.

I told them "No, issues. Just send me a copy of the cheque you are going to give us and I will have
the item sent to you within 2 to 3 hours."

Then they said "Our engineer wants to talk to you. We want to see the item to take measurement of
size so that we can determine whether it will fit in a particular place".

I told them that the item was not with me in my showroom and that I will have to send it from elsewhere.
Please visit our website and the dimensions are given in mm and you can quickly check out".

While on the phone I directed them to the website and the engineer confirmed the dimensions. I said: Yes.

After two hours there was a call from my showroom stating that the engineer and two others were in my
showroom wanting to see the item and measure it.

Oh, What an engineer? Maybe he is an engineer from one of the scores of engineering colleges.
Tailor-made engineer?

Bottom-line: I lost a sale!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Good service, just short of excellent....

There is this grand sweet shop near my house. Earlier they were in one place in the city, but now they have opened shop in many places within Chennai. All the shops are imposing. Neat and clean. They are famous for their sweets and savories.

The other day, I was in a hurry and I went inside this shop and ordered for 1/2 kg. of Kaju Kathli. The customer executive asked the supervisor whether they have received in the stocks just arrived. The supervisor asked him to give from the shelf. I knew something was amiss but my brain didn't work that fast. 1/2 kg. of KK costs around Rs.400.

When I reached home I found to my dismay that the sweets were nearing shelf life and not that good. Sweets are among the items having the shortest shelf life.

The next day I went to this shop for lunch (this is their add-on) and pointed out to them that they had palmed off not so good sweets to me the earlier evening.

"Do you have the bill? Have you brought the sweets?" the supervisor questioned. We will replace. I told her "No, not right here. But I can bring and show you".

I had to go back to this shop the same evening for some other purchase and I gave them part of the KK and the bill. While going back, after paying my bill, I casually pointed out to them the returned item.

The supervisor after some hesitation asked her service executive to give me 1/4 kg. of KK.

They just missed out the "Wow" factor in customer service.


Friday, January 11, 2013

What is in it for me??

Some days back I received an SMS as follows:

Big opportunity in 6900 crore Beauty & Salon business.  ABC company (XYZ Group) is looking
for franchisee in  Chennai & rest of TN. call: xxxxxxxxxx

That is great. You have found out that Beauty & Salon business is a 6900 crore industry. Where?
Whole of India. But if I want to become a franchisee, I should first find out the right answer for
this one question: WHAT IS THERE IN IT FOR ME?

My daughter visited a franchisee of the above said (I have deliberately not mentioned the name)
near my house. She is pleased with the place. She says it is comparable to such places in the US.
The charges are reasonable (when compared to charges in dollars!!). She spends a thousand and more
and even gladly gives a tip of 10 to 15%.

Probably she has got the habit of getting to know about businesses (in my footsteps?) and the person
in charge opens up with her sad story.

The business is running in loss. Few walk-ins and mostly they come for eye-brow trimming and the like
where the billing is not more than Rs.100. The franchisee is stuck with a point of no-return having invested
couple of lakhs.

I go to my neighbourhood saloon (Not Salon!!). It is a small dilapidated 70 sq.ft. shop with a broken
chair and a dull mirror. I get a nice haircut for Rs.70. This guy must be making around Rs.1,000 per day
as his take-home.

Who is clever?

Friday, January 4, 2013


I moved to Madipakkam two years back and have selected a nearby Doctor
as my family physician.

A few days back I had my annual health check-up and showed my family
physician the results. As he was going through my records he came to
know that I had my gall bladder removed by operation a few years back.

He asked me: "How much did you spend for your operation?"

I said that it cost me around 40K.

He says: I took my wife for a similar operation a few weeks back to a
hospital in a hospital in Saligramam and despite showing my ID card
(he is a Government Doctor) they charged my around 125K.

If this is the plight of a Doctor, what about the common man?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Don't keep thinking without acting!

A friend of mine put up a quote in his wall which in part says that
life's problems arise due to our keep thinking without acting.

Yes, true indeed. Yesterday evening I told my dealer friend that
we should stop thinking and start acting.

We were told that a dealer friend of ours needed a certain model
of air-conditioner which was available with us. So I suggested to
him: Let us act.   We took our vehicle, went to his place and asked
him if he needed that ac. But he replied: "Oh, I never knew you had
it. I took it from such-and-such a place."

We immediately rang up the person who had suggested the source
and told him: "You could have asked him to take the ac from us!!".

But then he at once said that right now Dealer X is wanting one such
unit and I shall ring him up asking him to take that machine from you.

We contacted our friend and sold him that unit!

Well, a sale happened because we acted (and didn't just keep thinking
that we should sell).

Friends, for sales to happen there must be conscious effort from our side.
Efforts will never fail.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Service before business

A customer rang me up frantically yesterday, on New Year's Day.

It was late in the afternoon and it was the first call from a customer for the day. Naturally I was excited.

He: Are you a Voltas dealer?

Me: Yes Sir, I am a Voltas dealer and my name is Bhargav. How can I help you?

He: I rang up three other numbers and nobody picked up the phone. (That is the order of the day, but how
can I tell him that?)  I am looking for a water dispenser.

Me: I explained at length to him the different models of water dispensers. (Afterall I was doing the talking
and it was his talk time!!!)

He: I know all that. I have seen the web-site. I want a table top model.

Me: I do not have stock of this item. It would cost you around 8,200 to Rs. 8,500. Where do you stay?

He: I stay in Madipakkam.

Me: I would suggest you to visit the consumer exhibition going on right now at Murugan Kalyana Mandapam
in Bye-pass road and check out. If it be available there you could buy it. If you still have difficulty, please do not waste your time going hither and thither. Just give me a call and I shall source one and have it delivered in your house.

Ah ha! I had the full satisfaction of having genuinely helped a customer fill his need!!

Service: 100%   Business: 0%. Suits me fine, since I do honorary work.

Exceeding Customers' expectations

One of the most important aspect in customer service is trying to exceed the customer's expectations.

I would like to share my experience with one such business woman who has successfully exceeded
the customer's expectation in her line of business activity.

I recently purchased an apartment in Velachery for my daughter and I give below some of the
things observed by me in which the builder has exceeded the customer's expectations:

(1) I purchased a fourth floor (top floor) flat. The builder has provided false ceiling without
extra cost.

(2) She has provided cornice without extra cost.

(3) She has provided Jaguar fittings instead of the usual Metro (or equivalent) as builders specify.

(4) She has provided teak wood for the french window.

(5) She has provided health faucets.

(6) She has provided inverter wiring at free of cost. She has provided the fan regulators in all the rooms.

(7) She has provided video door phones for all the flats.

I could go on. Even my contractors ( wood work people, electricians who came to fit the lights, etc.)
have marvelled at all these items.

 I wish I could render such service in my line of activity!