Saturday, May 30, 2015

Selling to celebrities

People buy air-conditioners. Celebrities are no exception.

If the celebrity himself/herself gets involved in the purchase it would
be okay.

But more often than not their manager or some third person gets involved in the purchase. Of course the celebrity need not waste his/her time on such mundane things

Two days back a gentleman rang me up and asked me whether I knew Mr. XXX (Family name). I said "No". Then he mentioned two first names, which anyone would immediately recognize. Top celebrities.

Then he went on to say that my office insisted on payment and that the celebrity would give the cheque on delivering the air-conditioner.

I said okay. But please send me an order by e-mail giving address, name and phone number of contact person, etc. and I would send the unit.

I am still waiting for the e-mail......

Sunday, May 24, 2015

It happened like this...

It happened like this....


Shri J.S. Jaspal was the Branch Manager of Gem India Limited, distributing Gem refrigerators (manufactured by Kelvinator India Ltd.) and
Ms. Suraksha Giri was the Branch Manager of Hyderabad Allwyn Limited
manufacturing and selling the famous Allwyn Refrigerators.

A few units would get slightly damaged in transit and minor dent removal and painting was required. Our workshop Kool Kontrols was quite close to these companies and they would give us these units for repairs.

We had our painter Arumugam living just two blocks away. He used to do
a neat job. (Later he became a contractor for Hyderabad Allwyn).

Not a thickly populated Chennai, it was wonderful to watch these guys in action. When a refrigerator required full tinkering and painting (after a few years usage), the painter would first scrap the old painting. Then a coat of primer. Later three coats of white paint. Sometimes blue.

And then almost two to three hours of polishing with pure white cotton waste and polish.....

We even used to get the nearby carpenter to make stands for refrigerators. These too required painting.

The carpenter Dhanapal was a neighbour of the painter. He used to make his own famous "Shivaji" brand of barber chairs....

I asked the carpenter to make a clothes wardrobe and he supplied one for Rs.200.  I am to this day using it!!

Painters and carpenters... where are they now?

(incidentally, "It happened like this is" is a story book authored by
Ms. Suraksha Giri and released in 2014.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shri Thulukanam (Tinker)

Shri Thulukanam (Tinker)

Today I wish to pay a tribute to Late Thulukanam (Tinker).

He was an artisan, a great craftsman. He lived in Zamin Pallavaram and used to come everday to our Air-conditioning workshop in Royapuram.

A bag containing his tools, hammer, chisel, L-angle, etc.

We had allotted a particular space for him. Nobody would disturb him. He would bring his lunch with him every day.

I am talking of the period 1975 to 1990 and a little later also. You should remember that those were the days of window air-conditioners only.

What are the things he would do? Base plate for window air-conditioner, patch work on base plates, shrouds, fan motor base, patch work and so on.

Half and full!!  I mean half size and full size bottom trays to drain out the condensate water in window air-conditioners. We used to sell many of these.

We used to buy steel and zinc sheets in bulk. When there was no heavy
repair work for him we used to ask him to do spare base plates and so on.

Unfortunately we are becoming slaves to technology and CNC machine working and so on.

The days of the artisan are gone.....

Do any of you out there still use the services of a tinker to do patch work, etc.??  I am curious to know!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

You can't buy an air-conditioner just like that!

You can't buy an air-conditioner just like that!

A customer rang up my office and seems ordered for a 1 ton window air-conditioner and asked them to delivery it immediately.
My staff  had to inform him that he needs to first pay the money for the unit.
He said he didn't want.
However my staff gave me his number and asked me to talk to him.
The next day I rang him up. He asked me if I was from showroom at YY area. I told him that I am not from YY but from Royapettah showroom.
He said he had ordered the unit.
After two days the very same customer rang me up again and asked me whether I could send him a 0.75 ton window air-conditioner. He now explained that the size of the window is just 450 mm x 350 mm and that a 1 ton unit could not be accomodated.
I politely told him that 0.75 ton window unit is not in the present range of units in Voltas.
But we can't leave it at that....
Customer need has to be fulfilled by a service minded person.
I told him I would get back to him and later informed him that OG 0.75 ton window unit would suit him and is available.
Now the customer again said: Send the unit.
I told him that I am not a dealer for the said unit.
He said General? ETA?? It is like my home because I worked there for more than 20 years.
NOW I TOLD HIM: Sir, please ring them up and ask them to send a unit to you. They will surely send you one !!!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Free installation !! (Really free !!!)

Free installation !! (Really free !!!)
Free installation, free stabilizer, free delivery ... these are all standard terms nowadays.
Ofcourse we all know nothing is free and the costs are "Built-in".
But there was a time when I used to give free installation - really free with no hidden costs.
We were maintaing 300 plus air-conditioners for a leading bank. More than 200 machines were in its head-office situated within 200 metres away from my service centre.
We had AMC for all the machines and a technician and two assistants were always present in the Bank.
The bank would now and then call for tenders to buy air-conditioners.
We would quote for the air-conditioner and stabilizer at the cost price to us. Installation: free.
You see anyway our people were there (their salary etc. already taken care of in AMC income...) and they would install the air-conditioner/s.
THIS is surely free installation !! (And the AMC income would go up by as many numbers the next year).

Monday, May 18, 2015

"We are dealers for XX and YY...."

"We are dealers for XX and YY brands of air-conditioners, but for my home I want to buy VOLTAS air-conditioners".

A customer came to my showroom a few days back. My guys requested him to talk to me over phone.

He introduced himself and informed me that his brother is a dealer for XX and  YY brands of air-conditioners.

I re-called my association with his brother, since we both were in the air-conditioning business, in the very same road, during the late seventies.

He pointed out that he is still, yes STILL , using the Voltas air-conditioners he had purchased in the year 1987.  (28 years of performance). Needless to say being air-conditioning people themselves they would have serviced the machines very regularly.

He was sentimental and wanted only Voltas machines for his home. (he has several factories in Chennai and has scores of other brands of units).

He was pleased that I kindled old memories and finalized his purchase.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fruits of good service

What is the ultimate fruit of good service?

A customer of ours rang us up and asked us to send
an air-conditioner. No pricing asked or given. No purchase order
released. No advance payment.

We send the machine, present the bill and collect the payment.

Probably we could say it is the height of mutual respect and confidence.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Killing two birds with one stone (Orae kallula irandu maangai)!!

Killing two birds with one stone (Orae kallula irandu maangai)!!

You may be a SSD. But at heart you must be a businessman!!

Yesterday we wanted to deliver an item to a place 20 Kms. away.
Both our regular vehicle contractors were not available. We were not
in a mood to source an unknown person.

We threw an arrow. There is a co-dealer near our place who has his
own vehicle and driver. We rang him up and asked him whether he
could spare his vehicle.

Yes, he did, he charged us for it and our job was done.

You see my friend
(1) Earned our goodwill by sparing his vehicle.
(2) By charging for it, he could make some money when his
vehicle was idling!!
(3) And his driver got a tip!!!

This is known as business acumen.