Friday, June 24, 2016

G O P A L A P U R A M - Part 2

No TV, no cell phones, no internet. Having said that those born after the eighties may wonder
if the residents of Gopalapuram were living in "dark ages" !!

Far from it....

Gopalapuram was (and is) located strategically in Chennai.

No TV meant that people had time to live in a real world as against virtual.... People interacted
well within themselves and helped each other.

Cinema provided the entertainment. Quite a few cinema theatres were within walking distance
from Gopalapuram. For English movies it was Odeon theatre near the Royapettah clock tower.
(it is now known as Melody). The magnificent Safire complex was conceived and built by Dev
Vecumsee opened in 1965 with the movie "Cleopatra". It later added two more screens, Blue Diamond and Emerald. Close to that, Umapathy built his Anand theatre. Since there were a lot
of people coming to see the movies he added another screen Little Anand. Further down we
had the New Globe (later known as Alankar). A little beyond that was well, quite many.
Midland (later became Jayapradha when the actor bought it) Wellington, New Elphinstone (now
Raheja complex), Casino, Gaiety and Chitra. Near the Royapettah police station came up yet
another wonderful theatre Pilot. It was the first one with a cinerama screen. The movie could be
simultaneously screened from three projectors.... Unfortunately the cinerama concept didn't pick up.
Later came up the Woodlands theatre complex.

Even the so called theatres which were dubbed as being far off, were if one were to judge by
today's standards, quite near! To name a few...  Nagesh, Rajakumari (T.Nagar) Star (Triplicane)
Kamadhenu (Mylapore)... One could easily reach these places within 15 minutes on a cycle...
The cycle was a popular mode of transport.... be continued (please keep adding your own experiences and inputs!)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Time machine

The time machine has the fascination of almost everyone.

In 1895 H.G.Wells wrote The Time Machine. Very recently we had the Tamil movie 24
which also was made on the time travel concept. One should not forget that in the movie the
extent to which one could travel backwards in time was restricted to 24 hours only.

We cannot actually go back in time, but our thoughts and memories can!!

In the early part of the twentieth century, the area now known as Gopalapuram in Chennai had just begun to come into being.

"Go" refers to cow. It would almost be difficult for man to survive without milk. India is the largest producer of milk in the world. "Gopal" is Lord Krishna, the one who takes care of the cows, a cowherd so to say...

The area beyond Chola Hotel was full of bamboo trees....

Some of my elders have in the past told me that during some digging operations the idol of
Venugopalaswamy was found and it is this which is in the present Venugopalaswamy temple in
Gopalapuram.  So the area got to be known as Gopalapuram. (This however needs authentic corroboration.)

In the sixties and early seventies Madras was just what many people referred to as  "Big Village".
There was no TV, no cell phones, no internet....

My school was just 100 metres or so from my house. It worked between 10 AM and 4 PM.
I could hear the bell ringing from my house. Peaceful atmosphere. No pollution. No noise.
While playing in the Corporation Playground we could hear the Church bells pealing from
the Cathedral Church which was almost a kilometre away! be continued

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Own apartment or rented?

One question which I invariably ask customers looking for an air-conditioner is whether they
are staying in a rented apartment or one which is their own.

Sometimes people get irritated with this question and ask, "What has that got to do with
my buying an air-conditioner?"

Well you see, you may buy a one ton air-conditioner which is okay for you now. Six months
or a year or two later when you buy your own apartment and if that room needs a one point five
air-conditioner, you might think that you could have bought a bigger unit in the first place...

Yes, they understand and there are instances when the customer has gone in for a bigger unit....

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Booking clerk vs sales executive.

In earlier days, before the advent of computers, if one wanted to travel by train, a visit to the
railway station was to be made. There used to be booking counters with booking clerks.
You know where you want to go, on which date you wish to travel and by which train and class.
The clerks job was just to make an entry in the relevant date and train chart manually and hand
you over the ticket after collecting the money.

These days with people enjoying holiday travel with family, thanks to disposable income and what not....  One would consult a travel executive or adviser to plan the trip. Where will one go? Singapore or Thailand or Malaysia? Which is the best time? Which airline is the cheapest? How many days? There are so many questions to be addressed...

The air-conditioner sales executive likewise has to get answers from the client for a number of questions. What is the area of the room? Where is it located? If an apartment, in which floor?
What would be the ideal place to locate the outdoor unit? What is the distance between the indoor and outdoor? Which star rating is ideal? What is the voltage in the area and what should be the regulation of the voltage stabilizer?

One can give a quote only after knowing the answers for these questions. Unfortunately today guys just from school or college are designated as sales executives. They should be given proper training over a period of time to enable them to be a sales executive graduating from the booking clerk status.

Machines are sold without educating the customer on the parameters to be looked into and helping him/her make the ideal choice!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Speak the truth.....always?

Speak the truth....always.

Yes one has to speak the truth always. But sometimes not telling the whole truth may help.

We had finalized order for a fairly large quantity of air-conditioners. Our getting the order
however had a condition!  We have to arrange finance for the client.

The client was very cost conscious and wanted finance only from a bank. Because they are
the ones who charge the least interest.

We spoke to a banker and he requested an executive to look into the matter. He came with us
and met the businessman and promised him to help. The businessman then said that the bank manager could come and meet him.

Sure Sir, said the executive. But you may please come just once to our head-office and meet him
in his office. The businessman understood that to get credit he had to put in some effort.
But there was one small issue.  He was a heart patient and not in a position to climb the stairs.

The executive said, "No issues Sir. We have lifts."

The businessman accompanied us and the bank executive to their head-office.

Now those were the days of poor voltage and frequent power cuts! The bank executive never
mentioned about this.

On reaching the bank we found that the lift was not working. Now the executive, very smart I should
say, said: "Sir, please, just a few steps. come, come".  The businessman for whom time was running out was in no mood to say no. The executive cleverly made him to slowly climb two floors!!

Subsequently the bank did give credit facilities and we got the order!!

So you see, sometimes it is better not to tell the whole truth.

Monday, June 13, 2016 is better to lose an order!

Will a businessman or sales executive like to lose an order? The answer obviously is NO.

But then there are some buyers who are skillful negotiators. But these days there are quite
a number of people who just call the bluff. 100 Rupees? "X" is willing to supply at 97 Rupees.

Such a situation has to be deftly handled by you.

First, you should have the knowledge at what price the same product is offered by
different sellers in the market. What is the differential?

Secondly, can you supply at that price? Will it be profitable?

And, finally will you get the order at that price?

If the buyer is too much of a haggler, it is better to lose the order.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Order lost.........still don't give up!!

Once an order is lost most people tend to give up.

Last year a leading educational institute contacted us for air-conditioning a portion of their
premises. We gave our recommendation and also had several meetings with their
architects and management. They contacted us several times in connection with this
requirement and we were almost about to get the order.

They then appointed a consultant who gave a different plan - for machines which were
not in our range of supply.

In the meanwhile we had developed good contact with them. Being an educational institution
group, I knew they would be requiring split/window units from time to time.

So I kept talking to them once in a while. After a few months we received order for
two machines followed by some more recently.

Moral of the story: Losing an order is not the end of the road. Having established a
relationship, nurture it. Someday you may be rewarded.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

How to lose orders....

Sometimes orders may be lost after a lot of hard work for ever so many reasons!

But we have to take it in our stride.

Years back we were driving down Egmore and saw a huge old building being razed in
a prominent location.

"Mark this" my friend told me. " This could be one place where we could sell a good
quantity of air-conditioners....".

From then on for almost eight months we watched that place. As building work commenced
we would try to meet the owners. Later we came to know that a 2 star hotel is planned.
After many visits we gave our quote for air-conditioners. Then we obtained information
on where the owners were living ( so that we could meet them in their house.)

As luck would have it from the address I saw that a good friend of mine was staying
in the same address.  When we actually went to that place we found that my friend was
staying in adjoining apartment in ground floor.

We asked him to introduce us to the owners.....  We got closer to getting the order.

Finally we had succeeded in getting an order for 50 air-conditioners. But when we
actually got the order in our hand - it was for 40 air-conditioners.

Just the previous Sunday a competitor had met them in the church and managed to get
an order for 10 air-conditioners!

Had we not put in so much of hard work, we would have lost the entire order!!

Are salesmen prepared to do such work now?

Friday, June 10, 2016

How to get leads....

Salesmen depend on leads to get orders.

Nowadays, most, almost all salesmen expect the leads to be given to them on a platter.

There are ever so many ways to "generate" leads. Out-of-the-box thinking and quick
action is needed.

Some decades back company's sales executives were given personal targets as also
commission on sales. (This practice was subsequently done away with.) So much so they
were reluctant to give "sure-shot" leads to their dealers.

Once while I was discussing with an executive, I noticed a letter head of ABC company
peeping out of a bunch of papers.

I made a note of this and immediately recognized the company and knew that its head office
was close to my own office.

On the way back I dropped into the office and introduced myself and my company. After a
short while I came to know that they were in need of two air-conditioners and asked me to
send in a quote.

Those were the days before the computer and I had my brief-case with quotation pads, leaflets, etc.

I wrote out a quote then and there and handed it over to them.

Needless to say, I got the order within a week!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Volume driven sales

If you are in the business of only air-conditioning as a small company, you should appreciate
the fact that volume driven sales will not take you anywhere!

Reduce margin and increase sales? May work only on paper. It is only for companies with a regional or national reach with delivery logistics who can try to do this. Some of the Indian on-line companies are able to complete tens of thousands of transactions every day. Their ad-spend is enormous. Have they as yet started to make any profits?

Don't fall into this trap.

If you have been in the business for some years, you would have observed that 75% to 80% of your
business comes from 20% to 25% of your customers. Concentrate on these customers. Nowadays executives are visiting customers only when there is a specific call or request whereas they should
be visiting these "A" customers at regular intervals. They fail to understand how much of business they are losing because of this.

Small companies cannot afford to reach out to distant places for delivery or service. If only they concentrate on the regions closer to their base, give good service and sell at a healthy price they
would be in safer grounds!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Secret of the Japanese

Some thirty years or so back I was reading a book titled Management - Japanese style.

In that book it was mentioned that all the Japanese students who pass out of their management
studies will have to first compulsorily work in the villages for six months.

And what is the work that they will to there for six months? They have to clean the toilets
all of the six months. After that they will take up suitable positions in factories and so on.

Now what is this?

It teaches the dignity of labour. They will be prepared to do any job. The General Manager
will have no hesitation in picking up a waste bit lying on the factory floor and putting it in
the waste bin. It will be done just like that.

Alas! Where are we now? A sales executive when questioned why the quotation was not
couriered said that the person to do the job was busy and away. The courier office was
five minutes away and he could have done the job in fifteen minutes without waiting for
someone else to do it!!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Salesman and target....

Companies, particularly the smaller ones, appoint salesman to boost their sales.

But more often than not they fail to fix a minimum target to be achieved.

Based on the remuneration paid to the salesman, a minimum target is to be fixed
and monitored. If the salesman fails to achieve his target continuously for a period
of time (say three months), he should be given the handshake.

Also, incentive for sales should be applicable only after the minimum target is

Failure to do so only makes the salesman lethargic....

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Supervisor and technicians/helpers

For a business to sustain, grow and give proper service and revenues to the company,
there ought to be a healthy ratio of supervisor and workmen.

Unfortunately I find that many companies have a supervisor working with just
one or two technicians.

A supervisor should be able to take care of atleast four to five technicians and
another six to eight helpers....