Friday, June 28, 2013

The 1st call to the ASM- my first Boss

So, I called Hash at night to report on my day. This is what he said;

" I want you to call every evening/night after work and report on what you have learned during the day. The more questions you ask, the better... else, I will start asking the questions and then you better have answers".

Me- Yes, Hashidhar (that is his name)
Him- What did you call me?
Me- Hashidhar
Him- Please call me 'Hash' and not Hashidhar
Me- Ok

It sounds very funny in hindsight 'coz Hash was my colleague in West when I was ASM and he is sort of a friend now. And... he is not that strict. He is actually a good, supportive boss.

I took a quick shower and left for dinner. KC had mentioned a rooftop restaurant and Sarvana Bhavan. I wondered if I should invite him or will it seem too forward? I didn't want him to get the wrong idea. Most guys don't know the difference between 'friendship/camaraderie' and 'interested'. I decided to take my chance. I knocked on his door and asked him if he wanted to come for dinner. He agreed. I insisted on Sarvana Bhavan 'coz I planned to have b'fast there and wanted to know its location. Many years later, KC would tell me that he had wanted to go to the rooftop restaurant.

Sarvana Bhavan was a delight... fast customer service, very good idlis/dosa, numerous chutneys and cheap.
I returned to the hotel and dropped dead. It had been a long and hard day.

My schedule for the next 2 weeks was like this:
- 7 am: Wake up
- 8 am: Rush for b'fast to Sarvana Bhavan
- 9 am: Reach distributor point (mostly at Royapettah)
- 9.15 am: Leave for market
- 9.15- 4/5 pm: 60 calls
- 5/6 pm: Reach distributor point... fill report...
- 7 pm: Leave for hotel
- 8 pm: Reach hotel... call Hash (cross fingers that he does not answer the phone)
- 9 pm: Quick shower and dinner at rooftop restaurant with KC where we discussed our day
- 10 pm: Dead to the world

The distributor I worked most with was at Royapettah. It is difficult to pronounce and the autowalas did not spare me. They would pretend not to understand it... even after I got my pronunciation perfect. Every morning was spent haggling with them. Frustrating!!!

The distributor had 3 units which were cycles with a flat stand to carry stocks. The territory was small enough for the salesman to cover it on cycle. It also reduced the cost of fuel and help the distributor earn more margins. It also limited the amount of stock a salesman could carry because there is a limit to how much the cycle unit can hold.
Here is the challenge for the DSE/ASM:
- Should they convert the distributor to a auto or let it be on a cycle? Which is better? What if sales are low because it limits how much stock a salesman can sell in a day? Most distributors try to keep their costs as low as possible... even at the cost of sales.

There was a salesman who was very young. For him, it was a very unique situation- a female coming to sell candies with him and spending all day. While working in the market, he would stop at a shop and buy me a cold drink. It was quite embarrassing because he earned less than 10k/month and I did not want him spending money on me. Insisting did not help. He would force a cold drink on me and not let me pay. On one of the days we went for lunch to a small place where food was cheap and served on banana leaf. I was quite a sight but being fair in Chennai meant that I was noticed everywhere and had gotten used to it. I guess it is because of this that I don't care what people think or say. I have always been like this but have developed a thicker skin due to this experience.
It was June and monsoons had started. It would rain while we were in the market and then we had to find shelter. The cycle carrying stock would be covered with a plastic. Also, the salesman would not be able to ride on the bicycle when I was around 'coz I was on foot. Walking all day is very tiring and kudos to this person who didn't mind it at all. He told me of an incident when he was selling to a retailer. The cycle with stocks was behind him near the road. Someone came and stole a whole carton of candies which made the distributor furious.

Next Post: Hash's surprise visit

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