Friday, August 24, 2007

Training in Malgudi - Part II

(Contd. from previous post, Part-I)

05-06 May, 2007
I was told that carpenting work by Achari's father doesnt support the family much as modern tools are easily available and rare orders come their way. Balakrishna, Shyam Sundar Achari's younger brother was learning the carpenting skills from his father and I thought that Balakrishna should support the family as much as Achari and looked for possible options.

That's when it occured to me that Balakrishna could actually sell my company products in this small village. As I reflected more on this subject, I felt he could in fact try and sell the entire range of consumer good products right from soaps to shampoos of any company.

I slowly started talking to Achari about this when he came and he got very excited about it. We then felt it would be a great task to convince the family about the project and the risks in putting down the initial investment in the project. I then told myself that I will not disclose the amount (Rs 2000) the company will offer to the family as compensation. I decided to tell them that the company will give Rs 1500 and with the rest Rs 500, we will go and buy products from the nearby town, Kurnool. That settles the investment.

I spent the entire night in explaining to the family about the new Kirana business that I said I will fund with Rs 500. I have learnt in school about the importance of change management, but have seldom had experience in changing attitudes of the family members. The family had great trust in me and they thought that I was intelligent and greatly educated and this could actually be an opportunity of prosperity. They even repeatedly mentioned that god must have sent me to their house to accomplish a mission.

I reasoned that Balakrishna could easily do much better and since he does not have a paying job at hand, he could take up the project. He will take the Rs 500 worth of products and sell them at MRP to the houses nearby his house and in nearby villages. His modus operandi would be to carry the goods in his cycle from house and house and showing the products like bathing soap, talc, shampoo etc. He can organise himself by visiting one village once a week. Once he is out of stock, he can go and buy from town with the help of his brother, Achari and then get back. The profits from the intial seed of Rs 500 will be ploughed back into the business by buying some new categories like mosquito coils, balms etc. Till he has stock of the good range of products including food items like oil, rice etc, he will not take money from the business. During the discussion, Achari's father suggested he can prepare a shop using wood in about 3 months and they can have a store in addition to the home delivery. We all slept hopeful of a bright future in our own ways.

May 07, 2007 (Sunday)
Since I have visited the Kurnool market many a time and knew where the wholesalers are located, I took them straight to Nehru Road and we located a shop open on a Sunday and we bought stocks for Rs 350. Items bought included Rs 5 Ponds Talc, Rs 5 Santoor soap, Rs 2 Amrutanjan Balm, Rs 2 Jet Mosquito Coil, some locally popular detergent etc. From my company distributor, I had arranged stocks worth Rs 150, mainly comprising Chik, Fairever and Chinnis Vermicili. I explained to Achari that he can get products from company distributors much more cheaply and hence the Acharis can make a handsome profit. He assured me that he will locate all company distributors in Kurnool and from the next purchase, he will buy from them.

After our stocks purchase, we bought a long note book and a pen to keep account of the daily sale that is to happen from the next day. I also bought a lot of pens, rulers, note books, pencils and sharpeners to give to the students of Bade Basha. I then went to a browsing centre and helped Achari prepare his resume and posted it in many job sites in a hope that he will someday land in a better job.

May 08, 2007
It was the last day in the villlage that I had planned for myself and decided to leave post lunch and catch the afternoon train to Hyderabad. Achari, Balakrishna and me woke up early next day and were startled to find a lot of activity going on inside the house. Usha Rani was helping Achari's father and grandfather to clean the front part of the house so that the new stocks could be displayed there for sale.

Me and Balakrishna meanwhile went to Bade Basha's house to meet the students and give them the gifts. The tuition was in the terrace and I was pleasantly shocked to hear the chorus "Good morning, Sir" when I arrived. It has been quite sometime that I passed of elementary school and it momentarily carried me back to those old days. Bade Basha introduced me saying I was highly educated and paid and that the students can become like me if they studied well. I asked some general knowledge questions and gave the gifts to whoever answered them correctly. I also asked each of them to tell me what they wished to become. It was heartening to hear many say teachers. They said they will come back and teach to students in their village so that more will study and they can also earn good respect as school teachers. Some wanted to become lawyers, some girls wanted to become Police Officers and it was heartening to hear their ambitions. I told them I wished to read in papers that the state toppers are from Rudravanam village and if it happens, I will travel to Rudravanam again to congratulate them.

When I returned back to the Achari's house, I saw that the products were all out hanging and the entire family looked at them with great expectations. We couldnt believe our luck when a young girl passing by the house noted that Chik is hanging inside for sale and quickly bought 2 sachets for 50ps each. I too made a purchase of few products and gifted them to the family.

It was getting late for me and I left the family wishing them great luck. The Achari family had got me a lot of freshly plucked drumsticks to carry home and expressed their sincere gratitude in many ways. They suggested that the new shop will be named after me and I strongly opposed saying that the shop should not only bring money, but also respect from the village people. 'Achari Stores' could thus be apt and also easily recognized by the villagers. They said they will never forget me in their lifetime and I too told them the same, for their hospitality amidst constraints was way too good to be described in just words.

The Achari brothers and their grandfather accompanied me to the railway station. We travelled on top of an auto and I truly enjoyed the journey and the scenery breaking through the beautiful countryside. On way, we visited a photo studio and got ourselves a photo. I soon boarded the train to Hyderabad and proceeded back to my home in Hyderabad. I got a call from the Achari brothers that night and I felt I should be the most happiest person around when I heard that they sold for about Rs 150 on the first day !

The next day I almost couldnt believe what I was hearing when the Achari brothers told me their sales touched Rs 500 on the second day. The third day was almost as delightful when I heard that they have confidently put the entire Rs 1500 I paid them as company's compensation in buying goods that they are going to sell.

Even to this day, I am hearing from them now and then and I am only too happy to hear of the Acharis' progress. I told my parents and close friends this experience of mine and I am too glad that I got such an opportunity in my lifetime. Hope my company wouldnt mind when I tell them that at end of the training stint, I havent learnt as much on how we could do business through them as on how they can do their own business through us !!!


Arunkumar Dhananjayan said...

Great post TAR. I am very happy to hear that you used this opportunity to make a difference in their life.

Dhandy said...

Just came across this... curious to know if they r still in touch with u and how is their business going on...