It was one of those, awfully boring days. Gitu and I had decided to do some 'group study' of economics, and like always nothing worth mentioning was getting into our heads. Economics isn't a boring subject, but it can get really boring when it's 2 in the afternoon, all you want to do is sleep.
Hey! This post isn't about economics, so don't close the window. Economics gave way to food, and food to the lack of it in our block. Voilà! An idea struck- Why can't we set up the stores in our block? Good idea, right? Trust me, it was a great idea, and the Big Boss of the department, gave us the nod- Thus SSN SoMCA stores was born!
All brilliant ideas, take time before their manifestation, and ours took a fairly long time to go on the floors. And it did on- One fine august day, it really was an 'august' day. We re-opened the stores. The place which was once the stores-then became the coffee shop had now become the stores again! The stocks arrived, and it was open to public. We've been feeding hungry tummies since then. We started functioning on a non-profit basis, it dint deter us though. Every day at 8, we opened the doors, sold out coffee, tea, unhealthy lays and biscuits; not to forget unbranded murukku :D
Like all shops around the corner, the customers did not pour in; they trickled by one after another. If I had to describe the stores in a phrase it would be- Fun Learning. We had lots of fun; after all, we were doing social service- feeding hungry folks. (Quoted by a Prof). He actually thought it was a great students' initiative. The fun part was not just feeding tummies, but it was that sense of accomplishment- something like "We are the people of the Stores".
We the people of the stores get ragged everyday in class by our Sales Mgt. Prof. He picks on me like picking cheese on pizza. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the last row or in the front; he’s got these hawk eyes which are trained to look out for the sleepy head ME! Gee and Roo get picked on too. It all depends on his mood. The worst thing is- there was a question in the test about how to sell certain products at SoMCA stores. We should be given royalty for using our patented names without our permission :P
Like all stories, this one was also meant to be fun. The learning part just happened.
Like you learn the supply-demand concept; when the shelves are almost empty, everybody wants lays. When there is yellow lays, people want green lays.
Managing the accounts- making sure the stocks sold tally with the cash in hand.
Analysing consumer needs and wants- you can do your bit of marketing here. Determine the needs of the consumer, see what you can offer, and stick to your goal of making money. Knowing your customer is another important thing. Who likes what, and sell it to that person. Enticing new ones too.
Organization Behaviour; Not all employees work with the same gusto :P Some people do only their part of the job, and will not cooperate with you when you need an off. While, some others are more than happy to come with you, even when it is not their turn. Learning to trust the other dept people. Politics exists everywhere; even inside a 3 walled room!
Service quality and promptness. You can’t do much about the quality of goods, but you can sure be nice when you serve them. Learning to smile at people whom you don’t like. Take back biscuit packets when they are damp. If somebody’s coffee has an ant in it- don’t be cheeky and say; be happy it wasn’t a cockroach, instead smile and give him/ her another cup.
Profs are to be given special importance. The store also gives you this avenue to talk to the wise old men in the college. Serve them nice coffee- strike a conversation and this way you can also become worldly wise.
Consumer behavior- a great platform to absorb all that’s taught in class. People who pick the new flavor of biscuits unmindful of the taste are the Variety Novelty Seeking folks, people who pick only marie biscuit are traditionalists or kanjoos or on a diet. There are people with compulsive buying habits- MD sir loves murukku during the break, Ram is obsessed about eating lays twice a day, Badri likes ONLY tea, Aishwarya loves green lays, but wants to eat only marie biscuit now, stuff like this.
Sales- how did I miss this! We work on pure sales :P You learn to forecast the demand for green lays, if the stocks don’t arrive on time, we try to push off the old stock. Not everybody wants to buy from you- convincing Kannan sir that, it’s ok to go off the diet for a day.
I think the biggest learning we’ve had is- a company is a going concern. The people who run it are not the ones who ‘own’ it. L We’re finalizing the accounts this Friday and have to hand over the keys to a new bunch of caretakers. When Roo broke the news to me, I was really upset. How can we just give up on, what we’ve worked for? But yeah, we have to.
Finally, we’re recruiting! We need sales persons- remuneration would be- 15% profits. Interested candidates may apply!
I agree, that the topic dint sound a little too high and mighty, but take it from me- I've learnt a lot of the concepts in this tiny little room, and the learning goes a long way, in establishing a lot of facts. The SoMCA store is one of those things that made SSN a better place to be in. Gave me a little sense of belongingness and achievement! I’ve been a part of something substantial, and I just hope the coming batch of students make something good out of this.
One day, When I visit the place after a few years, I should be beaming :D LOL
High hopes eh?