Friday, May 23, 2008

To reduce space factor, Jaya and me visited Manali to buy peace

After a round of discussions where to visit, to come out from daily hassles generally followed by skirmishes, Jaya , my better half and I closeted for nearly ten minutes without any utterance. Atmosphere of the room was tense. As if, dark clouds hovered over her face. I stood up and broke the pin drop silence.

“Now, where you want to visit”
“Who am I a dictate?”
I kept quiet. A phone call came and I overheard Jaya’s voice. Nearly, after fifteen minutes, she came to my room”
“Let us go to mountain”
“mountain””why not”
“ok, ok”

Finally, place decided for visit was Switzerland of India that is Manali. Distance of Manali from Delhi is 500kms. Initially, we decided to go by car enjoying the hilly roads, but dropped the plan to avoid 12hrs of journey. So we flew to Manali from Delhi. We ushered into the car at Kulumanali airport or Bhuntur airport as local people called, on 20th April 2008 morning at 10.00am. The car was speeded through the mountainous road, flanked by greeneries, temperature was very pleasant at 15 degree centigrade, of course, little chilled wind was blowing but manageable without any woollen clothes and my

goodness, what a scenic beauty? By enjoying greeneries, mountain pass, picturesque, we reached to the Manali heights resort at a level of 6000 ft after nearly two hours and dumped our luggage. Jaya was not in a mood to waste any time and we were out to see one of the beautiful valleys in the mountain at 14000 ft by the name “Sohang Valley”. When the car journey was more than through near the destination of Sohang, road closed sign was displayed by Para-military forces, as sudden snow fall covered the road and our journey was disrupted. We came back to the hotel Manali Resort, no choice but with a gloomy face.

On 21st April 2008, we started to visit Rohtang Pass, 52 kms from our hotel galloping scenic beauties of the places called Nehru Kund, Kothi, Gulaba Camp, Rayla falls, Beas Nala, Marhi and ultimately to Rohtang. Nehru Kund was in dilapidated condition because of wreckage of surrounding mountain rocks due to strong snow falls, nearly 6 months ago. At Kothi, we stopped the car to have a look to the mountain pass.

“I cried, do not look at the bottom.”
“Jaya retorted, I am not coward like you.”
“Coward dies many times before their death but I don’t want to make friendship with Mrs. Death immediately.””Why”
“Simple very simple, where will you get Mr. Live”

We enjoyed the classic beauty of Kothi resort and proceeded for Gulaba Camp and then Rayla Falls. We saw a strip of white was affixed on the mountain in zigzag fashion like a snake was kissing the mountain. We were focused on the dazzling beauty of the static snow on the mountain. In the meantime, car driver brought two cups of real good coffee and also broke the unpalatable news of road blocked further upto Rohtang Pass. He advised a bit with smiling face to content our journey up to Marhi.

Jaya as usual got violent “What are all these happenings?”
“You should have consulted an astrologer before leaving.”
“I would not consult astrologer but insult not giving you company, henceforth.”
“You are the most unlucky fellow may be under this sun, in this world.”

Somehow managed to reach Beas Nala from Rayla falls 16000 ft on the top, of course by a hand cart driven by roller arrangement pushed by two persons. Narrow road, uneven path, one side surrounded by hard rock snow and the other side straight down to ditches. I started chanting, Jaya got vivacious. After sometimes got down from the two seater typical two roller wooden handcart. Jaya jumped to the little higher level to the white ground full of snow. People were skating, driven by sledge car like in Eskimo. Photos were flashed
endlessly. Young couples were hugging, kissing what not they were doing. I was in another world of dream.

“What happened, why are you looking to those young couples, let them do whatever they like to do.”
“I am enjoying.”
“Snow and snow ball”
“At your age of mid 50, you must concentrate on snow and think for white means cleanliness.”

Driver Vijay was damn good, again brought two cups of coffee which we finished and glanced the beauty of surroundings with enlivenment. We were nearly two hours at this Beas Nala , 4kms down side to Marhi. From here, within another 20kms, the highest mountain of Himalaya mountain near Manali, is the Rohtang Pass. Some say, it is identical from beauty, scenic point of view to Jungfru of Interlaken, Switzerland.

We started declining by the wooden wheel car to our parked vehicle down to Beas Nala. Reached to the hotel within another two hours around 8.30 p.m. Next day, 22nd April was the departure day, Jaya was very morose as she could not see the Sohang Valley, Rohatang Pass only to get a promise from me for visit in the future and that is the way, I pacified her and buy peace for momentarily.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

4 C Principles of Art of Money Collection


Business survives on flow of orders and money. Both these functions are so important that it gives umbrella on all other functions. To establish a business, product is to be identified in line with the background of the entrepreneur and then to market the product either to the mass market or to the niche. After marketing is established, hard core sales is to be materialized and then collection of sales proceeds or money collection management is to be monitored very religiously. Any lacuna in this activity will dig a pot hole to the existence of the business for the longer run.

After a great deal of research, I have found the concept of 4 C of money collection management is nothing but a combination of both arts and science. I strongly vouch that 4 C principle as a part of money collection management should be, by all means, monitored by top management personnel namely CEO/CFO, no matter what big the company it is. 4C’s are CARING, CLEVERNESS, CONTINUITY & COOLNESS.
Companies who are strong & financially sound years after years, definitely this activity is closely watched and monitored by this level of personnel only.

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One can expand business beyond expectation but money management is to be articulated in such a fashion that business does not suffer. Precisely that is the reason money spent and money collection are to be always balanced to the extent possible for good health of the business. This can be achieved in 4 simple steps.

Any business encompasses various activities important of those are product marketing, procurement of raw materials / bought out components, producing, human resources managing, finance, house-keeping, debtor / creditor management. The majority of these activities are further narrowed down to selling the products and collection of proceeds (money) evolved from sales transaction. This collection art is a skill generally developed after practicing “4C” management principles. From my experience of past three decades in the line of sales recovery management, I have closely monitored this function in all my employment because if this activity gets lacking, business of the company can suffer miserably and even collapse.

I use to teach and preach my colleagues that “no one should enjoy other’s money unnecessarily”. If my company supply produced goods to our customer on a term of 30 days of realization period, they should be in a position to effect the payment within 30 days + 7 days grace period. Beyond that period, if the payment is not made then the customer in question is enjoying our money. Here comes the “art of collection”.
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To my mind, when I do analyze this collection of money management, I find the combination of 4C principles are very useful. Chronologically, they are CARING, CLEVERNESS, CONTINUITY, COOLNESS.

Caring : During follow up, I make feel my customers that I care for them, they may be having genuine problem and in the process of written letters / personal representations, I always appreciate their not able to make payment. By way of doing this, I also explain them about the awkward position that I will face if the payment is not forthcoming.

Cleverness : While following up, very cleverly and tactfully, I used to find out about the customer’s ingenuity. This is very important exercise because many a time the smell of foul play can be traced if non payment issue lingers beyond the grace period and if not handled with cleverness on the seller’s part; it may lead to serious consequences on part of business health. It is a big experiment and by cleverness, one has to verify about his customer’s ability from all round the corners sometimes by befriendly with customer’s employees to know the real reason of not making payment. Here one thing is to be made very clear that no procrastination technique is to be adopted as in that case, customer can become suspicious and instead of making payment, he will start finding excuses.

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Continuity : Most of the time, I have seen that we miss continuity. This money collection activity is a very painful exercise. It is to be monitored on regular basis and above exercise are to be performed periodically namely on daily basis, weekly basis depending on the nature of the payment and amount involved therein.

Coolness : All of the above activities are to be performed with tremendous degree of coolness. At any given point of time while dealing with collection of money management issue, if coolness is getting dampened then the entire thing will be out of control. Instead of getting payment, the chances of involvement with skirmish will emerge.

From my personal experience, I find that most of the time customers effect payment after a round of 4/5 follow ups barring some exceptional cases where customers are in financial doldrums. Of course, a minor percentage of two or three trouble creator will be always to be handled with utmost care exercising above principles at great length.

I exercised these principles from the beginning of my career, now of course with every passing day, skill is being honed and utilize them for follow up to the highest echelon of customers. I still remember when I was working in a Bangalore (South India) based valve manufacturing company, we were not getting payment for a period of more than 90 days from a
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reputed company locally situated. I started to follow up with a visit and then a letter with very caring words to their operating level personnel. Next letter was addressed to their middle management personnel with clever deployment of words. No result was achieved. I persuaded the matter to their VP level and after a month passed, we got the payment with apology letter from their materials manager. But all through this period of agony, I maintained my coolness.

When I was running my own company, by the name Annie Equipments Private Limited, I was engaged in the trading of screw pumps and used to supply to big chemical plants, mostly in the niche market of Gujarat and Maharashtra of India . In January 1998, my company supplied spares for some other make of screw pumps identical to the one manufactured by Annie Equipment’s principle who was situated at Kanpur, Northern part of India, to a very big reputed chemical company situated at BARODA, Gujarat, India. After supply of the spares duly inspected by customer’s inspecting authority, GRN (Goods Receipt Note) was made to effect the payment. Payment was to be effected within 45 days from GRN but even after my follow up, it was not getting materialized and in this process, nearly nine months were elapsed. I was getting restless because it was not a small amount. When most of my principles of money collection management which I used to use in my employment, failed to achieve the
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desired result in this particular case, I was mortified. Nevertheless, I maintained coolness and made visit to the head of material management of the customer but to my dismay, I found that he wanted to avoid me. After a long persuasion, he met me and started to waffle without touching the main issue of clearance of dues. With utter frustration, I came back to my office, I started to chalk out suitable strategy and drafted a small letter with use of all cleverly crafted soothing words to the managing director of the company with last para saying “I, very submissively, very humbly request your personal intervention in this matter and would you be kind enough to ensure payment of Rs. 10 lacs and save a small businessman with entrepreneurial ability”. Within 24 hours of their receipt of this letter of mine, secretary of managing director of the company personally came down to my office to hand over the cheque and with a request from M.D.’s office to meet him to start business afresh. It was a matter of use of words cleverly. And ultimately without losing my coolness, I managed to get the payment in the early part of the year 1999.

Now-a-days, of course I see other ways around the recovery agents of financial institutions – they simply believe on harshness. They adopt rowdism, hoolism to collect the payment which is not correct to it’s taste as far as business transaction is concerned. If the basics are clearly defined during sales transaction, then ultimate action for collection of money using
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rowdism is not at all envisaged. It is only feasible when the sales transaction is not worked out properly or made in haste just to achieve the sales target by the sales / franchise personnel.

Further, I observe that even we are able to follow these principles as over all guidelines, definitely targeted result will be achieved. Hence, I would like to assert that 4 P of marketing mix as per eminent marketing Guru Philip Kotler is well established and same is the case with 3V of value chain of marketing as per another marketing whizkid Nirmalya Kumar is well acclaimed, and my theory of this 4C for collection of money can be recognized on mass scale of course some statistical analysis supported by datas are to be put forward. I have utilized these 4 C principles in my day to day activities pertaining to money collection
management and get tremendous success.