People skills of a butcher

Today, as my mom planned to cook Biryani for all us, I got up early to go to a butcher to buy some meat. In India it’s not like the meat is sold in a store. There is your traditional butcher and usually there is one in your neighborhood. The meat is usually certified by some Govt. organization and almost all of the time it’s Halal – even though it doesn’t make a big difference for me.

At 7:00AM, the place is packed. As usual in India we don’t have any lines or the concept of patience. Everyone there just falls on top of the butcher and is demanding meat.

Mohan bhai, when are you going to give me my 1/2kg meat? Should I just leave?“, threatens one guy. Another guy, who is chewing pan and stinks says in his loud voice (in the process almost spat on me) “Mohan bhai, take the money first. I have calculated it to be 240Rs and give me the meat“. Employing the age old trick of paying first and thereby inducing guilt in the butcher so that he can get served first. There were couple of old people who stood in silence. You know by their silence that they are very well known by the butcher and also these are the people who buy large amount of meat.

In all this chaos – I was amused to see how the butcher – Mohan manages the whole thing. His public skills are amazing. No matter who asks or yells, he talks in a hurried but nice tone. He calls everyone “bhai”(brother) and treats them as the most important person for his business. He has 4 people under him working and he reveals that he is paying them 300Rs (7$) per day wages. He puts it out as if he has to pay them a lot of money. Playing the guilt card when some guy refuses to pay the price quoted for meat. There is not fixed price. The price is fixed by Mohan bhai and usually it’s cheaper on Sundays as there would be at least 1000 people who buy it from him. 1 kg (2.2pounds) is Rs.180(4.5$), probably cheaper than US. But he is going to sell at least 500kg today – earning more than what a Software guy can earn in 2 weeks.

I got out of my thoughts, as Mohan asked me – “Kitta hona bhai?” (How much brother?). I said, “2 kgs”. As he prepared the meat for me, I was holding back the falling of at least 5 people on top of me. One guy almost poking under my armpit.

The lesson one could learn from Mohan bhai is – Treat your customers with praise and love even though they yell at you. But be assertive when it comes to price.

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