Add A Dash Of Inefficiency

This was a store that besides selling provisions in standard-weight packages, also sold grains in the loose. And customers were always backing up at the counter selling loose grains. It caught the eye of the efficiency expert from the head-office in one of his periodic visits. He decided to work on this one.

He observed the man at the counter, graying in his fifties, taking a long time to measure out grains on the scale. He was always short on his first attempt and getting it right on the third attempt, often on the fourth, adding a little at a time. This was always the pattern.

It was a little strange since the scoops were precisely sized. For instance, to weigh out one kilogram of wheat, the scoop in a fill would draw a kilogram and a little more for fine adjustment. Obviously he was not scooping a full fill on the first attempt and so goes back for the second, the third and the fourth. The expert decided to have a little lunch-time chat with the man:

‘I’m sure the line-up at your counter must be causing you concern as much as it does to us?’

‘Yes,’ turning a little coy, ‘they want to buy when I’m around.’

‘Me thinks it may not be what you think.’

‘You can check it up, if you wish.’

‘It could be that you taking longer to service a customer.’ The expert continued: ’You’re not filling the scoop to the full as enjoined in your training. If you did there would be fewer tries.’

‘I recall that bit in the training, but learnt something different on the floor.’

‘And what would that be?’

‘When I do what I do, folks thinks I’m being careful about what they’re getting. Going short and adding grains goes much better with them than going in excess and removing grains thereafter. When I add grains, I’m for them and when I remove, I’m the store.’

On that day, a piece of inefficient practice was written into the instruction manual for the men in the store.



11 Responses to Add A Dash Of Inefficiency

  1. gopal says:

    Dear Raghu,

    A lovely story ,with a lesson on customer satisfaction and how to work towards it thru simple positive looking steps ,
    nice one


  2. Buvana says:

    So relevant!


  3. anantharaman m says:

    great insight. Anice Diwali gift.


  4. S R Kannan says:

    I am sure Mom and pop stores know more such tricks to beat the supermarket.


  5. lynnette-net says:

    Love the details!


  6. Nithya says:

    Nice, positive!


  7. sunil sharma says:

    Superb, i loved the human element vs efficiency comparison….. reminds me of a book ” What they don’t teach you at Harvard”…


  8. Bharat P. Shah says:

    Nice one Raghu!!!
    I am sure you will discover many more such tricks from the kirana shop attendants and various roadside vendors be it of vegetables or any other. All of them will have happy customers who keep coming back to them for days, weeks, months, years !!!


  9. rajinani says:

    Additionally, the customers in this queue are people who like personal attention of Shopkeepar. So, with such way of working the Sales person interact for few more minutes than usual quick sale. His talking with his client and personal attention bring back those customers to his counter. Otherwise, they had option of picking up packages. Overall, its a good observation that a particular bread of customers comes back with inefficiency of the store.

    Great writing Raghu as always. Happy Diwali.


  10. S Basu says:

    cunning salesman 🙂

    he might have shined as politician.


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