Monday, 23 April 2012

The Ignorant Branch Manager

A vibrantly energised looking sales team in a modern day corporation to face the ever challenging market

Sales Executive Aaron Sham rushed to his heavy machinery office an elated and excited man. He was rather exhilarated as he had successfully secured an order for 6 units of commercial trucks from an industrial client; it was an unyielding effort and toil as he had worked so hard now that it bore fruit finally. Knocking on the glass window of the branch manager’s office, he rushed in and placed the agreement to purchase order on his manager’s desk. Jimmy Tai, the 54 plus year old branch manager raised his head slowly from the newspaper he was browsing, said nonchalantly: “What’s up, Sham?”

Sometimes manager at the helm needs to be kicked at the ass so as to remind him the paradigm  of change

The young sales executive was in an immense spirit to tell his manager how difficult it was for him to wrestle the order of half a dozen trucks from other competitor brand names. Telling his senior that everything was in order as the pricing and discount pattern given was all accorded to company’s stringent guidelines; besides the company had the ready stocks of trucks to deliver. “Let me go through the documents and I’ll let you know regarding the vehicles’ allocation.” The branch manger answered coyly.

In the late afternoon before Aaron left the office for home, Jimmy Tai the sluggish and slow moving manager told him the bad news: “We can’t proceed with the order you collected. There will be no delivery unless the customer pays upfront before the vehicles’ registration.” A stunned Aaron Sham’s response was inexplicable as he turned pale on his facial expression. Still he managed to say what he wanted to tell; “but Boss, The customer is an internationally well-known corporation, specialized in sports goods. Their turnover is well above multi-billion every year. I have attached their company’s memorandum and article together with the agreement to purchase documents. Their brand name is Wilson Sporting Goods. I am sure payments will be ready within two weeks after the delivery date.” “Forget about the order, go look for new clients.” Jimmy Tai was adamant with his authority to overrule. “I have heard of Wilson Parking, not Wilson Sporting Goods. Unless you have the collection of the full purchase amount, otherwise I deem the order is your futile effort, null and void!” It seemed that recalcitrant Jimmy Tai was out to torment his sales staff.

 A sales consultant tried diligently to gain a sales over the phone

The next day Aaron Sham called the senior finance director of Wilson Sporting Goods Inc. Mr. Balan Maniam to tell him the bad news.

 “Well, your company refused to accept our good intention to have a business deal, there are scores of truck dealers out there very eager to sell to us. But don’t forget, the purchase order was issued and signed by me,  and your side wanted to back out unilaterally. We’ll proceed to sue your famous company for a hefty sum……” Obviously Mr Balan Maniam was not bemused.

"But Mr. Balan, you couldn't sue us as no money was paid when I collected the P.O. from you."

"Were you just born yesterday?" An angry Balan refuted and continued to say. "The terms and clauses are all stated in detail in the P.O. It is clearly stated there that payments will be ready within 30 days after delivery. By asking us to pay upfront before delivery is insinuating that we are a bad paymaster, and that equal a slander and an insult! Your company will hear from our solicitor pretty soon!"

A helpless Aaron was almost lost of words; but he came up with an amiable solution to save the sales. He gave Balan the direct line number of his senior general manager Mr. Teo Seng Leong. In the afternoon the two corporate big guns exchanged greetings and an agreement was reached over the phone. Teo SL promised to have the 6 trucks delivered to Wilson Sporting Goods Inc within a week, and Balan promptly agreed to have the cheque signed within a week after the delivery. Teo told Balan: “I got pissed off with that stubborn old mule Tai who’d never played any kind of sports to the point that he’d never heard of Wilson Sporting! He'd not kept up with time. For me, I played squash, tennis and golf. I am an avid customer of Wilson!” Soon after two of them were chatting like old buddies, with promise of meeting at the city’s premier golf club for a round of game.

                              A new truck waiting to be delivered

One week after the commercial trucks were delivered, general manager Teo invited Balan Maniam of Wilson Sporting Goods, and few of his staff to have a lunch at his HQ building’s penthouse restaurant. Aaron Sham and his lackluster, slow-loris like branch manager Jimmy Tai were told to be present too. At the lunch table Balan and Teo were seen talking to each other emphatically like they regretted for not met earlier. A lethargic Jimmy Tai sat quietly munching his lunch, pondering about what to say, if he ever were spoken to. He decided to play dumb all along to save his face and to avoid further embarrassment.

         Trucks lining up, awaiting order to go for long distance delivery

The next day Jimmy Tai’s branch was billed for $700, being the cost of hosting the lunch, as a token to apologize to Wilson Sporting Goods Inc, under the order of the GM, Mr. Teo SL. Apart from this he also got an earful from the GM for being arrogant and ignorant, haughty and non-negotiable, a complete disregard for public relation in an business entity. He was given a verbal bashing by GM Teo who stopped short of presenting him a letter of reprimand, as Teo knew well the older man was due for retirement. On his 55th birthday, Jimmy Tai had a sending off meeting at the head office where he bid Teo the GM goodbye. Tai was there to collect his gratuity cheque too. His application for an extension of 2 years was rejected flatly by the GM earlier.  Teo tapped his pen repeatedly on his desk, making disturbing noises, he said to himself: "Ha, his Tai chap wanted another two years at the helm of his branch, fat hope!" Teo was displeased with Jimmy Tai’s boasting that he was the senior GM with Wearne Brothers Co Ltd., another motoring company, before he joined their concern, more than 10 years ago. In actual fact, he was out of touch with the actual market situation. Teo SL continued with his deep thought, “Heck, if he had been a senior GM, then how would he accept a job here as a branch manager, and where would I stand? This hopeless, incorrigible liar!”

                       A meaningful lunch to bid a colleague farewell

A true story  with  the names of characters changed .
Alan CY Kok


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