The trick of running a business in Manipal is that you should have a blend of zen and humor in you. The zen will not allow you to lose your patience and the humor won’t offend the guest.
Manipal has a very young population who like to have fun , sometimes at your cost.
Yesterday as I was updating my site, a young student came online and started chatting. Nothing unusual about it. They keep enquiring about the variety of pizzas, the price, the new products etc. But this boy had an unusual demand.
“ Do you sell condoms”. I am sure he was bored and was killing time. In all seriousness I directed him to the nearest pharmacy but warned him to check out that his girl friend’s father doesnt own the store!
Another time another enthusisatic customer chatted with me for quite a while enquiring about almost all products. Then he asked if we deliver. “ Yes we do.”
“ Do you charge anything for it?” “No it’s absolutely free.”
Satisfied, he ordered. When he gave his address, It sounded strange. Then i asked him if it was in Udupi. This time it was his turn to get baffled. He didnt know where was Udupi. Then I again asked him what did he do. He was a student of Manipal university. I asked him if he stayed in the hostel. He did. KC? Did it ring a bell. He said no. Then suddenly it dawned on me. I asked him which Manipal University? Sikkim.
But to be fair to him, our call center has taken orders from Mysore and Chennai too.
With students, finance is always an issue. They are generally strapped at the end of the month. Many have their credit cards declined. We are quite generous and allow them to pay later. We never bothered to even take their ID cards or phone numbers. But to their credit, not once have we been cheated.
Last week , a couple came and the same problem occured. They promised us to come back. Suddenly at closing time we realised that he hadnt turned up. I was a bit disappointed but not disheartened. My faith was still in tact.
Well this story had a happy ending. The boy came back next day and paid up. His vehicle had broken down. Our faith restored, we were back to status quo.
Our store now is almost THE Place for Birthday parties. We take a token advance before doing the decorations and arrangements. We have at least two to three parties per week. Generally the bookings are not cancelled. But in the last week, after making all the arrangements, these guys thought that pub hopping would be a better idea ( not that I disagree!). But they were gentlemen and offered to compensate for our time and decorations. But I didnt have the heart to charge him on his birthday. My staff was furious. After all moving the furniture and doing the decoration does take some effort. I had to pacify them and order fish for all in the evening.
Whatever the perception is , my personal experience about the students of Manipal is that they are very well behaved and polite. I am a sucker for good manners and it makes me proud to see them smile and thank the usher or the staff; simple things that bring a smile on the face of the staff who really work hard.
I religiously read the comment cards everyday. There is a column which asks what they like about the store. Most mention the ambience and the pleasant staff. I may be a bit vain and take the credit for it. But that wouldnt be fair.
I feel the credit must go to the guests. Imagine if they were grumpy and ill mannered!
It would be hard for even a die hard professional to keep a smiling face!