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Top 5 Street Vendors Management Skills Not Practiced in Management Schools

Kiran Khannas is a nuclear engineer and an enthusiastic blogger.

Image by Rodrigo de la torre from Pixabay

Image by Rodrigo de la torre from Pixabay

Close to 50% of India’s GDP contribution is by an unorganized sector. The unorganized sector uses close to around 80% of the total employment.

They perform better than the tier- 1 company registered in the stock exchange in all the measurement metrics. The return on investment in the business through pavements exceeds many times from the shops in the mall.

The pavement delivers a much better rate of return per square foot area than the branded showroom.

Creating a New Context

Many CEOs don’t have the courage, or see the need, to throw away the context they have created.

The book stack sold at parking signal for 1 minute is the best marketing lesson we all need to learn. Within 1 minute of the red light, the sellers have to impress the client, make the selling pitch, and crack the deal.

If the sale does not convert within the next 10 minutes, they will stack the book differently to see if they can impress. They change the context within 10 minutes, whereas CEOs will take months to approve a new sale pitch.

Within seconds, they have to decide the discount offer of 20% to 50% range, doing the client’s face reading, unlike the organized sector, where the discount’s decision has to travel all the way to the board of director even for a 5% discount. And by the time the judgment comes, they have already lost the opportunity.

Within a few seconds, the vendor has to make or break the deal with a count of 60 seconds on the red signal. If they crack at the last second and the green movement turns on, they have to make a sprint with the car to deliver, do all the counting, and give the return money. Think of the anxiety, stress, and pressure they are operating every other signal light.

Within seconds they have to find the right customer matching to the product they are selling. If they are selling toys, they will look for the kids in the car, or if red roses, they will look for the right audience.

I think management schools seldom give 60 seconds of practice lessons to make a deal.

The beauty of this skill is they have to do this every 5–10 minutes, and their time starts at the sight of the traffic signal. They have to keep the book’s stack of the book latest and the greatest without having access to the internet or reading a management book.

The Big USP of the street vendors is being approachable. They approach potential customers from a reasonable distance. Street vendor does not wait. Instead, they know the power of persuasion.

If any author wants to rate his book, go to the red light stack and see his book reflect in the first ten books.

They can carry at the most ten book stacks and carefully make the book’s selection successful.

Every day they revisit the context and change the selling canvas.

These illiterate sellers have no formal education and learn art by observing and understanding the street’s secret.
These seller doesn’t spend hours in the boardroom to learn and make a strategy for launching the new product.
Do any of the management institutes teach us the skills to make a deal in 1 minute straight?
Sitting and observing selling art from the street vendors is an inexpensive way of learning management lessons.

Transformation Change

Similar examples are from fashion street in Mumbai; the shop has to keep innovating the new trends and make all the dress alterations in 5 -10 minutes to deliver. They have attended none live fashion show or know the latest brands.

Observation is so intense in these vendors; they mimic the best design by just looking at the fashion on billboards or fashion books on the pavement booksellers. They do not bring in incremental change, but they create what isn’t. Despite that, they have no formal training from the fashion schools, making a maximum profit from there per square foot shop.

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They launch the product simultaneously at all the street shops on the same day. Unsold inventory has to return to the distributor. They manage the cash flow, and there is no SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) or the Microsoft outlook.

They base all transactions on trust. These happen seamlessly, and they reconcile the balance sheet on the same day. One of the heftiest advantages of this unorganized sector is equal opportunity employer, and whether you are a man, woman, transgender, any age, handicapped, nothing matters as long as you get the results.

Incremental change isn’t enough for many companies today. They don’t need to change what is; they need to create what isn’t.

In the morning, they make the shop and dismantles it at night. They have to produce a new design at night and bring it to the show the next morning.
They have no formal training or master’s training to learn supply chain. They transform every day to compete, unlike the organized sector, which takes months to change.

Transformation change these street vendors show each day without spending hours in the boardroom, building transformational strategies.

Kodak, IBM, American Express, and General Motors have sacked their CEO’s in the past. All were capable executives with impressive track records. All had promised turnarounds, and all had spearheaded downsizing, de-layering, and re-engineering programs in vigorous efforts to deliver those promises.

Most of these efforts lowered costs, increased productivity, and improved profitability. Yet despite this frenzy of activity, their boards felt compelled to act.

These CEOs are missing because such incremental change is not enough for many companies today; instead, they need to look at fashion steer vendors’ flexibility and agility for a complete transformation.


I will give you another example of coffee sellers in the street. You will get excellent coffee for Rs 10 (~10 cents). They keep Rs 4 (~0.5 cents), and the rest they distribute in the ecosystem and the supply chain. Whereas if you take the same coffee at the Costa Coffee/ branded shop, they take anywhere between Rs 200 to 250 (2.8 to 3.5$US).

Almost 200 times the cost, but in this case, the brand keeps most of the profit, and only a minimal amount reaches the ecosystem.
You can see the extend of entrepreneurship happening in the streets than in the Silicon Valley of New York.

Incredible Planning

Look at the planning happening in the street. For every festive, street vendors will have a unique collection- National flag on Independence Day, Divas in Diwali, and Christmas Santa. Imagine the detailing of the planning they must do to get the latest on the street on a particular day of the year.

I will give you another live example of my newspaper vendor whose day starts at 3 am and pick the newspaper from the distributor van. Insert advertisement leaflets to some 4oo+ newspaper within 20 mins and ride his bicycle to 400+ flats.

They usually develop a terrific Mind Power without attending a Master Class of Jim Kwik of MindValley.

They have a fantastic delivery model, and he throws the newspaper directly to the customer's balcony before they get up for their morning tea. He does that before 6 am, to have customer satisfaction.

They wind up his first business by 8 am and getting ready for his eatery stall for lunch at 12 pm. Every day of the year, he maintains this model, taking no casual leave from his business.

And in the evening, they set up a shop near a boys hostel, which runs late in the night. All their three businesses are being managed entirely by the family members.
They are so dynamic that they keep changing the location as per the demand. If it’s a vacation time in the boy’s hostel, they will target space next to the liquor shop.

They planned this perfectly, maintaining the supply chain.

Connect With Your Customers

Only selling your product or service should not be enough. Focus on creating repetitive clients. These street vendors are aware of this. They know how to talk their way into convincing the customer to come to their shop again. That is the proper sales technique, which is not followed in the big branded shop, where there is a direct connection between you and the product.

This process makes no connection with the shop, but only with the product. They do not link the customer to the shop, but to work, they can buy this from any other shop, unlike the street vendor connecting with the customer.
They never give up. Street Vendors work tirelessly with perseverance to convince the customer.

The persistence is no way lesser than Apple Steve Jobs -knowing what he wanted and not giving up.

In Conclusion

Observing and learning from small things can make a big difference in your attitude, idea ideation, new startup, and implementation.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 kiran khannas

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