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Respect customers, that’s the survival secret – G. Kannan, Founder, GK Salon

Murali D
30th Aug 2013
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GKannan
At a busy intersection in Chennai, where St. Mary’s Road connects with Ramakrishna Mutt Road, is G. Kannan’s shop, ‘GK Gents Hair Saloon & Beauty Parlour A/c’. Standing outside, on the platform, just around the start of the morning peak hour traffic, we get talking.

GK narrates in Tamil how he started in 1982, with the help of a friend. Though he grew to have four outlets, he had to roll back to one. His plans now are to branch out to Thiruporur, a panchayat town in Kancheepuram district.

What are the problems you face in your entrepreneurship, I ask him. “Rowdies,” he says. “Some of them would come and sit inside the shop. Facing that situation is difficult.” Despite such challenges, GK acknowledges the support he gets from his regular customers, and attributes his business’ growth to the service he gives to customers.

How has he survived for more than thirty years, in a market that has attracted many organised chains of salons? What is the secret? Respect given to customers, says GK. That’s a valuable takeaway for many of today’s entrepreneurs, who may focus so much on putting in place efficient systems and processes in their enterprises that they may not notice human touch vanishing.

To readers from the finance field, an important feedback that comes through GK is the lack of support for entrepreneurs like him. He borrows from the moneylenders, who charge a hefty rate of interest. How much, I ask him. “Suppose I borrow Rs 10,000, he will deduct Rs 1,000. And I have to repay Rs 100 daily for 100 days,” GK explains.

What does he have to say to wannabe entrepreneurs? There is good opportunity in his sector, with the growth of the city, says GK.


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