Food expenses to be excluded from Employees CTC

Cocoguru Team

Company runs an in-house canteen to provide fresh and hygienically prepared food to its employees 3 times a day during working hours. However, the cost of serving food was budgeted and included in an employee’s CTC. Actual expenses were deducted while paying monthly salary. To employees working in the sales team i.e. working on the field, food budget was included in their CTC.

Now, starting December 2021, the company has decided to bear the food cost and not include it in employees CTC. Permanent sales employees will be given a daily allowance. This is good news to employees as their take home component increases.

Why was food expense part of CTC?

Initially, employees were always dissatisfied with the perks offered. They unfairly compared with that of other firms locally and complained. They did not realise the non-cash benefits the company offered like ESI, PF, food at canteen, paid leaves etc. They only compared the take home component, with other firms who didn’t offer any benefits but only cash. Management tried to convince, but employees refused to acknowledge.

Initially, food at the canteen was free and was not included in CTC. Then, employees had issues with the quality of food given. They wasted food carelessly.

To sincerely take care of employees, management used to conduct employee satisfaction surveys to understand what aspects can be improved in its employee engagement. Employees only had negatives, all the positives done were simply taken for granted.

A few employees couldn’t wait till the month could end and wanted payments in advance. While the company itself had taken a huge loan to fund the project and working capital.

It was difficult to satisfy employees and smoothly carry out operations. Management thought enough was enough. Let us do our best and not care about whether it would please the employees. And the following employee policy decisions were taken.

  • All the benefits given would be quantified and included in CTC
  • No salary advance
  • No employee satisfaction surveys
  • Salary revision only after annual appraisal
  • No scope for salary negotiation at all, if you are satisfied stay else quit

Few employees stayed, and got new employees to join with these terms. As employees stayed and performed, policies were made liberal.

  • Start time changed from 8:30 am to 9:00 to reduce working hours by 30 minutes
  • Festival holidays 10 days in a year given company wide was excluded from CTC
  • 1 hour time given in the afternoon to allow employees to attend functions once in a while
  • Though ESI share fell from 6.75% to 4%, CTC was not changed, so take home component increased
  • Compensation given above market standards
  • Though CTC was increased by a certain % every year, the food budget remained constant for the last 7-8 years.
  • Bonus on profitability, given extra every 6 months

Now, we have many employees who are working with us for more than 7 years, are performing well and are taking ownership. So, we will further liberate the policies.

CategoriesEmployees Sales

How employees of earlier generation worked

Couple of days back, our Sales officer from Udupi quit within 2 weeks of joining. Because working for 8 hours a day was not feasible for him. And today, I met Mr. Mahalingeshwara Bhat, Area Sales Manager at Jyothy Labs Ltd at Mangaluru market. He narrated his story and this inspired me to write this post. We met for hardly 5 minutes, still his experience had a lot of wisdom for me.

He is now 55, past the retirement age at his company. He has maintained fitness levels to work in the market after traveling for an hour from Puttur. Working in the market, walking, talking is physically very demanding.

Jyothy Labs may be a billion dollar revenue blue chip company now, but when he joined way back in 1990, it was a small company. He is financially well off now, but at the time of joining his salary was 1,000 per month. His father was a small time cook. He and his company stuck to each other and grew together.

He worked for 32+ years and carried the brand he worked wherever he went. His friends used to call him Ujala Bhatru. He feels proud about it. Employees of these days, feel ashamed to wear work uniforms outside work and they don’t like to associate them with the company/brand outside.

He was assigned with the responsibility to set up the market at Gujarath in early 2000. That is recruit and train sales staff, appoint super stockists and distributors. It is very far from his native place, hardly gets to travel back and meet family. He didn’t even see his newly born son for a couple of months. Still he is happy about the opportunity and responsibility the company has given him. It took him figuratively and literally to places. These days employees consider is outside their scope to travel beyond their office place.

During 2002 Gujarath riots, he was locked at a lodging for 3 days without any food and then the lodging owner provided food prepared at his home. He didn’t get angry with the company for the situation he was in. He understood that it was a external situation that was beyond his or company’s control.

He has grown slowly and steadily within the company and is content about it. Being content with what we have is the real recipe for happiness. He must have seen people much younger to him, with Engineering or MBA degrees from premier institutes getting into higher positions or drawing higher salaries. He must have seen colleagues jumping across companies and getting short term growths. He must have seen various types of bosses during his long career.

He still has the gratitude for the company for providing his daily bread and all the progress he has made in his life. Through he is very right if he thinks, he got his bread for the effort he has put into company’s business.

Though we cannot expect the present generation of employees to work like earlier generation, it is worthwhile to observe how it was earlier.

Disclosure –
Murali M, Operations Head is his wife’s younger brother.
Tharanatha S, ASM was reporting to him 10 years back while he was working at Jyothy.

CategoriesMarketing Sales

Cocoguru is now available at Reliance SMART Stores

We are extremely pleased to announce that Cocoguru coconut oil is now available at Reliance Retail Smart Stores! This Navarathri has been truly auspicious, Godess Durga has showered her blessings on us. For a small local player like us, it is a big breakthrough. Result of building the brand for so many years that Reliance has chosen Cocoguru among plethora of coconut oil brands.

Cocoguru is unique coconut oil brand in coastal Karnataka

  • to have a website explaining all the details about the product and the company
  • to have a major presence in e-commerce platforms like Amazon, flipkart and Meesho
  • to be run by a team of professionals in an organized way
  • to make roasted coconut oil for cooking use
  • to focus on automation and technology in operations
  • to provide purity and quality over lower price
  • to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in workplace and thick vegetation in campus
  • to provide ESI, PF, Health and Accident insurance to employees

When we started Cocoguru coconut oil, many of our well wishers casually asked if the product is available in super market chains like More, Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh etc. It is embarassing to say No, but got away with a few lame excuses that they ask for low price, take long time for payments. 12 years back, we explored to place our coconut oil in super markets at Bengaluru. We learnt that we were no where near to placing it there.

What it takes to get into Modern Trade
The super markets have limited shelf space to keep a variety of brands for a product. They should optimise that space by keeping only a couple of brands that is most demanded. Note that is the most demanded, not the least priced or having the best trade terms. Consumers come and pick the brands they like and less likely the brands the stores push. So a brand makes into the super market shelf, when they are most liked. And that is hard and has no short-cuts. To be liked by consumers, the product should be of good quality at affordable price, have attractive strong packaging consistently.

Challenges for local brands in large supermarket chains
The trade terms for suppliers are highly one-sided and fully in favour of the retailer. Only way for small local brands is to fully agree to it. The super markets ask for a hefty listing fees, display rent, deposit to sell products and long credit periods. This can be financially daunting to the brand.

How did Reliance take interest in Cocoguru?
Reliance opened its Smart Store at Puttur. It started with a bang because of their aggressive pricing, wide assortment and convenience. Cocoguru is a highly popular brand at Puttur and it was not available there. Everyday there used to be many enquiries for Cocoguru at Reliance. Many used to buy all grocery items from Reliance and buy coconut oil from outside wherever Cocoguru was available. The store manager repeatedly informed the centralised purchase manager. We pitched them a couple of times. But they were content with the 2 brands they were keeping. One is a national brand, but not favoured in this region, priced at a premium. Other is a local brand, priced very low, unprofessional in dealings, poor on quality, irregular in supply. So market need and gaps with existing suppliers made Reliance look at Cocoguru.

Wholesale vs Super Market
Many a times, brands go all the way to please the wholesalers to buy in bulk. But at Cocoguru, we look to please the consumers. Consumers demand for Cocoguru and retailer is left with no option but to stock our product. Our biggest buyer is not any wholesaler, but a standalone super market here at Puttur. At super market, consumers can freely pick the product they like without much influence from the retailer.

So, Cocoguru being available at Reliance Smart is a win-win situation for local consumers, brand Cocoguru and Reliance Retail. This should be the first of many more placements at bigger supermarket chains. Cocoguru should soon be available at and consumers will be able to get door delivery in local area at much lower costs compared to Amazon and Flipkart.

CategoriesCoconut Oil

Why is Cocoguru coconut oil yellow in colour?

Rotary Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
Rotary Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
Expeller Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
Expeller Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
Roasted Coconut Oil
Roasted Coconut Oil

Why is your coconut oil yellow in colour? It is not clear white, so not pure

People say this out of their experience and perception about coconut oil. They are not to be blamed because they have seen that oil from good quality copra is white and that from lower quality copra is yellow. Our coconut oil is yellow not because of poorer quality copra but because of a different process. With improvements in oil extraction technology and consumer demand for packaged coconut oil, the coconut oil colour also may undergo a change. Though clear transparent white colour looks better, for want of better quality of coconut oil, the colour may have to suffer.

Manufacturing process of clear white colour coconut oil

Copra with 7-8% moisture is crushed in a rotary machine where lower heat is generated through friction, the oil is then kept in a barrel to allow settling of sediments to take out clear white coconut oil. This is the traditional method of coconut oil extraction and at small scale still followed in villages.

The problems here are

  • Copra is high on moisture and resulting oil will get rancid fast
  • Filtering through sedimentation takes a minimum of 7 days

A superior method where above problems are solved is to dry copra to 3% moisture, extract oil from copra through expeller and filter oil online through filter press immediately.

But the resulting oil turns slightly yellow because of

1. Copra drying by application of hot air at 80 degrees

2. Higher friction and heat during oil extraction in expeller

It has better aroma and longer shelf life.

We go a step further that is the roast the copra pieces after drying but before oil extraction. This further enhances the aroma and shelf life but oil becomes more yellow in colour. There is not loss of any nutrients as it is popularly believed, it is still great for cooking. The great aroma is not because of any perfumes added but what comes out of copra through roasting. Increased shelf life is not because of any preservatives or chemicals but because of complete moisture removal from copra.

Effect of roasting can be understood by comparing the taste of ground nuts or cashew nuts before and after roasting. We eat rice, wheat and vegetables after cooking/heating not without.

There may be many traditionalists who say the contrary is true. White colour oil is better than yellow colour oil. We, respect their view and understand why they hold to their view. That is why we have cold press coconut oil also. As a brand, we believe roasted coconut oil is better.


Retailer Objection – No response

We looked into the common objections by retailers to salesman. The toughest objection to crack is when retailer doesn’t respond. He just shakes his head and moves on. Or before you say anything, he says that he has stock and is not interested to buy. Here, we will look into how to handle this.

Objective in this situation is to not sell but to strike a conversation, build a connection, showcase the product and then see if anything can be worked out later.

“Sir, I understand that you are not interested in buying our products at this point. That is fine but I just want to showcase our products. We are doing a lot of marketing activities, our products are getting popular among consumers and there are good chances that you may get a few enquiries. The information I share with you may help you to understand your customer needs better and when you want to buy, we will be more than happy to supply to you.”

Introduce about you the salesman, name, native, past experience, when he joined the present company. Seek the shop keepers support in giving advices, references, consumer preferences etc. Share/exchange business cards.

At this point when the retailer is not under pressure to buy, and when the salesman is knowledgeable, simple and capable of understanding retailer’s concerns, he will open up. Then, products can be introduced, prices can be shared, supply mechanism, frequency can be discussed.

No matter, how disinterested the retailer will be. There is always a chance that he will face issue with present supplier in terms of quality, pricing, supply and terms. If we are able to build a relationship with him, we will be the first alternative that will come to his mind. Knowing that he has a solid alternative in us, he will start pressurising the present supplier for better deals.

A way to strike a conversation would be to keenly observe the shop. All retailers like to publicly display their say political affiliations, favourite God/Godess, owner’s car, their values, likings. One can talk about it. Each shop has its own strengths like cleanliness of the store, reputation in the locality, heritage, variety of items available, competitive pricing, size of business. Salesman can observe and appreciate the retailer and talk more about it. Also, they can discuss among their common contacts.

Eventually, probe more about the nature of business, how the retailer has grown the business, family connections, native place, his interests etc. Then, get into the demand for coconut oil in his shop. What do consumers ask for quality, price, brand etc What does he like about his present supplier, would he use it at his home?

All along the way, the salesman must be attentive, never look at his cell phone, read between the lines, be patient when the retailer is doing something else, keep eye contact, nod, stay in the topic. Never lie whenever he talks about himself, company, products, competitors, market. Keep all the information handy for ready presentation. Another point that is mentioned separately is “don’t attempt to sell”.

Before leaving, inform the retailer that the distributor or sales van would visit him for enquiring. Also, salesman would visit him say next week same day. Ask him if he needs any more information that he has to work on before coming next time.