Buying a Maruti product in India is usually equivalent to buying some milk from your local dairy, a no-brainer. But, sometimes what you hear isn’t entirely true and there are certain rare exceptions to this ‘vanilla’ experience. That is exactly the case with Shivam Autozone, a Maruti Suzuki dealership which goes out of its way to offer more to its custiomers. We, at Motoroids, were curious to seek the whole story behind this rather interesting book. To do this, a couple of us decided to know the thought process of the people behind this establishment in Kandiwali West, Mumbai. Spread across an area of almost 20,000 sq.ft. and encompassing two stories with facilities ranging from accessories zone, new cars display, pre-owned cars display and a simulator for the Maruti Driving School, Shivam Autozone is one of the largest auto showrooms in Mumbai, across car brands.
Bringing fresh new ideas, consistent processes and laying stress on quality of service is the man at the helm of this huge dealership. Rishi Goel, the Director& C.E.O at Shivam Autozone India Pvt. Ltd is the force behind making Shivam Autozone much more than ‘just another Maruti Suzuki’ franchisee. A Post Graduate from IIT-Kanpur, Rishi has worked with OEMs like Maruti Suzuki, General Motors and Audi India for more than 18 years. His expertise ranges from several aspects of sales and marketing to dealer development, thus giving him a very strong understanding of the automotive business. He likes innovating and setting new benchmarks. A strong believer in team work, Rishi has a positive perspective in life and expects the same vibrancy to reflect in his team.
He aspires to make Shivam Maruti the most preferred automobile dealership in Mumbai both from customers’ as well as employees’ perspective. His rich experience with auto industry has majorly contributed to the success of Shivam Autozone. Not only is he managing Mumbai’s largest Showroom but he’s also changing the perception of the old car showroom in customer’s mind. Here we have some excerpts from a freewheeling interview with Mr Goel.
Images and transcript : Suraj Vishwanathan
Motoroids: Usual Maruti Suzuki outlets are nothing too special, they’re quite plain-jane. How’s Shivam different?
Rishi Goel: Shivam Autozone follows the motto of ‘Live the change’ and every employee feels quite strongly about this. Our recruitment process is very strong and well-structured. Our single-most important agenda, is a customer-centric approach to work. Everyone here becomes part of one family and we all think alike. And all of this is part of the software front of things, the next is hardware which includes the building structure and the facility in itself. I think you will appreciate the fact that we have created one of the best, and I am proud to call it, the best Maruti dealership in western India. Having a showroom which sprawls across almost 20,000 sq.ft in a busy city like Mumbai, is a big deal. And it’s important because when a customer comes to the showroom, he/she should experience not only Shivam, but also the brand.
Motoroids: Shivam represents a brand (Maruti) which is already quite popular. For example with the launch of the Maruti Ciaz, you know that there are cases where the customer hasn’t even laid their eyes on the car in flesh, and they’ve already booked it. In that sort of a scenario, its generally easy to get lazy about things. However, you’ve taken the extra effort and gone that bit further to make sure you put the best across for the discerning customer. What’s the motivation behind that proactive approach?
Rishi Goel: What you said about Maruti Suzuki is true. Look, we are just a three year old dealership which started in September (2011). But in these times where the customer is quite savvy, and just because one is buying a Maruti product, doesn’t imply they shouldn’t be offered a good experience. And Maruti has started to tip-toe its way into different segments, unlike before. Instead of sticking with only entry-level hatchbacks, the company now also sells cars like the Ciaz. And there will be many more newer cars coming into the market in the future. So most customers know what they want and you’ve to hear them out and treat them the best way you can. After all, customer is the boss. He is the king. If they aren’t happy with our service, they’re never coming back. So delight them with your service and they deserve that. My customer is my brand ambassador. Advertisements and schemes alone aren’t enough.
Motoroids: At Shivam, are there any core values that you stick by which no one else in the market replicates?
Rishi Goel: As I said earlier, we always see the whole situation from the customer’s point of view. This, I believe, separates us from the rest. And I also believe in transparency, which is very crucial and quite rare these days. I have made it clear to the whole team that you have to be transparent with the customer. Processes at Maruti Suzuki has made everything, from the dealership to the supply chain etc very simple and straightforward for all of us at Shivam. And also, a motivated employee results in a motivated customer. The management at Shivam makes sure that all our employees are happy. This, I feel, makes us stand out amongst the crowd.”
Motoroids: Service is a concern these days as people usually don’t have the time for it. How does Shivam ensure the quality and quickness of service ?
Rishi Goel: When we talk about transparency and integrity of the company, it reflects throughout and services is no different. Our servicing facility is a good impression of how we maintain our standards, right from the hygiene levels to the customer greeting etc. Then, for people who need their cars quicker, we have Express Service which gets the car serviced and ready in 2 hours. There’s pick-up and drop service, too. All of these are for our customers. And we have also started double-shift which starts at 7 am and ends only at 10 pm.
Motoroids: So it is about moving with the times. The world has moved onto 24-hour schedules, as opposed to India’s regular 9 am-5 pm schedules. Because Shivam’s services are available till 10 pm, many customers benefit from this.
Rishi Goel: Absolutely. We are just contemplating starting a night-shift, if we see that there is a demand for it. And I believe that after our double-shift experience, we will take forward this night-shift idea. We have to adjust as per the customer’s requirements and that holds true, especially in a place like Mumbai.
Motoroids: And customers who bought their Maruti from elsewhere, will notice the fact that Shivam offers them better service than anyone else. This will draw in more customers, right?
Rishi Goel: Indeed. If our customers want us to service their cars at their residence, we can do that with our Mobile Service Van. After seeking the customer’s appointment, we will drop by at their place and service their car there, itself. Currently, we service almost 5 cars daily using this Mobile Service Van. And this service is not peculiar to just Shivam, but it’s a common Maruti trait. But the degree of implementation varies and we are doing a good job at that.
Motoroids: So what is the way forward from here?
Rishi Goel: After commencing operations 3 years back, we are now at an average sales of 300 cars per month and we are slowly gaining our market share. We recently opened an outlet in Talasari, which lies at the border between Maharashtra and Gujarat. And similar to this (Kandivali, Mumbai) outlet, it has everything from new cars to used cars and sales of accessories etc. all under one roof. And we need to pay heed to our rural customers as well as that market has good potential for growth. We will also be opening another workshop somewhere in the western suburbs of Mumbai, like in Goreagon or Oshiwara in the next 3-6 months.
Motoroids: Maruti had commenced the Maruti Driving School initiative. This includes a simulator, do you guys have one, too?
Rishi Goel: Yes, we do. In fact, it’s all under one roof. A customer could come to us at Shivam, learn to drive a car the correct way and then buy a car from us. The customer can also exchange his/her old car for a new car, buy a pre-owned Maruti car, buy accessories from us, purchase warranty plans or even renew their car insurance. As I said, this is a one-stop shop for anyone.
Motoroids: Do you modify cars at Shivam?
Rishi Goel: Yes, we do modify cars here and they are sold as ‘Shivam Signature Editions’. These are customised according to our understanding of what the customer wants.
Motoroids: So are these changes merely cosmetic or do you have mechanical alterations as well?
Rishi Goel: These are mainly cosmetic tweaks as we don’t want to interfere with car’s original mechanical components. It’s largely limited to the appearance of the car where it might end up looking more sporty. It’s mostly just accessorising the car.
Motoroids: Technology has changed the way a customer acquaints himself with the happenings within the industry. What’s your take on that?
Rishi Goel: It’s relevant because customers these days go on the internet and compare various versions of a car to know what features each car has to offer over the other. So we have quite a lot to learn from that and we have to be ready to do what the customer wants from us.
Motoroids: If we may make a suggestion, whenever a customer comes to Shivam for his/her new car purchase, apart from just giving them a good buying experience, can you also hand them a pamphlet which includes a note which asks them to give way to an emergency vehicle? Indian drivers aren’t the most caring ones on the road, as you may know. Any initiative that makes customers coming to Shivam, a better driver. This will go to make Shivam a more reputed brand than it already is.
Rishi Goel: Yes, in fact that is a good suggestion and I will make a note of it. We do something of that sort now when we train corporate drivers who ferry people at call-centres and BPOs. But it can also turn out to be a good CSR activity for us. We will take this forward immediately.
Motoroids: Thank you for giving us your valuable time and giving us this opportunity to know more about Shivam Autozone.