In the section of the Words and Wheels, we chat with one of the most interesting luxury car company, Volvo India, dealer Ajai Bathija on their recent achievements and get insight what is it like to be an automotive dealer. Given today’s tough times, every changing demands and conditions along with a volatile market.
Q1: What steps do you take to maintain profitability at your dealership, considering that sales volumes are not high in the luxury car segment?
Ajai Bathija: Sales volume is not high in absolute numbers, but considering the niche market luxury cars have in India the numbers are reasonable. What’s encouraging is more people are buying luxury cars than ever before. As a result, the share of luxury cars in the overall car sales has reached close to 2% now. The share is set to rise further as more people are inclined to buy luxury cars, which are loaded with safety and infotainment features, than a regular car.
Last year was challenging as people postponed their buying decision due to weak market sentiment and the shift to BS-VI technology. The impact was prominent in the luxury automobile market, especially in Mumbai.Fortunately, we at KIFS Volvo Cars continued to retain and gain market share.
In a market where dealerships are facing pressures of high cost and lower profitability, one has to look at other lines of revenue to help sustain profitability. Right from marketing insurance, auto finance, accessories, extended warranty, service packages to lifestyle products one has to focus on ‘Customer Experience’ and ‘Customer Excellence’.
My experience in banking, financial services, media, advertising and retail helped me look at things differently, question set trends and ways of doing business in the automobile industry and keep a clear view of key business drivers which help deliver profitability and growth.
Q2: Volvo has a slightly different marketing approach towards most things in India than its competitors. Do your sales person find it easier to convey that and convert customers?
Ajai Bathija: In my opinion, every company has its own strategic approach towards marketing. And the approach is effective as long as it helps build your brand, sell more cars, and build a connection with the customer. I think our approach has helped us build a strong connection with our customers. With our focus on ‘Customer Experience’ and ‘Customer Excellence’, many of our customers have become our brand ambassadors. We have created a distinct image based on values and people respect us for that. We have aligned our internal and external communication to enable efficient customer acquisition. Our sales personnel understand our brand, its values and amplify the same in their conversation with customers.
Q3: Congratulations on the achievement at FADA! Any tips/advice or statement you would like to share with fellow dealer partners and manufacturers in these tough times?
Ajai Bathija: Many thanks for your wishes.This is the first time a Volvo dealership has participated in the prestigious FADA Awards and won. We are delighted to receive the recognition. The jury consisted of leading luminaries from the automobile industry and the entire judging process was a great experience. The jury very impartial, very logical and focused on what we are doing at our dealership to make a difference.
We have been fortunate to have been recognized as the Best Volvo Dealership across India for 2 consecutive years by Volvo Car India. Besides this, in 2018 we were awarded the Best Customer Service, Best Technician,Best Sales Person across India and continued this trend by winning the Best Value Chain Performance (Insurance + Accessories + Extended Warranty Sales), Best Sales Person across India for 2019 too.
According to me, every automobile dealership tries to offer the best product and service to their target audience. We do the same. The only message I could share with them is to increase their focus on customer experience. Our key strength is that we focus on Customer Experience and Excellence, something that Volvo stands for internationally.