World Auto Forum organised the 8th IVASS: India Vehicle After Sales Summit 2022 to discuss ‘Best Practices for Profitability and Growth’ on December 17, 2022, at Radisson Blu Plaza, Delhi Airport. The conference and exhibition was powered by Syncron, a Swedish software solutions provider with a global presence. Here is a report
Given the present positive scenario in the automotive industry in India and elsewhere, the 8th IVASS India Vehicle After Sales Summit opened with a whole of expectations and strong vibes. Anuj Guglani, Founder and CEO, World Auto Forum (WAF), welcomed the delegates and briefed them about the latest WAF activities as well as the day’s agenda. Talking of the importance of after sales, he pointed out that while sales get the customer, it is after sales that ensures customer loyalty and retention. The first panel discussed the topic ‘Best Practices in Workshop Productivity and Profitability’. S Muralidharan, Chairman and Moderator, Mobility Aftermarket, flagged off the discussion by commenting on the importance of the number eight so as to highlight the 8th IVASS.
Talking of how the industry is moving towards digitisation, and what appears to be a threat to service centres, he sought the opinions of other panel members about why staying relevant and profitable was so necessary for them and how it would transpire in terms of ground reality. Pankaj Narula, Former ED, Maruti Suzuki, opined that profit is crucial to all business and that business grows with profit being reinvested into it. He spoke about how a large number of workshops have grown by optimum use of infrastructure and maximum manpower to work towards productivity. Hence, businesses sustain, grow and continue in the market only via profitability.
He added that it was not just customer satisfaction but customer delight that should be the goal and the people in the workshop have the ability to provide that delightful experience. Garima Misra, MD, Group Landmark, mentioned that after sales is much more inelastic than sales and hence it accounts for better stability of revenue. After sales accounts for 20% of revenue out of which 60% is profit. Emphasising that people are the foremost pillars of any business, Misra talked about how Group Landmark takes care of their employees. She went on to add that during the pandemic all the employees were provided with specific insurance policies and the company ensured that the family members of employees who lost their lives to the pandemic were given employment while education was ensured for their children.
During that period, representatives from the company visited 4,000 families and distributed 5 kg of rice to each family. That year, Group Landmark had the distinction of doubling their earnings. An inspiring initiative indeed! Vishal Bhat, Head (After Sales Business and Service), VW India, declared the need to treat after sales as pre-sales because after sales is the backbone of sales. A sale happens once but after sales keeps recurring and keeps the client loyal towards the company. Following the philosophy of the 4Ps i.e. people, process, productivity and profitability has indeed resulted in 30% customer retention at VW.
Bhat added that investing in new technology with digitisation, getting more skilled and trained manpower and the process of production to delivery in turn results in profitability and decides the next purchasing cycle of the customer. With time, promotions in terms of digitisation have become the 5th ‘P’. M Dhananjayan, MD, Focus Group (India and Middle East), said that in addition to the process, manpower needs to be focused upon with accurate training. From a customer point of view, an app agnostic mindset is prevalent which means people no longer want to use various apps. He spoke about the gap in OEM and dealership paths and opined that like 4Ps, the 4Rs also need to be addressed. Companies today are focussing on mindfulness and health as priorities along with collaborations between various teams. Emotions and thoughts of employees matter the most for a great customer experience.
Kalpit Shishodia, Director (Customer Service), Volvo Car India, felt that even if the customers return for seasonal requirements and discuss their service needs, the opportunity must be considered profitable for future growth. It doesn’t necessarily have to be typical services that a dealer provides but can also be as simple as value-added services, he stated. He highlighted the importance of tapping the utmost potential at the slightest opportunity. During lockdown, many OEMs and dealers focused on up-skilling themselves not just emotionally but also from a professional and training point of view, and that helped in improving knowledge and operations.
Chinmaya Hardas, Regional Director for India, Syncron, commented that people expect a personalised experience. It is important to utilise technology and to harness the available data to prepare packages and services towards catering to this requirement to achieve best results possible. He also spoke about evolving the process for best customer experience. At the workshop, technology used must be simple so that people working there can utilise and derive the benefits not just for profitability but for satisfaction as well. Summing up, Muralidharan concluded that both human and physical resources must be taken care of. He added that there was always a shortage of skilled manpower and hence training was the most important step forward for profitability.
Chris White of Keco Body Repair Products took the distinguished members of the industry in the audience through an interesting online session on Glue Pull Repair and how it is revolutionising and transforming the Vehicle Collision Repair Industry. It was 1:30 a.m at his location as he logged in from Oklahoma but he was as fresh and excited to talk on GPR as if it was 1:30 p.m. Glue pull repair is new to the vehicle repair industry but is poised to take over and transform the segment.
After a series of Keynote addresses and two more panel discussions, the event concluded with a short presentation ceremony. The award of ‘Leader of the Year Services Sector 2022’ was presented to Sandeep Gambhir, MD and CEO, Orix India, for the second time in a row for his tireless effort and constant growth as a leader. Vikrantt Mohan, National President, All India Automobile Workshops Association (AIAWA), was inducted into the WAF Global Hall of Fame for his tireless endeavour to help the growth and profitability of the entire ecosystem of independent automobile workshops across India.
R. Natarajan, Managing Editor and Publisher, MOTORINDIA, was inducted into the WAF Global Hall of Fame. His family pioneered India’s first automotive magazine. Natarajan has taken the magazine and his media house to a whole new different level. The digital and print editions are now read in 154 countries around the world and enjoy patronage of 400,000 readers! MOTORINDIA has been regularly published for the past six decades and counting. The WAF Global Hall of Fame Award was collected by Avijit Lahiri, Manager – Strategic Marketing, MOTORINDIA.
Volkswagen India was presented with an award for ‘Industry Best Practice’ for its innovative practice of digital customer communication via service CAM in India. Volkswagen India Service Department implemented the service cam not just for the customers to watch their cars being serviced and take their approvals but for much more! For starters, the company integrated warranty and other technical processes with it.
It also went ahead and connected the marketing tools for ongoing service promotions to cross-sell and up-sell, thereby enhancing customer convenience and satisfaction. This also helped to increase the the service revenue. The WAF Industry Best Practice Trophy was also presented to MG Motor India for their customer satisfaction initiatives in India. Morris Garages India Vehicle After Sales Service Department’s several customer-centric initiatives like dealer workforce, SOPs programmes, five-year RSA programme, MG shield, ‘My MG’ app, empower to delight were, all together, declared as a WAF Industry Best Practice! The final WAF Industry Best Practice trophy was presented to iTriangle Infotech for their best practice of telematics 4G and innovative and futuristic practices. The company has been spearheading the transformation from 2G to 4G and is India’s largest and also the fastest growing telematics company. The summit was wrapped up with a valedictory ceremony.