New Delhi, December 26, 2018: Say Hello to Ranjeev Dahuja, 52, son of a banker, chartered accountant by profession and owner of six automobile dealerships under different brands across North India. Dahuja, a first generation entrepreneur who first ventured into finance business and then moved into used car selling, did not have any know-how about automobile business. But his firm belief and sound business ethics led him to turn the tables every time challenges cropped in according to reports published in auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com
In his early days, Dahuja opted for Charted Accountancy as the profession to earn his bread and butter. But after three years, his love for finance and accounting led him to form his own NBFC, Berkeley Finance Limited in 1992. This company was incubated with the help of funds raised from family and friends.
In early 90’s, Dahuja had tremendous success in the finance industry generating good business from home loans, car loans and credit cards. Soon Berkeley Finance became the most sought after finance provider in Chandigarh. With an employee base of about 500, the company helped people to get transparent finances at good rates. But the party did not last long as by the late 90’s, large banks jumped into the financing business with competitive rates that made the business tough and challenging for Dahuja. Still during the 8-9 years long business journey, one thing that he had earned was a huge and loyal customer base because of his business ethics that was transparent and customer oriented.
During the beginning of the twentieth century, Ranjeev Dahuja, eldest of three brothers, found automobile buyers’ profile as the cleanest of all which signalled him to enter the used car business, as Berkeley Automall in Panchkula. Dahuja recalls: “At that time we used to provide services like six-month warranty on used car, cashless repair and multi-model workshop which most of the used car dealers fail to provide even today. This helped us to achieve tremendous growth in the first few months. In fact, we were approached by people from Ambala, Ludhiana and other Tier II cities.”
“At the same time, Maruti Suzuki also ventured into the used car business with True Value and we were the only competition to them. In fact, The Tribune newspaper quoted us along with Maruti True Value, which was a matter of pride for us. However, taxation and RTO issues in used car business became a challenge for us later and business became difficult as we were allowed to buy and sell only in the same city. So, we thought we cannot just rely on one particular business for bread and butter,” said Dahuja.
With that thought, Dahuja applied for passenger vehicle dealerships for Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai but didn’t get the breakthrough at first. However in 2001, he was successful in getting Yamaha dealership and later of commercial vehicle maker Ashok Leyland. As the first step towards becoming a principal dealer turned bitter in a few years, he turned down both the dealerships.
Dahuja explains: “It is not counted as a failure. It was more a stepping stone towards the automobile business.”
In 2004, he opened his first passenger vehicle dealership with General Motors. Recalling the initial days, Dahuja says: “One of the strengths that led us to chart out a new path in the business was our customer base that moved with us from financing their cars to buying cars from us. We had data of 70,000 customers who financed cars like Maruti 800, Premier Padmini and later upgraded to Esteem and Daewoo Cielo. So, when we started Berkeley Motors with General Motors, our customers upgraded to Chevrolet cars as they trusted us.” Just after General Motors, Berkeley Motors added Maruti Suzuki dealership in Panchkula to its portfolio. However, at that time there was competition among Maruti dealers. So, a lot of door-to-door campaigns and market research were carried out.”
Later Berkeley Motors was appointed as a dealer partner for Mercedes Benz India. In 2012, Maruti Suzuki India forced Berkeley Motors to choose between them and Mercedes Benz. Dahuja opted for Mercedes Benz and exited the Maruti Suzuki dealership. He also opted for the immediate competition Hyundai and now owns three dealerships of Hyundai. About this decision, he says, “It was a momentary decision to exit the Maruti Suzuki dealership.”Ranjeev Dahuja still counts his finance background as one of the biggest strengths to run the dealership business as he easily checks out the financial viability before stepping into any dealership. Apart from this, he believes in delegating work and empowering people in his team that he feels is the other factor that has led to his business growth. “This way they take responsibility and do things on their own. Giving authority and responsibility and delegating work motivates employees to achieve more than what is required,” says Dahuja according to reports published in auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com
Dahuja also counts manpower as one of the biggest strengths. “Good manpower can help you build a good customer base,” he says. Calling himself as the best pay master, Dahuja says he doesn’t face any attrition issues. He also believes in investing in manpower.
Ranjeev Dahuja’s Success Mantra
– Check Financial Viability of Dealership
– Good will and market you make for yourself
– Being Transparent to customers
– Customer first approach
– Invest in good manpower
– Keeping eye on inventory and Stock management
– Stop price war among other dealers
– Manage real estate cost by renting out rather investing in property
A keen follower of businessmen like Dhirubhai Ambani and Richard Branson, Dahuja believes that the customer first approach helps businesses to sustain long-term, as in the long run it is customers’ referrals that give the real business. However, he gives equal importance to marketing and branding activities. He says, “It’s the sequence of events which makes the conversion. Not just one tool can help you achieve business goals.”