When I decided to join a startup, barely six months into its run, little did I know that my ride would not only be fun-filled but, also a battle with pushing my boundaries.

My role was to check vehicle authenticity on websites such as Vahan and assist retail managers by conducting thorough service checks on cars which came in for an inspection.

At the time of my arrival, this process was time-consuming and unreliable as third parties were involved.

Seeing this, I was compelled to reach out to my boss, Mr. Hardeep Sikka, the man who runs training sessions country-wide for CARS24.

Myself

Following a discussion with Mr Sikka, we reached a common conclusion that the work processes was highly inefficient, cumbersome as well as expensive. While we were busy tackling these issues, on one fine day, Mr Ruchit Agarwal from the leadership team walked up to me and tried understanding my role as well as responsibilities. I’ll give you a glimpse into the conversation which followed thereupon:

Ruchit: “What do you at CARS24?”

I replied with a hesitant voice, “Sir, I assist retail managers while conducting vehicle and service checks.” I was a bit scared, to be honest.

Ruchit: “How do you check vehicle service details? While I believe that vehicle check is a simple process, which can be taken care of by anyone. Service check, on the other hand, can be quite daunting.” Ruchit went on to say that he expected me to form my own contacts for a more-efficient service check process, which would have helped CARS24 in the long run.

I was shaking in my boots, however; I managed to ask him, “Sir, how do I do it? How do I really go about generating alliances with vendors?” I have none of the following in this field – experience, contact and knowledge about cars.

Smiling at me he added, “You can do it!”

Vinod: Given his trust on my capabilities, I said, “Okay, sir.”

While I was pumped-up for the first few seconds, a couple of minutes later self-doubt kicked in. I rang a few friends but, to my utter disappointment, they were of no help. I lost my faith in completing the task with success. Feeling unhappy, I half-heartedly went home to look for a new job that would not require much from me.

However, with the responsibility of still completing my task in a timely fashion looming over my head, I reluctantly started searching for relevant contacts. At last, I decided not to give up on the challenge.

I created a strategy to assist me with the task at hand: I would try to generate vendor alliances through my family and friends as well as through hit-and-trial method.

In the process of exploring contacts within my family, I called my brother-in-law and enquired of his knowledge of anyone working with a car dealership. He promptly forwarded me one of his relatives’ contact details, who was the General Manager (Service) at one of the renowned car dealerships.

I called the contact the very next day, and upon hearing his caller tune, “jeena isi ka naam hai”, I chuckled to myself lightly. The person who picked the call sounded nice and cordial. We exchanged some notes concerning our goal of building vendors at CARS24. He did not commit to anything but, expressed his willingness to help. However, much to my utter disappointment, the lead fell cold.  Though, after repeated efforts, I, at last, found someone who was willing to help in my endeavours. For obvious reasons, I wanted to close the deal at the earliest. I met him during one of my off days and was able to forge an alliance.

The closure of the deal uplifted my morale and within 15 days of closing my first deal, I was able to build mutually win-win alliances with four more vendors.

At this time, one of my goals was to ensure effectiveness in providing information constantly and efficiently to retail managers. Given the workload, I asked Mukesh, a colleague of mine, to step in and join the bandwagon. The additional help came in handy.

The Team

I also started researching for new alliances online. I wanted to hunt down alternatives for existing vendors as a few of them were even denying the vehicle service check facility on behalf of car owners. Through persistence, we were able to build trust with service centres who started recognising our number, as well as our voices, which helped smoothen the entire process.

As of now, we have 15 permanent service vendors from the likes of Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Skoda, Fiat, TATA, Renault, Mahindra, Maruti, Nissan, Volkswagen and Toyota. Through time I have managed to see our growth. There were days when our calls were declined by several vendors within the time frame of a few minutes and now the alliances are so strong that these vendors even inform us of their weekly offs and holidays.

Team with mentor

All our hard work has had its impact at varying levels. We have managed to bring in efficiency and accuracy to the retail division, as described below:

  1. The ability to conduct service checks has increased multi-fold, without incurring the need to increase the manpower of our two-member team.
  2. Ensured that no unwanted vehicle was purchased under our supervision.
  3. We were able to secure Rs 2.5 lakhs worth of challans (on monthly basis) from all across the country. The amount recovered from these challans fall into the coffers of the Indian Government. The same can subsequently be put to use in providing better infrastructure and services for all of us.
  4. We were able to secure 20 leads from the vendors, and we are determined to grow multifold, going forward.
  5. Able to improve the inspection process carried out by the evaluators.

I would not have accomplished all of this without the initial vote of trust from Mr Ruchit and Mr Sikka ji. Today, we are enjoying our work and have gained time to start learning new things on a daily basis. This has been the story of my safari, absolutely a growth safari with CARS24.