CarZ, the latest servicing brand in the automotive market has been launched with the aim to give specialised services to cars at lower rates as compared to other dealers. In an interview Venu Donepudi, Founder and MD, CarZ shares the company’s franchise plans in the coming years.
Abha Garyali (AG): Please share with us the conception and growth of CarZ.
Venu Donepudi (VD): CarZ was founded in 2008 by me and Vijay Gummadi. Both of us are automotive experts with extensive experience in the North American Auto industry. Considering that dealerships and unorganised garages were the only two car service options in India at that time, CarZ was ideated to offer consumers the best of both: car repair with the expertise of a dealer and comfort of a local mechanic. We built facility that not just looked nice but also functioned like the top-players and offered everything but at one-fourth the price.
Our mantra has been better, faster, and affordable. We service majority of the cars available in the market.
AG: When and what inspired you to take the franchise route for its expansion?
VD: The brand, CarZ came into existence in 2008 but we took time in understanding the markets and its needs, government regulations etc. Therefore we started operations in 2010. There is lot of growth involved in this sector so franchising is the best mode for successful expansion. This made us think about franchising. However we have not adopted the mode yet. We will be ready for franchising by early next year.
AG: What facilities does the brand offer? What is the USP of CarZ?
VD: CarZ offers a full range of repair services for all makes and models of cars. It provides routine and preventive maintenance, electrical and mechanical repair, accident repair – denting and painting, tyres and services, battery and many other facilities. These services are offered in convenient neighborhood locations and offsite by mobile service vans. All services are performed by highly trained technicians by employing advanced diagnostic and repair equipment as well as safe, high quality, branded replacement parts. The modern garage equipments used is one of the highlights at CarZ. It also offers express and mobile service to customers for their convenience. One can get their car picked up from their doorsteps at night and get it back (in case of minor maintenance repair) the next day before office at no extra cost.
AG: Where do you see CarZ in the next five years?
VD: CarZ is a customer centric organisation and is focused to be the most preferred destination for any customer seeking automobile related issues, right from servicing to general education. Our vision is to expand pan India with 300 outlets by 2016. Currently, our focus is to expand and to increase our presence in AP, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the coming months through a combination of company-owned and franchise facilities. We aim to have 70 per cent of the planned outlets to be in franchise mode and the rest 30 per cent company owned.
AG: What according to you is the scope for aspiring franchisees in this business? Is the future of this industry bright in the years to come?
VD: Cars are becoming more technology driven. In 2001 car sales were 1.2 million. This figure has increased to 2.5 million in 2011. Moreover it is projected to double in the next two- three years further. This shows the need of automotive care. Currently, 18 million passenger cars are already on the roads. Only a third of the vehicles go back to the dealer after the warranty period, so there is huge opportunity. Though there is a large unorganised market for servicing, the more complicated cars of today cannot be dealt by these small shops. Training, parts and equipment is needed, which we can deliver at a cheaper cost than the authorised service centres. Therefore these outlets have as a unique proposition — multi-brand and a one-stop-shop for many of the auto needs of the customers.
AG: How many franchisees do you have? What are your future expansion plans?
VD: We are looking to expand to 11 company owned outlets and one franchise in Nizamabad. We currently operate in four locations in Hyderabad with plans for a phased nationwide rollout. Our immediate expansion plans would be in new markets of Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states.
AG: What are the qualities and qualifications that you seek for in your franchisees? How much investment is required by aspiring franchisees?
VD: Strong ethics, appreciation for customer service values, ability to motivate team members and fire in the belly for growth are absolutely critical. Business or retail experience, proven management skills, and a strong financial position are ideal for one’s Success as a CarZ franchisee. Those with experience are the only ones who can find place at CarZ.
CarZ will look for franchisees that will complement their service offering with local knowledge and expertise.
AG: How does the company support and train franchisees?
VD: As a franchisee of CarZ family, they will get world class support right from the beginning, before they even open their doors, and continuing long after providing their first car repair service. Being a CarZ franchisee, they will remain independent - with the resources of an industry leader by their side.
Franchisees will get unparalleled marketing, franchising, and operational support. Few areas where CarZ will support its franchisees are high quality parts, training, technology, sales, operations, standard operating procedures, advanced diagnostic & repair technology, marketing, advertising and brand building, start-up guidance etc.