Pioneering a unique and first of its kind business, ClubLaptop serves a complete laptop repair solution to its customers. In an interview Alkesh Agarwal, CEO, ClubLaptop shares with us about his company.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share with us the inception of ‘ClubLaptop’
Alkesh Agarwal (AA): Our experience in the IT industry for over a decade has been instrumental in identifying a huge market gap in the laptop market industry. Laptop sales have been growing around 76 per cent year on year (YOY) in the last five to six years in India. We decided to form a club of laptop owners under the brand name “ClubLaptop” to provide one stop solution for laptop repair, laptop accessories, and new laptop all under one roof.
AG: How is the concept of ClubLaptop evolving in India?
AA: The concept of ClubLaptop has been well accepted by people in general. In case, there is any problem after the laptop is out of warranty, it becomes a real big challenge to get it repaired. The turn around time with Authorised Service Centres is very high and the charges for service and repair/replacement of components are so high that it is better to buy a new laptop rather than getting it repaired. The local desktop engineers disguise themselves as laptop engineers and can cause an irreparable damage to your laptop. Thus, with ClubLaptop such problems are greatly reduced.
AG: What is the USP of ClubLaptop?
AA: At ClubLaptop,, we are laptop service specialist, providing laptop repair facilities for all brands and different laptop models at prices which are up to 60 per cent lower than the Authorised Service Centres. Usage of state-of-art tools, equipments and machineries, highly trained manpower, and usage of high quality components help us in delivering quality services across all our stores through out India.
AG: What can you foretell about the success of laptop solution companies in India?
AA: The laptop repair/service industry is in a very nascent stage in India. There is a tremendous scope for organised laptop repair industry. The demand for laptop is on the rise and so will be the demand for laptop repair. Everywhere desktops are being replaced by laptops because of their falling prices, battery back-up, and mobility.
AG: What inspired you to take the franchise route to expand?
AA: Franchising is a wonderful way to duplicate a successful business model with like minded people. Since we have a successful business model, we believe that franchising will help us in penetrating the market at a break neck speed. This being a service industry, we are looking for entrepreneurs who can partner with us and share the vision of providing a complete laptop repair solution to the customers.
AG: How many centres do you have at present? What are the future target locations for your expansion?
AA: ClubLaptop stores are currently operational in seven cities in India. Further, we have finalised 25 stores in the last three months across India, and we intend to open 250 stores by the end of 2011.
AG: What kind of challenges can be faced while expanding the company through the franchise route? Please share these challenges with us.
AA: This industry requires high level of skilled manpower and constant up dates on the changing technology and models. We need people who have a flair for working in a service industry, people who understand the value of customer service and customer satisfaction. Training and retaining of manpower is a big challenge that we have to meet in due course of time.
AG: What kind of background is necessary for securing a franchise of ClubLaptop?
AA: We require entrepreneurs who love challenges and are capable of adapting to the ever changing business scenario. IT skills or the ability to hire IT skilled people is required. Flair to work in a service industry is certainly required.
AG: What kind of training and support a franchisee would get when partnering with you?
AA: We give a complete business model training to all our franchisees. The training and support is divided into pre-operational and post operational activities. The training includes technical training, marketing training, store handling, accounts, administration, and software training. Theory and practical classes are well supported by manuals and other support documents.
AG: What are the hurdles that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
AA: In service industry, you have to meet the demands of different people at different levels. It is challenging to satisfy few people who are not rational and behave unrealistically in certain circumstances. Franchisees need to take a very calm, rational approach in convincing people about the quality and other aspects of their services. It is always challenging when you have to establish a new concept. Being pioneers, the franchisees will get the early mover advantage in the long run.