Filling the gap between the demand and availability of the right skill and expertise for laptop repairing in India is brand 'Re-feel'. In an interaction, Samit Lakhotia, Director Strategy & BD, ClubLaptop and Refeel Cartridge Engineering Pvt. Ltd shares the growth plans for the company across India.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Brief us about the origin and development of your company and how did the company opt for franchise route?
Samit Lakhotia (SL): Re-feel cartridge engg the largest printer cartridge re-filling chain in the country started off from Kolkata with its first store getting operational in Feb. 2007. Re-feel started as an initiative with a small investment after carrying out an extensive research for three years. After gaining excellence in the cartridge re-filling industry the team started off with Clublaptop, a multi-brand servicing and repairing chain for laptops. The idea of entering into the servicing, and repairing of laptops was inspired due to the existing gap between the demand and availability of the right skill and expertise for laptop repairing in India. Clublaptop has marked its presence across the country.
NB: What is the USP of the brand 'Re-feel' and provide an insight to company's further expansion plans?
SL: Re-feel is India’s leading printer cartridge refilling chain with stores across over 80 cities in India. Our stores offer savings up to 75 per cent on print costs. We provide high quality print outs with page yield equivalent to original cartridges. We have saved over 10 lakh cartridges from going to the landfills thereby reducing e-waste and conserving natural resources.
NB: Currently, how many franchise/owned locations do you have in India?
SL: At present, we operate through 115 franchise owned retail outlets across 80 locations for re-feel and 55 stores across 38 locations for clublaptop.
NB: What is the start up cost of franchise outlets of your company in terms of space and money? What are the selection criteria for your franchisees?
SL: For re-feel the franchise startup cost is Rs 8-10 lakh with a space requirement of around 350-400 sq. ft and for Clublaptop its Rs 6-7 lakh with an area requirement of 200 sq. ft. People who have basic knowledge of IT industry or have the capacity of recruiting IT skilled people are preferred. However, we have a very healthy mixture of franchisees that come from all kinds of diverse backgrounds.
NB: How do you support your franchisees and what kind of training is given to them for doing business?
SL: The business model operates in a manner that the entire back end support of the business is handled by us whether it’s for marketing, supplying raw materials, non –technical business training or technical training. We ensure a regular supply of raw material, tools, equipments, machineries without any delays. We understand the importance of time in service industry. Apart from the 8 day training session that is given to the franchise owners & employees of the franchisee initially, keeping the franchisee technically supported & upgraded is a constant activity from our end.
NB: What advice would you like to give to the entrepreneurs and investors aspiring to take franchise route for growth of their ventures?
SL: For the upcoming entrepreneurs & investors the bottom line should be the correct identification of their area of interest in the franchise industry. As the industry is very diverse offering all kinds of business opportunities in every field of business. The business people look out to should be able to operate in the minimal cost & should provide steady and gradually rising returns over a period of time. It’s always recommended to venture out into business which is in the early stages of their life cycles as they provide more chances of growth in the long run as compared to business which are in the mature stages of their life cycle in India.