My last 13 years’ work experience has been in the automobile industry only with different car dealerships. That’s a pretty long time, isn’t it?
During this period, I got the chance to work with various brands, viz, Ford, Honda, Skoda, BMW, Audi, and Porsche.
Today, as I look back, I feel that although each brand is trying hard to fight competition by trying to stand out in the crowd, BMW is the only one that has managed to achieve this aim through its strong association with an object that reflects the same qualities that it represents, luxury, refinement, elegance, dignity, and beauty: a jar of white orchids.
Whether you visit a dealership or you go to a BMW office, you will always find these jars strategically placed at all the external touch points.
Here is a pic that I clicked last week…
A beauty indeed! I love it because everytime I look at it, I feel a strange kind of calmness and spiritual joy descending on my soul…The same transformation probabably happens to customers too. That’s important when you are constantly dealing with irate customers. It helps when everyone is cool and relaxed.
A few days ago, while cleaning out my almirah, I came across this old pic. It’s about 15 years old, I think, clicked around the beginning of the 21st century. It made me feel very nostalgic.
If you look closely, you will find me right in the center, just next to Mr. Soundar Rajan (Service Manager), the only one wearing a tie. Almost the entire team of Harpreet Ford, Vasant Kunj branch, is here. This includes Customer Relations (Asha Shrivastav, Shobha Pathak, Sumit Kapoor, me as Manager – Customer Relations), Parts Department (Mr. Dubey & Subhash), Front Office Manager (Mr. Ashok Verma), Accounts (Mehtab and Sati Mam), IT (Manoj), Floor In-charge (Akhtar), Bodyshop Advisor, Service Advisors (Arvind, Sadiq), Pantry Person (Santosh), EDP Assistant (Pradeep), and Technicians.
It was through Harpreet Ford that I got the chance to join the fast growing Automobile Industry. I attribute whatever I am today to this organization.
My special thanks go to Rajan Sir (Mr. Soundar Rajan). I think the whole team will always remain indebted to him for all the knowledge and inspiration he gave us even after we had all moved on. He strongly believed that the best way to lead is through personal example. That’s why we all remember him for what he always stood up for, honesty, perseverance, hard work, courtesy, and most important, proper grooming because customer interaction is all about making the best first impressions.
I still recall some of his favorite lines that he often repeated during meetings.
“Be punctual. Come on time, work hard as per processes and systems, and go on time.” Being a family man himself, he disliked making people work beyond normal working hours. This was what made him so popular.
“A dealership can succeed only if its 3 ps are proper: people, process, and place (infrastructure). No dealer is perfect in reality and some of these Ps are always deficient. That is what our struggle is all about.”
“An organization will be successful only if right people are placed at right places at the right time.”
In around 2008, this workshop caught massive fire. Thank God, no one was hurt. It was subsequently shifted to Okhla, where it stands now.
It was through Rajan Sir’s recommendation that I got a second chance to work in his team. This time, it was with the BMW cars Dealer Bird Automotive in Gurgaon; he was General Manager – After Sales and I was Senior Manager – Customer Relations. My stint in Bird turned out to be a great learning experience and it also helped me get a strong foothold in the Premium Segment of the Automobile Industry.
Although we work in different organizations at present, I still think of Rajan Sir when I face tough challenges at work related to team management and achievement of organizational goals and objectives. I ask myself how he would have handled them if he had to face them. I still recall how he used to get the whole team together for frequent meetings and motivate us to achieve great results. We were always a winning team. His overall bearing always exuded a tremendous amount of self-confidence and he always spoke with a strong conviction in his beliefs. These are the qualities that I tried to imbibe during my interaction with him and I attribute my achievements till date to this.
A close family member once told me that a good manager can’t always be a good human being. But from whatever I know of his personal life as a family man, Rajan Sir is, I think, an exception to this rule. Not only is he an excellent manager, he is also a great human being. In retrospect, I feel now that being a good human being is the most important thing because everything else, success, joy, fame, money, follows from this premise.
Wherever you all are, dear Friends and ex-colleagues, Sumit, Asha, Shobha, and Rajan Sir, I wish you all the very best in life!