‘MAHINDRA RISE MOMENT’ OF MY LIFE
BECOMING MARKET LEADER IN TAMILNADU
In the year 1991, I was transferred from Jaipur to Chennai as Area Manager. It was a sector shift from Automotive to Farm Equipment. A cross country movement and an exposure to a new work culture. And, I, vividly remember, how a colleague of mine had even jokingly remarked at that time about my transfer from automobiles to tractors–‘So Kamlesh! now your ‘speed’ reduces but ‘torque’ increases.’ Quite connoting to the characteristics of an automobile and a tractor. But there was a bigger barrier beyond speed and torque. That was the local vernacular ‘Tamil language’ that was utter Greek to me. And my palate that was not akin to the local culinary in all frankness. So, I felt, overall, it was a dim and a losing proposition for me. I landed in Chennai draped in apprehensions, not knowing fully the local ball game, yet oozing with some valid convictions and arrived procedures as a springboard.
As a territory, I had Tamilnadu (TN) Kerala and the Andamans, and to sell and service, the rugged Red Mahindra Tractors rubbing shoulders with Tafe the local giant. I was told we had an effective network of well laid ebullient dealers and officers. The HO mandate was to become Market leader in two years. Pronounced and reminded periodically by M&M icon Mr Alan Durante, the then President and Head of Marketing AD & FES.
If my memory serves me right TN market was then on an upswing and hovering around 8k-10k tractors annually, between 1992 -1996. TAFE were market leaders, followed by us but the gap was ever widening. With great expectations, as I landed in Chennai I decided to do three simple things that would have helped us:
1. I took a whirlwind tour of all Dealerships basically to establish an effective interpersonal rapport with the owners and their employees which was required as a force multiplier, and even more because I hailed from the North. Bought an English- Tamil translation book to know and remember some key words required for day to day business.
2. Took a complete inventory of Dealer infrastructure- (hardware, software, systems and processes) of all our Dealerships and branches and did a similar exercise for competitors, to understand where we stood. And, it was an eye opener.
3. Launched a local ground level tactics “To be the best in each activity,” such as paid up stock, availability of spare parts, Dealer finance, Manpower training, Showroom display, Field contact, Tractor workshop record, Downtimes, Dealer branches and service points for doorstep service etc.
During my first year of office in Chennai we did not get significant results to establish ourselves as market leaders. On realising our level of activities TAFE too pulled up their socks and started doing aggressive wholesale in districts of Chengalpet, Madurai and Tirunelvelli. I still remember the stinkers I then used to get from Mr Alan for not becoming market leaders.
But the crafty tempest of TAFE did not deter us, and we continued with our sincere efforts in programming and monitoring the market almost on a daily basis.
And then on a particular month in F-93, if I remember correctly we became Market Leaders for that particular month beating TAFE in their own home ground. For a couple of months we played down this big achievement to let any fluke pass over. But our efforts were beginning to manifest and soon we became market leaders in all 25, 35 and 45 HP categories.
Chennai office was also adjudged runners-up, winners and runners-up in financial year’s f-93, f-94 and f-95.
And, today I realise. That was truly a ‘Mahindra rise moment’ for me.