Third generation entrepreneur starts Kar-Workx & Spa, a multi-brand car service provider
Rishab Bafna is a third generation entrepreneur. The Bafna Group is headed by Padmashree awardee Suwalal Bafna and the group is a diversified entity with businesses in construction, education and logistics. An avid automobile enthusiast, young Rishab started preparing for his dream early on. He worked as a floor engineer at Arya Honda to understand the finer nuances of the business he wanted to get in to. Later, he moved to Barclays to work as an associate product manager. While pursuing his MBA from Babson University in Entrepreneurship, he started giving shape to his idea.
Back home in India, he found the service costs to be on the higher side. He met with a Babson alumni and discussed the aftermarket car service industry in India. Rishab recalls, “He said that India’s after-sales car service industry is behind US’ by 35 years. European, Japanese and American cars and most of the sports and super cars have forayed into the market. But USA, like India, lacked good service options outside of the dealership network.” This is when he decided to tackle this area and start Kar-Workx & Spa for the mid-to-luxury segment cars.
Founded in June 2013 in Mumbai, Kar-Worx & Spa is a multi-brand car service organisation. “We have seen good traffic from mid-to-luxury segment cars, from Maruti to Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Bentley, Range Rovers and so on. Our USP is state-of-the-art infrastructure with some of the best names in the service equipment industry, scanners, accurate diagnostics, skilled engineers all at affordable prices,” says Rishab. The company covers the entire spectrum of services, from periodic maintenance to mechanical services to cashless accident repairs along with other VAS items like free pick-up and drop, 24-hour breakdown assistance, insurance renewals etc. The success of their first workshop in Mumbai has also led them to start another one in Aurangabad.
Apart from catering to all service needs Kar-Worx aims to be an end-to-end solution provider to car owners. “We want to personalise every service experience and to do that we recently developed a garage management software (GMS). Kar-Worx is looking at expanding base to Pune by the first quarter of 2016,” says Rishab. The GMS enables smooth operation in a multi-location format. “Our GMS will help us track and take all our operations online. From checking in the car to invoicing, everything will be automated. Our software is designed in a way where a customer gets his own dashboard to check on the status of his car. Without calling countless times a day, the customer can get updates along with billing history, service reminders and tips,” he adds.
Customer education has been one of the biggest challenges in the field. “Being in the aftermarket space, educating a customer about the importance of regular servicing has been time consuming. We have worked extremely hard in the past two years to build a trust equation with our customers who now are content with our offerings,” says Rishab. Access to good quality, genuine spares at competitive prices is also one of challenges that the company is trying to tackle by building good vendor relations.
When the company started in June 2013, they only catered to the basic car servicing needs but the response was quite modest. The team then conducted research to understand the purchase pattern of customers in India and found that a car owner needs a one-stop solution to all his car needs. “We then installed an in-house paint booth and cashless tie-ups with over 15 leading insurance companies. We introduced pre-owned cars, insurance renewals and breakdown assistance,” says Rishab.
In terms of the competition landscape, there are a few multi-brand players in India like Mahindra First Choice Services, My TVS and Carz Care. There are plenty of tech startups trying to tackle different areas in the auto industry as well. For instance, the auto-classifieds space in India is very hot and apps like Strandd are trying to tackle smaller pieces of the puzzle. “Doing a thorough market research and study has helped us cope with the rapid developments in the Indian industry. I can confidently say that we have successfully and quickly adapted to the evolving 'online' ecosystem,” says Rishab. Kar-Works & Spa has a team of 27 employees covering Mumbai and Aurangabad. Mumbai is the HQ with all sourcing, accounting and marketing activities centralised. With the unit economics in place, the company is looking to expand aggressively now.
FB Page: Kar-workx