184 Mercs and still counting

Ten people who represented the group were then invited to the Mercedes-Benz plant at Chakan where they were given a presentation on the manufacturer’s entire product line-up. Mercedes-Benz also arranged test drives of all models within the expansive factory premises. This was their first and last meeting at the Chakan plant.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 22 Dec 2010 Views icon3382 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
184 Mercs and still counting
Within a week, the dealership received 115 confirmed bookings. But that was not it. “After we closed the order, there was a lot of pressure from additional buyers who felt they missed the boat. In a few days, the initial order of 115 cars swelled to 174 cars. We recently organised another brand showcase in Aurangabad and received another 10 booking taking the final figure to 184 cars.”

The final order reads 45 C-class, 92 E-class, 20 S-class, 20 M-class and seven G-class cars. As Deven told Autocar Professional there was some interest in the SLK too, but all buyers opted for family cars.

Speaking of the buyers, Deven’s father and director at B U Bhandari Motors, Chandravadan Bhandari says, “The buyers that included businessmen, industrialists and builders were a very humble bunch with a huge sense of community. This Mercedes deal was not the only time they have come together. Groups as large as 500 people have chartered flights for vacations in Goa. In an eco-friendly initiative, they have also jointly planted 10,000 trees in Aurangabad in an attempt to increase the city’s green cover. What was special about these buyers was that they wanted to put Aurangabad on the world map and felt there was no better way to do so.”

The father-son duo were also taken by surprise at the level of coordination among the buyers. The initial representatives had already compiled buyer lists with exact models before approaching the dealership. Over the course of their meetings, they also discovered the buyers had made themselves well versed with Mercedes-Benz’s line-up and had acquired an in-depth knowledge of the cars as well as technologies like Blue EFFICIENCY. While the men of the house decided on the model to buy, it was the women and kids who had the final say on specifications, trim and colour.

“It was interesting to find families that were buying more than one car bought in order of hierarchy. For instance, if the father bought an S-class, the elder son bought an E-class and the younger one a C-class,” remarks Deven. The entire deal was valued at Rs 65 crore. When asked of the incentive given on such a bulk order, Chandravadan Bhandari replies, “Yes, we did offer special prices. But the fact remains the customers did not approach us because they were getting the best discount. They wanted the best products and did not think of any other manufacturer.”

On their part, the Bhandaris did study the Aurangabad market and realised how significant the order was. Deven explained, “Over the past three years, Skoda had sold about 35 Superbs in the region while Honda will end 2010 having sold around 10 Accords in Aurangabad. Clearly, it was a big jump for buyers, many of whom were upgrading from Tata Indigos and Honda Citys.” Given that as many as 85 percent of the buyers had not driven an automatic car before, B U Bhandari also organised a driver training camp prior to making the deliveries. Held over three days in early October, the camp gave the buyers and drivers theoretical basics and practical training.” Happy with their training, many owners remarked their ‘bhao’ (value) had increased now that they were Mercedes-trained, ” laughs Deven.

Car deliveries were slated for October 15. In a move that strengthened the company’s commitment to Mercedes-Benz owners in Aurangabad, B U Bhandari Motors inaugurated a 10,000 square feet service centre the day before. Customers and their families were also treated to an entertainment programme which included a performance by singer KK.

The delivery ceremony had its moments too. The cars were brought in from the warehouse in Waluj near Aurangabad. The keys to each car were handed to the 150 customers who took delivery that day. A small puja and a shower of confetti marked each delivery. “Children gave parents strict instructions to delay taking delivery until they got back from school. It was a big moment for all in the family,” recalls Chandravadan Bhandari.

After booking their cars, there were few buyers who wanted to change their preference. Mercedes-Benz had already informed the dealership it could not alter the final order. Once again, the unique Aurangabadi sense of community shone through when buyers happily traded among one another without impacting the original order.

So how has business changed for B U Bhandari after this landmark deal? “Firstly, it was a hugely satisfying experience for our staff, many of who have been with Mercedes-Benz for over five years. While such a large sale is obviously great for business, we have gained more in terms of recognition. We visited Germany last month and were happy to hear Dr Dieter Zetsche (head of Mercedes-Benz cars) mention the achievement in his speech. It was truly a deal of prestige,” says Chandravadan Bhandari.

Looking ahead, B U Bhandari Motors is encouraged by the near- 50 percent growth in the luxury car segment. The dealership wants to beef up its presence in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and to this end will have on display Mercedes-Benz’s line of cars at Aurangabad.

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