Manoj Wanvari and Anil Udasi of Growmore Computer Services have carved a niche for themselves in printer maintenance service and in distribution of spares and consumables. Though things were difficult in the beginning, they believed in the Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest.
For the duo, there were two areas of common interest – to become the biggest and the best in service sector. The company recorded a turnover of Rs 3 crore in 1999-00, up from the previous Rs 2.5 crore. This year they expect nearly 20 percent growth.
A diploma holder in electronics engineering, Manoj first came across Anil, a diploma holder in computer technology, while working as a trainee engineer in Neptune Computers, a sister concern of Minicomp. After leaving that organization, he started freelancing.
Growmore’s story began with three floppy drives lying with Manoj, which needed the expertise of a service man. Despite having enough options, Manoj sought the dexterity of Anil, who was still working in Neptune as an in-house service engineer. And once the drives were repaired, there was no looking back for the two.
Landmark in service industry
The company, first christened as Genius Computer Services, was set up in September 1991 in a 60 sq. ft office with basic equipment like a soldering iron, oscilloscope and a multimeter. Activities carried out were the repairs of peripherals like motherboards, hard drives and floppy drives. Today, the service center alone occupies an area of 1500 sq. ft.
Growmore Computer Services was founded in April 1992 as a partnership concern. The company was named after Harshad Mehta’s Growmore when his company was at its peak and in the limelight, before the stock scam had cropped up. Manoj says, “We wanted people to remember our name, a strategy that worked, as everyone still remembers this name to date.”
Growmore was shifted to Ghatkopar in 1994 and the line of business was changed to service of peripherals. L&T Peripherals and later Godrej Trading and Services appointed it as an authorized service center.
Before long, Hewlett Packard India too appointed Growmore as an authorized service provider for HP peripherals in 1995. Then came the tie-up with Epson Service in April 1999.
Growmore has three levels of service – in-house repairs (the profit stream of the company), field repairs and annual maintenance of peripherals.
Bulk sales of spares and accessories accounts for 40 percent of the total revenue generation for
Growmore. Sales of peripherals and consumables are another area of revenue generation, where emphasis is on the corporate, SME and SOHO sector.
For spares distribution the company has three categories of customers – dealers/ channel partners/OEMS, corporate and
Anil and Manoj take great care to see that all these levels get good value-added services. Dealers get credit to the tune of 15 days special pricing on large volumes and freebies too.
For corporate clients the company provides installation of the spares free of cost due to long-term relationships with them. Corporates also get credit depending upon their own credit systems. Retail customers collect spares from Growmore by paying on the spot and the spares are billed to them on
Direct interaction is the key to their successful channel network. Anil, member of TAIT cricket team, says, “We keep in touch with our partners on the phone at least four times a day. As we do business only in Mumbai, we give hand delivery of materials to them.”
Besides this, the company also supplies spares to Nasik, Pune, Bangalore, Goa, Gujurat, Delhi, and other long-time dealers. But, upcountry dealers have to send the payment in advance by DD/PO. The company provides delivery by courier at its own cost the next day.
Adding that personal touch
Anil says that the company’s strength lies in its ability to carry stocks of spares and give the customers immediate service/spare replacement without having to wait for the parent company to give it to them. “Our weakness is” admits Anil “at times we do over commit our services.”
Both Anil and Manoj strongly believe that the customer should feel like he is being looked after in the company. The level of custom satisfaction is gauged through a feedback format provided to customers where they mention different levels of their satisfaction.
Growmore has many satisfied customers who are happy with this attitude. And, Anil and Manoj believe that the reference from the existing clients is one main source of their business.
Ashish Vaidya, Asst Engineer, Computer Systems, Toyo Engineering India, came to know about Growmore through HP India Ltd. He says, ” Growmore has served us for the last three years. What makes them stand out is the strong customer coordination and service follow up.”
In Manoj’s opinion, the ability to react to negative feedback is another good practice of Growmore, which is achieved by listening to their problems patiently.
Looking at the mirror
Manoj holds a pragmatic view of his 36 employees’ strengths and weakness. If asked to rate his service engineers on a scale of 10, Manoj would give them 7.5 marks. He adds, “The day customers deal with our engineers directly with minimal intervention by us, even for monetary dealings, I will rate them as having won 10.” And in an endeavor to ensure that all their employees score a full 10, Manoj and Anil give them more responsibilities and freedom.
Snehal Kamble, Growmore’s Service Manager, who joined the company as a customer support engineer back in 1995, says, “The name Growmore really connotes more growth for internal as well as external public. More responsibilities and more freedom given to the employees endear the internal people to the organization. Sometimes we go out of the way only to ensure that the customers are properly taken care of.”
In the future…
The people in the industry were much happier some eight years back, reminisces Manoj. Then the margins were much high. “What we have now become are just ‘glorified delivery boys’ for the MNCs at our own cost. The margins should be more realistic and reasonable,” he adds.
Manoj admits surviving in this industry will become tougher as time goes by. Most MNC vendors are coming out with their own service packs. If a customer gets a three-year warranty, he might come to the service center only after three years.
In certain cases big companies are entering the area of direct service. Manoj says, “Two years down the line, I really don’t see companies like HP requiring service centers like us. They can appoint their own engineers at their own centers.”
Nevertheless, Manoj optimistically says, “Those having the capacity to carry stock of spares and have good manpower will survive.” However, novices in this industry often cause it a harm by reducing prices to increase volume. He says, “Once you start growing, your customers will not allow you to increase your prices and your overheads will start killing you. You will not be able to sustain your growth.”
The company plans to branch out to various parts of the country starting with Pune, Nasik and Ahmedabad within the next six months. Web site support to customers has already been chalked out and will be implemented by this November.
However, Manoj says that the company’s key focus is on tie-ups with more MNCs, some of which are already in the pipeline.
Saji M P