The IT Couple of Nagpur

They are the most well known couple in the IT circle of Nagpur. If retailing has become a flourishing business in the city today, the Budhays take the credit for being the pioneers. Over the years they have not only built up their own business, but also contributed to the building up of the channel community.

Sylvester Lobo

One finds IT retailers every nook and corner of Nagpur today. Thanks to Sudhir and Reeta Budhay, the retail trend was started in the city by B.Algo, their IT store, opened in 1994. Since then progress has been fast for the Budhays who will soon be moving their retail store to a much bigger place of 2,235 square feet area owned by them, while the current store is made up of 1,100 square feet on a leased property.

But prosperity has come not without pains. Certain product lines which once upon a time were very profit-making, like EPABX, fax and LCD projector, have been discontinued because they were no more remunerative. The Raipur branch was closed down in June 1999 after the Budhays found the payment culture of the city unsuitable to their business practices.

“Ethical dealings have been the backbone of our existence,” says Reeta Budhay who met Sudhir first time in school, went on to do engineering together, worked in the same company for some years before getting married in 1984. It was in 1988 that they went for a tatkal phone and began business in their garage under the banner of Business Algorithms.

Sudhir and Reeta took off with DCM products. “The initial days were bad,” recalls Sudhir, “because of the family feud in DCM, we had to run to Mumbai for spares.” Then came the dealerships in Compaq, HP and TVSE and the retail store.

Sacrosanct service

For the Budhays, service is sacrosanct. “We cannot have dissatisfied customers,” says Reeta who concentrates on channel sales while Sudhir manages corporate and retail sales. The impeccable service has brought in repeat sales, both from corporates and the home segment.

Right from day one, the couple has tried to maintain a healthy bottom line in their business. Reeta claims that she has got a bad name among channels because she insists on payments being made on time. The Budhays have developed a BDC (Bad to Deal with Cases) system by which they keep a track of those parties who do not have a good payment history.

“Turnover does not indicate the health of the company,” opines Sudhir who feels relieved that they had closed down their Raipur showroom which was making losses mainly because clients there issued cheques only to bounce. “Adding to turnover is an easy task,” says Reeta, “but that is not our main objective.” The couple carefully analyses creditworthiness of their clients before shipping products.

Training of staff

The Budhays have given top priority to training of the staff. Engineers are regularly sent for training with the principals. Even the front-desk staff and delivery boys are trained to deal with customers. “The delivery boys are the face of Business Algorithms and are the first to interact with customers when machines are delivered. So we train them to ensure that they interact with customers in the right way. We also impart thorough technical training to our engineers,” comments Reeta.

Ashwini Gera, Senior Manager, Systems, Indo Rama, agrees that the Business Algorithm engineers are well trained. “The post-sales service of Business Algorithm is commendable. They have technically qualified people,” says he.

Other clients are impressed by the transparent dealings of the Budhays. Says Kamal Kothari, MD, Primal Finance Pvt Ltd, “We have given repeat orders to Business Algorithm because their dealings are above board and they have consistently offered us better pricing.”

Business Algorithms has been able to offer better prices mainly because it buys in volumes. Also, overheads are carefully controlled with well-documented processes for marketing, service, and administration.

Satisfied employees

The employees are a satisfied lot because the Budhays have made it a practice to consult them before taking any major decision. Madhav Bakre who is in charge of the retail showroom and has been with the company for the last four years says that the couple has created a very conducive working environment where employee feedback is taken very seriously.

The Budhays, on their part, make every effort to get employees involved in every project that they undertake. For instance, they have taken loans from employees towards the new showroom that they will be moving in. Says Sudhir, “We have to pay a high interest rate to bank loans. We thought why not pay almost the same interest rate to our employees for their money.” The result is that the commitment of employees to the company remains unflinching.

Viraj Alkari who handles the service division in Business Algorithm is one such committed employee who has been with the company for the last nine years. He says that the Budhays do not impose any decision on employees. Instead, they get employees involved in policy decisions. “Above all, I like the business ethics of the couple,” says Viraj.

Community building

In the process of building up their business, the Budhays have taken leadership in uniting the channel community in Nagpur under the banner of Vidharba Computer & Media Dealers Welfare Association, which was formed in 1992. Sudhir, who is the founder-president, says that the association has not only brought together the channel partners but also has worked on issues like MRP, octroi and warranty for the common good.

Better days are ahead for Business Algorithm under the leadership of the Budhays because they are fully focused on developing their core competencies and achieve growth. Perhaps venturing out into software development could give the company quicker growth and better profits. Since both of them are engineers and do have some experience in the field, entry barriers should not be too difficult to overcome.

Business Algorithm is in the process of integrating Internet in its business. The company web site is already in place. It has also taken up Satyam dealership and Sudhir is in the process of developing a low-cost channel to sell Internet packages.

Greater focus on corporate sales could give better professional growth to the staff stimulating higher sales for the company which had a turnover of Rs 7.2 crore during 1999-00. This would also help Business Algorithm to cross the landmark figure of Rs 10 crore during 2000-01 with a healthy bottom line.

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