Mr. Sumit Garg, co-founder, and MD at Luxury Ride tells us about luxury car markets.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sumit Garg: We are really good and survived this COVID19 time. COVID-19 made us realize how important our health is and we must do something or the other in order to ensure our well-being.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Luxury Ride.
Sumit Garg: Right from my school days, cars always fascinated me. I used to watch the cars on the road and would know the price, specification, anything and everything about the cars. The passion continued when I got into RVCE, one of Karnataka’s leading engineering colleges to pursue my degree in Engineering, where I would buy second-hand car magazines as they were quite cheap and I could afford them as a student. After graduation, it was no surprise to anyone who knew me that I will turn into an entrepreneur and co-founded, KoiBhiCar.com in 2012, an online marketplace for pre-owned luxury cars. But soon I realized that the concept of an online marketplace for pre-owned luxury cars is still some time away from consumer acceptance and the brand name was not aligned to the business of selling premium, luxury cars. I quickly pivoted the venture into an offline one leading to the birth of Luxury Ride in March 2015. So, I turned a childhood dream into reality and built Luxury Ride among India’s leading and largest multi-brand pre-owned luxury car players.
How does Luxury Ride innovate?
Sumit Garg: We knew we were onto something big right from day one. India has a growing, aspirational young population that wanted to own a luxury car but could not due to the high cost of such vehicles and they would easily opt for a pre-owned one. However, the space was largely unorganized with a handful of large players with the focus being less on this aspirational youth audience. This adversely impacted the space’s growth as trust and reliability are two key factors for any potential customer looking at a pre-owned luxury car since the investment was high. That is why we put every vehicle that comes to us through a 150-parameter check. And we knew the customer would feel more assured buying if we provided cost-effective servicing with an assurance of original spare parts being used. We later added modification services, insurance, and roadside assistance to ensure we became an end-to-end solution to our customers. At each outlet, keeping the younger consumer in mind, we maintain a relaxed ambiance.
Experiential marketing and quality product is the backbone of our business. The cars we have at the Luxury Ride showroom and inventory for catering to our digital consumers are premium. Luxury Ride makes sure that even if the cars are pre-owned the quality is not sacrificed at any cost. The primary focus is to fulfill the demands of the customers.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Sumit Garg: The pre-owned luxury car segment has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in India. There was hardly any business in the month of April and May 2020, it was no profit months for us. However, post lockdown we have successfully sold our inventory. We saw a decent business in August and September. We believe that the organized pre-owned luxury car market is expected to do better and this trend is likely to be there post COVID era too. The future of the luxury Indian used car market will see a surge in demand. There is huge traction coming from the tier II and III cities of India, and it is going to get more intense with time. The pandemic has also affected consumer buying behavior, and the demand for pre-owned luxury cars to continue, and also expect it to play a pivotal role going forward.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Sumit Garg: Our employees are our strength and they are our extended family. We have not deducted anyone’s salary, in fact, we have given a promotion to some of our staff, and we have also revised and increased incentives for our sales team. As we are aggressively expanding in tier II, tier III cities of India, we are looking at fresh hiring in full capacity and will offer the salary as per the industry standards. In the future, if the situation demands we will provide work from home facilities to our staffs.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Sumit Garg: When you’re in the business of selling a luxury product, customers typically make an effort to seek you out, not the other way around. It’s crucial to build and maintain a strong connection with customers, and to do so in a way that reflects this unique audience. We build an ERP especially to connect with the customers which also helped us to connect with potential customers. We believe customers are part of the Luxury Ride family and thus to make them feel special we wished them in our way on their special day.
Your final thoughts?
Sumit Garg: Co-Founded by Sumit Garg and a serial angel investor, Dhianu Das back in March 2015, Luxury Ride is India’s fastest-growing and largest chain of pre-owned, multi-brand luxury car showrooms, offering end to end services from buying, selling, servicing, insurance, roadside assistance to car modification and more. Luxury Ride has a strong market hold in North India and is currently present across Delhi, Karnal, Ludhiana, Dehradun, Jaipur, and Chandigarh, through a mix of owned and franchised outlets. Its Karnal showroom is India’s biggest, single location pre-owned car showroom spread over 1-acre land in a building of 4-floors, with a display capacity of 50+ luxury cars. Luxury Ride recently has ventured into the exotic /sports cars segment which will be now 10% of the overall stock.
Luxury Ride has a wide range of most premium luxury brands from Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar, Lexus, Mini, and Land Rover to Bentley and other 50 different luxury cars. We have added Lamborghini recently to our portfolio which will cost customers Rs 1.25 crore and if they purchase a new one it will cost them Rs 4.7 cr.