Thursday, July 18, 2013

Car Care at its best

3M Car Care Center India

I pass through this outlet almost everyday but have always been on a rush. This time around, I stopped by and experienced first hand what they have to offer. I am referring to the 3M Car Care outlets which have sprung up across the country quietly but drawing attention from car enthusiasts and those who love to maintain their cars spic and span. These outlets are franchised and are managed by capable entrepreneurs who have an inclination towards the automotive business and customer service. Spread between 1,500 sft – 4,000 sft covering three different business models, these stores provide complete car care which include the following;

  • Car Detailing
    • Interiors / Exteriors
    • Corrosion Treatment
    • Films for sun protection
  • Car Care products Retailing
  • Car Graphics
  • Customer Engagement
  • DIY Bays

photo 2

I was warmly welcomed by a service staff who knew his subject well – he explained the different packages they offered and justified why they were expensive. There were already two vehicles which were undergoing treatment – a Mercedes S Class and a Renault Duster. I asked him how is the business doing and he gave a smile, meaning things were doing quite well. Location was not totally a disaster though. It is located on the Beach Road, close to the iconic Light House (in Chennai). Although I felt it could have been located more strategically. Another gentleman walked over to me shortly and started interacting. Introducing himself as Vijay, he informed that he was the Franchisee Owner of the store. He explained in great depth his interest in automobiles, cars and bikes alike and his love for taking good care of them. According to him, the investment on the store including security deposit is around a crore (though I felt it was quite high) and the monthly business was about 15 lakhs with a margin of 35% on Sales.

The customer lounge is powered by lighting wifi and one can use the facility while the car is being spruced up. Customers have written their compliments and feedback on Post-Its, which is incidentally one of the most iconic products of 3M.

photo 1

The company has taken up print advertisements recently which has helped increase walk-ins but what they actually need to do is much more – own the category and grow it too. The market size for Car Accessories in India is estimated to be over Rs. 1,000 crore, most of which is unorganized. Car Dealerships and private players like Carnation,3M, etc. have a huge potential, given the shoddy ways of getting your car done up at busy street-side shops. If marketed well, this could be a viable Retail model and is easily scalable. Like in many other cases, I see a bigger opportunity in smaller towns across the country where people take good care of their possessions.

For me, its about making up my mind for a 20K bill – sooner than later, I would be there!

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