Savaari Brings Car Rental Services Online-Can This Be The redBus Of Cab Business?

Pluggd.in has been profiling car rental services for the last few weeks and while some of these (services) are regional in nature, Savaari brings pan-India coverage for car rental services. Apart from regular car rental benefits of information aggregation, Savaari brings in a few differentiators:

a. Payment: while booking, you only pay 10% to the site and rest when the cab arrives.

b. Car Packages: The company has travel packages for inter-city travels to some of the regular travel destinations (like Jaisalmer/Dharamshala etc).

c. Branding: The team has focused on creating a brand focused user experience – especially at different touch points (like branded duty slips/placards etc).

While websites of all car rental services do not give a direct peek into their quality of service, we bring you a detailed QnA with Savaari team (Gaurav Aggarwal):

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QN: What’s the team background/prior experience before starting Savaari? What’s the current team size?

My family has been in the transport business for two generations. Based on their experience, I have learnt that there are no quick ways to evolve this business and you have to get the operations right to succeed. The key to get that right is that you satisfy one customer, learn from it before you get on to the second customer.

It was in 2006 when I was travelling from Mumbai to Delhi and had to go to Roorkee. But after reaching Delhi, I found no reliable option to book a car. This is when I realized the need of a reliable car rental that is available 24×7 where the customer is assured of a clean, fully functioning car and an informed courteous driver. I decided to analyze the scope of the future of car rental in India and soon I found that not only there is no standard and quality assurance in this sector but also that there are no national players. There are franchises of some western companies present but they are serving only to a niche segment.

I have a Masters in Computer Science from Georgia Tech and have worked for 10 years in a networking company in the Bay area. I was involved in router development. The experience of working in such a complex environment helped me in designing a completely customized and scalable backend for Savaari from scratch. I have been managing technology, marketing and business development in Savaari.

Soon after we started, Mohit Khanna came on board. He brought with him an entrepreneurial experience of a decade of running a company that printed bar codes for Brass Export. He heads operations in Savaari and has been responsible in growing our network to 53 cities while ensuring quality standards for each booking. Manik Shah joined us a year later. He brings with him sales and customer support experience having worked in travel and BPO industry in various executive roles. He heads customer support at Savaari and also manages all our corporate accounts.

There are currently 17 employees managing operations, customer support, sales and IT including senior management team of 3. We also have 2 advisors helping us with brand and business development and 3 consultants in the team for marketing and accounting.

QN: How are you funding Savaari?

We are entirely bootstrapped. We had put in money initially which was used to put up a website, get the backend in place to get started. Given how unorganized the market is from the beginning our focus was to: develop a service model to deliver quality car rentals across India, build a business model where we keep our prices nominal and a financial model so that we can make money while doing so. We have been cash flow positive since our second year.  This has helped us stay our course to get ready for our growth phase.

With an experience of over 30,000 car days, we have proof of concept, right team, processes (including driver training), scalable backend, marketing and strategic vision in place to build a brand for quality car rentals across India at nominal rates. We will be doing so by consolidating a large part of this highly unorganized industry.

QN: You are also selling packages (and in general targeting MICE category) – what’s the current sales distribution?

We are catering to both the business and leisure segment of market. The business segment includes MICE companies. We also have hundreds of well thought out packages to choose from which cater to the leisure market. Currently, our revenue is distributed equally between business and leisure. We will continue catering to both but going forward will lay more emphasis on the business customers. This is because the business segment is around 72% of the market. Thus, going forward we expect our revenues to come more from business customers.

QN: What’s your target segment? for e.g.: is it intercity/intra? Retail vs. Corporates?

The market is divided into airport (and also point to point) and non-airport (local full day/outstation). While airport is around 14%, it is the remaining 86% that is our target market. Though broadly the requirements for service standards are same for retail and corporate (part of non-airport segment), there are nuances like corporates requiring credit, and mostly using cars for intra city travel which makes these two segments different. Thus we have different strategies for catering to retail and corporate customers. We will continue focusing on the non-airport market which is a combination of both inter/intra city and retail/corporate. So far, 40% of our revenues are coming from retail customers and the remaining 60% are from corporate customers including our travel partners.

QN: Most of the car rental sites are ‘regional’ in nature, owing to operational overhead of this business. What’s your ambition/way forward?

Savaari will be India’s car rental company that brings national standards, regional overhead business model and local customer centered operations.  This is the perfect blend to be the sustained leader in car rental in India. Based on the transport experience that my family has, we knew to successfully run this business there is a lot of local help and context that is needed. This is the reason, we decided to use these local transporters as building blocks and build processes in place around them so that we can deliver quality services across India. This way we not only had the regional experience, but also same standards across India.

However, this was just the first half in building a pan India car rental company. The other part was to build a model so that right from the point the customer gets in touch with us to the point they get bill from us, they interact with Savaari and its standards and in case there is any issue, it is Savaari that takes the responsibility. Even now in all our bookings, the customer sees Savaari placard, Savaari chauffeur card, Savaari duty slip and Savaari branded newspaper and water bottles.

To the end customer we are a pan India car rental company and at the backend to provide services, we have decided to aggregate local players. Going forward, we plan to increase our number of cities and the number of local transporters in our existing cities and complete Savaari branding in terms of drivers’ uniform and the cars’ exteriors on a pan India basis. We also plan to build a GPS integrated device to better manage our services, automate corporate billing entirely and provide value added services to customers.

As a business, aren’t you competing with a phone call (to car operators’ number)? What’s your USP?

Yes, on one hand we are competing with them.  But on the other, this internal competition keeps us on our toes and strives to be the leader in this industry.  Over the years we have been able to turn a potentially competitive situation into a win-win partnership. The local operators understand the value of associating with Savaari as they see the top line sales potential, where Savaari helps them maximize sales locally and also from areas outside their area of influence.

Savaari is bringing in world class service standards with 24×7 availability, pan India presence, quality car rentals and nominal pricing. I am assured that continual investment in technology and talent will keep us at the front of the pack and guarantee long term success.

DO give Savaari a savaari and share your opinion.