Aptly called “Aspirer to Inspirer” by THE HINDU, Asheesh Chadha has single-handedly steered the Wheeler Cleaner towards its present-day colossal stature. He has also taken his passions to greater horizons with Mojojojo, a unit of Wheeler Cleaner – an eco-friendly zone and experience centre for bikes. Although it was long overdue, we finally caught up with Asheesh for a chat.
As a harbinger of Sustainable Work Places, what are your top philosophies regarding Sustainable Work Places (SWP)?
I am highly inspired by SWPs and the legends of the industry – who have shown that sustainability is a by-product of specific best-practises that create a work environment conducive to it. For a business to be sustainable, the A to Z of its best-practices should be in place. We need to-take-care-of and sustain every person, machine, and the process involved along the way.
What are the things you have implemented in your organisation which would be of benefit to your company?
Since we are in the service industry, the focus has always been after-sales. While most people can do great sales and delivery, there is still an after-sales loophole. E.g. When you walk into a mobile store, they make you feel special until you finally buy that Smartphone. But, when that phone develops a snag, and you return to that same store, you are treated like an untouchable.
That’s where we come into the picture. We strive to make our after-sales experience into a treat for the client. We have developed a 93% retention rate. Many of our customers come back purely for an after-sales experience. Why?
We believe that human errors can happen. Instead of shying away from customers or saying “Sorry, we can’t rectify that”, we have implemented a policy that ensures that our after-sales service is fantastic. Every time a client comes back, it is because of our sales policy that feels like a breath of fresh air. It inevitably ensures more business.
What are the two key takeaways which you would like to share, with us or others who want to turn any organisation into an SWP?
It’s been a personal endeavour. Two things are crucial here: (1) Sustainable Growth and (2) “Sustainable Work Place”. If the after-sales service is top-notch, the retention rate would be higher.
However, as a growing organisation with Pan India footprint, now we are even more conscious about the environment around us. Issues like global warming necessitate every business to adopt environment-friendly practices.
We also ensure environmental conservation during product delivery. We make sure we won’t harm the environment and take care of intricate details. We also make the workplace eco friendly by using organic chemicals, recycling of water, and migrating to steam instead of water. While we are not there 100%, we are trying hard – since we have to give back to the environment. Our actions also impact the client ecosystem, especially the new generation. A big chunk of our client base keeps coming back to us – as they feel that they are doing their bit for achieving a greener planet.
How important is it to have a Sustainable Work Place, and what are the challenges that made you think in this direction?
We are into the segment of vehicle detailing. If we are not environmentally conscious, we may end up harming the immediate environment as well as the planet in general. We have made conscious efforts to incorporate it into our manufacturing process. All the packaging for internal purposes is done using recycled material. We use organic chemicals that are not volatile and pose no threat to the environment. We also ensure that the shampoo we use is as close to pH neutral as possible. It has taken a while, but the organisation is growing.
Any change comes with a cost; that is why most entrepreneurs are hesitant. Why invest if they don’t pay off in the short run? But if you are a true entrepreneur and do your research – you will understand that most investments pay for themselves in a short period. The goodwill we create also counts.
I always encourage young entrepreneurs to adopt sustainability; it will not become a financial burden. Adopting these practices will turn your business profitable.
What was the most defining moment of your career?
Landing in the heritage city of Mysru was one of those defining moments. I’m basically from Mumbai; so I would call myself a reverse migrant. The city chose me. Nobody had ever imagined that this would go on to become a national level business. I’m a frank and honest person, just like this Mysuru, so I feel that it is a match made in heaven.
What would you like to share with other organisations to help them move to sustainability?
During the Covid – 19 scenario, a lot of my entrepreneur friends consulted me. I told them one thing “During testing times your character mettle is tested”. When the lockdown was announced, we emailed all employees assuring them that they will be taken care of- irrespective of how long it will be there. NOBODY MIGRATED. When the lockdown was eased – they were full of zeal and enthusiasm and ready to put in extra hours. Their dedication was unparalleled. Our employees have become advocates for our business culture and are spreading the word!
While it was a challenging time for everyone ~ it was also a testing time for business leaders. While many fired their employees, a few entrepreneurs took a firm stand, “No matter what happens, we are going to take care of you!” While finances are an integral part of any business, it is also essential to grow in character! So this is what I would advise fellow entrepreneurs. Do not be afraid of pandemic situations; this is the right time to invest in more growth and more marketing. There are a lot of people out there who are looking for new opportunities. Some of them could also be your new clients.
During these Covid-19 times, we launched a new concept Mojojojo, while other businesses were contemplating whether to shut down temporarily or remain open. The confidence this gave to our new investors is incredible. To sell the first 60 units of the Wheeler Cleaner franchise – it took three years (up until the March lockdown). Hardly four months into the lockdown, our status changed to “89 units sold. Mojojojo is India’s largest bike detailing chain”. The growth has been fantastic. I think the character that we displayed instilled more confidence. As of today, Mojojojo is India’s most extensive bike detailing chain with 118 centres covering 68000 sqft and over 480 employees.
What do you feel about the future of sustainable living – personally and professionally post Covid – 19?
Our way of living has been altered post-Covid – 19, but for the better. It is the way you look at it that counts. I have personally incorporated a lot of calcium, fruits, and green vegetables into my diet. Today our hygiene levels have collectively gone up. Today we greet others with a traditional Namaste – rather than shake hands. So we have gone back to our roots. If we examine our traditional way of living, whenever we come home from outside, we wash our hands, take a bath before we eat. For a country like India, the pandemic is showed us the Vedic way of living which has always existed. Instead of fighting with the change, we should learn to go with the flow. These habits of cleanliness and eating healthy are imbibed in our Indian culture. When it comes to sustainability in business, we are using recycled water. So our investment in sustainability is not haunting us.
So I would tell everybody to embrace sustainability, even if it causes inconvenience for a short time. In the long run, it is going to pay rich dividends, and you will never regret it.
Under your leadership, what changes have you made in the field of sustainability?
We had our biometric system disabled so that nobody touches the same contaminated surface.
We started an alternate day work schedule for employees so that social distancing can be maintained.
We have discarded our standard water cooler and encourage employees to get their water bottles, as well as food – so that they don’t have to go out.
We sanitise the premises three times a day.
We maintain social distancing.
Back Office: Our crucial daily meetings have changed to a conference call.
Front End: Every customer’s vehicle that arrives is sanitised and left untouched for 2 hours. After the required process is carried out, and before delivery, we sanitise the entire bike again. It remains untouched until the customer picks it up himself. Our professional detailers follow rigorous parameters in terms of wearing gloves, using masks, personal hygiene habits. Each of our staff is sanitised before they get down to work.
Warehouse: The entire is sanitised and isolated for seven days – post-human contact. Even the bottles are sanitised and isolated before we dispatch them to any of our centers.
Consciously we are taking a lot of effort, and incorporated a lot of best-practices into our business processes. We are happy with the things we are doing and plan to continue with them in the Post Covid – 19 future.
What is the best part of working towards environmental sustainability?
The best part comes when I ask entrepreneurs, “Why are you in business?” Initially, it starts with “I love being my boss”. As you grow, you go beyond financial gains and start working for satisfaction. However, when you are in a sustainable workplace, it gives you pleasure on multiple levels. Knowing that we are contributing to a sustainable environment and adopting the best practices in this pandemic situation – gives us great happiness. So, the tangible benefits are financial returns, while the intangible benefits come from joy and satisfaction.
So, if somebody is not practising it, my advice would be, “Go ahead and adopt SWPs. You will see the tangible and intangible benefits. You will be satisfied that you are humbly contributing towards a greener world.
What message would you like to convey about saving water and making organisations eco friendly?
I want entrepreneurs to associate themselves with some form of water conservation society or NGO. We have places where they have no rain. People walk 30-40 miles to get clean water; it is disheartening! As an organization, there are multiple ways you can reuse water – even if it is just for gardening, cleaning, and flushing. Just knowing that such a system exists can be your first step towards saving water and helping society at large.
My peers are from Mumbai, where water is a very precious resource. For them, getting a recycling plant done is something that pays off immediately. So sooner than later, we will migrate to a society where we will have to pay hefty water bills. The tangible benefit is when our customers come to know that we are engaged in sustainable practices – they come back to us because they feel that they are also contributing to society by doing business with us. Sustainability should not be limited to a small group of people. If somebody is not there yet, I will urge them to adopt sustainable practices and experience happiness on a different level.