By Sumana Sarkar, Copy Editor, Autocar Professional
The dynamics of a used car dealership are very different from a new car showroom. In the absence of the glitz and glamour of brand-new cars, it is business models that helps mint money from the rusty old beauties. Ajay Bhatia, Director of Car Supermart, one of the oldest and reputed used car dealers in Jaipur City, throws light on how he made his mark amidst rows of old dilapidated cars and made ‘used cars the new craze’
Car Supermart is a premier Mahindra First Choice outlet, one of the most famous names associated with the used car business. It is located in the upmarket Sodala Area and has an average stock of over 70 vehicles on display at any given time. From entry segments to high-end premium vehicles, there is never any dearth of options for buyers. is also the President of the Used Car Vehicle Association, Jaipur, believes that it is his business ethics that makes the difference. Car Supermart is known for selling good-quality certified cars with customer satisfaction as its primary objective.
Here are some excerpts of an interview with Ajay Bhatia.
Can you elaborate on your business journey and what led you to the used car business?
My entry in the used car business was rather dramatic. At the age of 27, I had a partnership business that got cancelled. I had no money left and had to ask my father for funds. My father did not give me any; instead, he gave me his old car and said I could sell it and raise the funds I needed. That is when I got a first-hand experience of the dynamics of the market. I understood the malpractices in the business and also realised the potential of this business if it is done honestly. That was my stepping stone.
Trust is a key factor in this business. How do you work towards establishing it?
Typically, customers demand non-accidental vehicles and non-tampered odometers. Till the time the customer is sure about them, he/she will not commit. So we provide the vehicle and service record to make sure our customer’s trust is ensured. In case, despite our best efforts, if an issue crops up with the vehicle, we don’t shrug off our responsibilities. Instead, we offer additional support to develop trust and ensure customer satisfaction.
Digitisation is making its effects felt across the automotive eco-system. What type of digitisation are we seeing in the used car segment?
After Covid, the role of digitisation has increased by leaps and bounds. Increasingly, we see customers keen about checking and exploring details online first, before stepping into the showroom. We are also liaising with 3D platform developers to make the virtual car buying experience a reality for our customers. Once they approve the 3D images, we also send the vehicle to their house for a physical test drive, if they choose to engage in one. Today, it is possible for them to also complete the entire paperwork within the comfort of their house.
What are the type of models/segments that are seeing maximum traction in used car segment?
Small cars are seeing huge traction at the moment. We are seeing maximum demand for cars with a ticket price up to INR 4 lakh. An interesting development after COVID is that everyone is looking for small, practical and affordable cars. There is a slide in demand for larger cars, especially luxury cars.
What is the current mix of sales, in terms of cash and finance? Is it any different than the pre-COVID period?
So far in Rajasthan, we had noticed that the majority of customers opted to buy cars without loans or any financial help. Before COVID, customers opting for finance schemes and loans was quite low, about 35-40 percent. However, this number has shot up significantly after COVID and it is close to 60 percent at the moment.
The push for personal mobility, coupled with attractive schemes by banks, is facilitating this conversion. We have got big support from AU Bank in this regard. In some case, they have even provided 95 percent funding. However, this also depends on the customer profile.
With car owners holding on longer to their vehicles, is the used car market facing major challenges, especially in certain segments?
Yes, there is a huge supply drop, vehicle prices are rising and may shoot up further as a result of the dwindling stocks in the used car segment. Financial uncertainty in the market is also exacerbating the challenges.
With youth forming a growing base of car buyers, is the used car gaining more social acceptance in India?
There is huge demand across age groups but we are seeing significant traction from the youth. Nearly 60-75 percent of our buyers are youth. Their age and preferences coupled with the necessity for personal mobility form a key driver for sales.
What is the impact of BS VI implementation on demand for used car demand/supply?
Actually, the used car market got an advantage with the introduction of BS VI. The higher prices of BS VI cars diverted a lot of car buyers to the used car segment and led to higher demand for used cars.
How many point checks does a used car typically go through at your dealership?
We follow all check points followed by Mahindra First Choice. Apart from that, we also offer aftersales support to our customers and work towards their complete satisfaction. After COVID, we have also introduced sanitisation of cars, conducted in front of the customer, just before delivery.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not purport to reflect the views or opinions of AU Bank or its employees.