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Book aids Suzuki dealers on India visit

The booklet aims to acquaint the dealers with all the subtle nuances of life in India and its diverse customs and languages.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 13:17 IST

Some 2,400 Japanese automobile dealers invited to the country by Suzuki are being armed with a special tool to help them negotiate the diverse challenges faced by most foreigners in India - an 82-page booklet.

The booklet - replete with pictures and all sorts of dos and don'ts - has layouts of the hotels where the dealers are being hosted by Suzuki Motor Company and even the correct way to fill out a disembarkation card at the airport.

The booklet aims to acquaint the dealers, who are being brought to the country in batches of about 200, with all the subtle nuances of life in India and its diverse customs and languages.

It includes important contact numbers, menu details for each meal and sunrise and sunset timings for each day of the fortnight that the dealers will be in India.

"We have left nothing to chance. From the layout of Maruti showrooms they are visiting to what the numbers one, two and three on the air conditioner knobs in the hotels stand for - every detail is covered in the booklet," a Maruti Udyog Ltd spokesperson said.

The visits to India are "incentive" trips for top performing Japanese Suzuki dealers, some of whom participated in a dealers' conference hosted by Suzuki chairman and chief executive Osamu Suzuki last week.

With trips to select Maruti dealerships and a visit to a new factory at Manesar in Haryana thrown in, apart from mandatory sightseeing trips to Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, the choice of India is significant.

Maruti began as a joint venture between Suzuki Motor Company and the Indian government almost 23 years ago. With the latter slowly divesting its stake in the auto major, parent company Suzuki now holds a 54 percent stake in the Indian four-wheeler market leader.

"Suzuki dealers visiting Maruti in India is an endorsement of the importance being accorded to Maruti and India in Japan," Maruti's managing director Jagadish Khattar had said when the first batch of Japanese dealers arrived in the country.

This probably is indicative of where Maruti has come from a moderate beginning in 1983 to producing over five million vehicles in the past 23 years and being the market leader in India for most of that period.

With Maruti selling 516,000 units through 300 dealers - compared to about 700,000 units sold by 3,500 Suzuki dealers in Japan - it is becoming increasingly clear that India is not just catching up but is now dishing out lessons of excellence to the Japanese.

This has prompted even Osamu Suzuki to ask his dealers to "to catch up or be ready to be overtaken" and "observe the best practices of Maruti and its dealers".

The Japanese dealers themselves went back enlightened with lessons on sales, especially related to Suzuki's biggest selling model - Swift - which has been a runaway success in India, where over 50,000 units have been sold compared to a much smaller number in Japan.

"The Japanese dealers went back very impressed. They probably did not expect Indian dealers to be as good as they are. In Japan, dealerships are small but several of our dealerships even have restaurants and other facilities," the Maruti spokesperson said.

"They went back pleasantly surprised with lessons on the success story of the Swift. More importantly, our dealers stressed the significance of sensitivity to individual cultures."

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 12:04 IST