During the tourism season used premium cars attracts NRIs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and corporate come in by the droves, Michael Fisher finds out.
For over three decades, the used car trade has been on the rise in Goa. It has steadily increased the retail market share from a handful of 10 dealers in late 1980s to as many today. Babu Borker of Raj Motors has built a reputation that has reached all over Goa too, he was instrumental in introducing the premier brands as good as new selling at 2nd hand prices.
Babu says he has had enough and handed over the used car reins business to his son Raju Borker, 22, young and fancy free and gets a thrill dabbling with accounts. Babu started the business in 1983 when buying and selling was barely one car a day. And two-wheelers ruled the streets and roads of Goa.
The pre-used car would be bought from the buyer of a new car who has no use of his old car. He sells it for Rs50,000 onwards to a little less than a lakh of rupees if it is top of the range cars. The profit margin says Raju was small, because we are very generous with them and give it to them for a song. The kid is dabbling with accounts and giving marketing talks.
They were just a handful of 10 dealers in Goa. Babu started his business in Aquem, and then shifted to Davorlim where it has the capacity to store 22 to 25 premium cars. Now the Raj Motors has two showrooms, Darvolim and Riaia Crossroads building.
The exchange and trading pattern changed constantly. Brokers never existed at that time, says Raju and it was outright buying and selling. The cars were Maruti, Padmini Premier, Ambassador of Hindustan Motors’ and a few Morris minors.
After 1997, all the brands started to enter Goa, including luxury cars. New dealerships showroom started to emerge. Most dealers adopted the park & sell. Park your car here, if a buyer comes along and is interested he would purchase it. Through this method brokers came in.
Babu came up with a marketing idea and started tying up with car dealerships. Babu would buy the used car from them, being their used car dealer. Meaning a customer who buys a new car from the dealer showroom sells his second had car exclusively to Babu. Till date this agreement between Babu and dealers stays. So supplying of cars to Raj Motors was constant.
Raj Motors deals only premium cars selling double digit in lakhs of rupees costing no more than half the cost of a new car. Our criterion for buying a used car is non-accidental cars with clear service history and clean body lines. The body language of the car says it all.
Prior to buying a used top of the range car from us, we first explain the usage of the vehicle its type be it Sedan, SUV or Hatchback, per day running of the car and they preference petrol or diesel and the number of owners it had. Whatever may be the history of the car we keep it transparent for the buyer. Today, on a monthly average we are buying and selling 15 to 20 cars in spite of a downturn market.
“During the tourism and holiday season people such as NRIs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and corporate come in by the droves,” Raju says with excitement.
This sector is having its joys and sorrows. The best times we have seen was when the mining industry was going on. They would come leave the money on the counter, grab the key and disappear with the car. The next day we would go to the respective mining office with the paperwork for the signatures. The main reason the used car market is down is because mining is ban. From November to February it’s peak time business for us. NRIs and weddings flood the showrooms. So far because of our clean reputation, we have succeeded in the business, and survived the recession.
We are not alone the competition has become more challenging with internet online buying. Here the customers meet a large number of buyers and sellers eradicating the actual presence of the used car dealer, giving us a tough time. In the past it was advertisement, today it is online, and even advertisements in this sector sare drying up.
Because of dad’s goodwill his name rings a bell when it comes to buying and selling vehicles even as far as North Goa customers come here. Building loyal customers builds future traffic. So it is important to keep our customers coming back, says the kid.
Even though the prices have dipped considerably, buyers want BMWs, Mercs and Audi for a much lower than the second hand profit margin money, he says. Customers want the vehicles below Rs20 lakhs. Citing an example he says for new BMW 520D cost Rs59 lakhs. The model with us is selling for Rs22 lakhs, less than the new BMW car by Rs37 lakhs, and in spite of it being a fair deal the buyer is hesitant, and ringing me to still lower the price.
Raju Motors is also blessed with the reputation for expertise. “No one knows your vehicle better than Babu and Raju”. When the GST or the single taxation is enforced the price will be comparably less. Hope this happens soon.