Banking on fleet standardisation

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Sri Bhagiyalakshmi Travels is banking on fleet standardisation among other new and non-traditional ways to grow.

Story by:

Ashish Bhatia

Established in 1989 by G Dayalan, Chennai-based Sri Bhagiyalakshmi Travels (SBLT) is banking on sound management practices, fleet standardisation and regular route reviews to grow. Looked upon as a ‘one-stop’ shop for all travel and tour arrangements, SBLT has grown to posses a fleet of 700 vehicles from two omni buses in 1989. Doubling the business to four omni buses in 1993, the company entered the corporate sector in 1996. Setting new customer satisfaction benchmarks through out its journey, SBLT continues to constantly focus upon service quality, periodic employee re-training, software and hardware upgradation. With a turnover of Rs.110 crore per annum according to D. Maran, son of G Dayalan and the managing director of the company, SBLT has come to employ 1500 people.

With branches at Annanagar, Koyambedu (CMBT), Poonamallee, Sriperumbudur and Parrys in Chennai, SBLT, according to Maran, has grown on the faith of its loyal customers and on referrals. “To build on a fundamentally strong base and keep growing, we are banking on pioneering ideas on fleet standardisation and route review among other key metrics,” said Maran.

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Exploring markets outside India, SBLT is looking at taking the pilgrimage tour route. Already offering tour packages to popular pilgrimage and historical destinations in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, SBLT, with semi-sleeper, sleeper and air-conditioned buses in its fleet. Out of the fleet of 700 vehicles that SBLT has, 600 vehicles are of the Ashok Leyland make. Expressed Maran, “Plying all over Chennai, our fleet is particularly known for its daily trips to regions like Peravurani and Ramnad among others.” Conducting ‘Hi-Tech’ daily bus trips across South India – to destinations in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, from Chennai, SBLT has Volvo premium buses in its fleet too. These are in the 24-, 35- and 54-seater form, and help to serve diverse customer needs. Apart from the premium Volvo buses, the company also has Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) of Swaraj Mazda, Tata Motors and Force Motors make in its fleet. It has smaller vehicles like Tata Sumo, Toyota Qualis, Toyota Innova, and Chevrolet Tavera too. Reflecting SBLT’s ability to address a diverse variety of customers, the fleet is adding a dimension to standardise. Having come to command a reputation for providing solutions as per the client need, the company, mentioned Maran, has made a name for itself in the corporate sector. Multi-national companies like Foxconn India Ltd., EID Parry (India) Ltd., Honeywell Electrical Devices and Systems (I) Ltd., Technical Stampings Automotive Ltd., Machellan Integrated Services India Pvt. Ltd., Hexaware Technologies Ltd., MMM Academy of Medical Sciences, Injecto Plast Pvt. Ltd., PHC Manufacturing Pvt. Ltd., Addision Pvt. Ltd., SSL TTK Ltd., Reliance Infocomm Ltd., and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., have come to avail of SBLT services, said Maran.

If a clientele like this provides impetus for growth, SBLT is looking at non-traditional ways to manage the business. To scale up the operations is important, averred Maran. Touching upon the opportunities and challenges that lie in front of the company, Maran stated, “Transportation has come a long way in the country. It has improved. However, the field is fast changing. Key metrics like passenger comfort, pattern of journey, fleet network, technology and communication are undergoing a massive change. The need is to find new ways to keep growing.” Stressing upon the need to work the key metrics to attain a successful working model, Maran opined that much depends upon the transport policy. “Like the Goods and Services Tax (GST), there is a need for a single passenger transportation tax across the country,” opined Maran. He drew attention to notification 128 (10) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, which emphasises on seats in tourist buses and speaks of push back seats and footrests. Of the opinion that the national notification could benefit the industry if the provision for sleeper berths are permitted, Maran explained, “The rule today states that sleeper coaches with national permits are illegal.”

Targeting point-to-point travel and staff transportation segments, SBLT, to attain growth, is looking at active government intervention. “Government intervention is necessary to develop infrastructure like roads and well equipped terminals,” stated Maran. Drawing attention to the rising demand for electric vehicles, Maran said that a move like this could actually turn out to be more profitable for a company like his. “Such interventions over a period of time will make it all the more lucrative for companies like SBLT to upgrade their fleet. We are open to procuring fully electric buses and play a role in the transport ecosystem to help lower the carbon footprint,” signed off D. Maran.

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