Escalate

Excellent service the key to maintaining brands

- ALISHA SIJAPATI

Mar 6, 2017-Prakash Bajra Bajracharya is one of the directors at Bajra Group, which is involved in business ventures that include construction, real estate, sanitary ware and others. Bajracharya, who had a penchant for business from a young age, started his career by helping his family at their rice mill and later by managing a gas station. Currently, the Managing Director at Bajra & Bajracharya Enterprises, the authorised distributor of international sanitary ware brands such as—Hindware, Somany, CRW and Kohler, he also overlooks real estate interests such as Bajra Shangri-la Residency. In this interview with The Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Bajracharya talks about the rising popularity of international brands in the market and his management mantras. Excerpts:

Distributing sanitary ware is perhaps not a venture that immediately strikes one as appealing. How did you come to see it as a profitable venture?

I have four siblings who are involved with other business entities within the Bajra Group, one being construction. As they were already involved with the construction business, I wanted to start something from scratch. With a lot of brainstorming, I thought that trading sanitary wares would be an effective and profitable venture in Kathmandu because construction in the Capital is booming, and all new construction needs sanitation in their buildings. We started Bajra & Bajracharya Enterprises from a small retail store in Lagankhel. Growing from that small store, our enterprise now has chain networks all over the country.

How have consumer tastes evolved since you started your business?

If you look at the history, clean sanitation started in 16th century from Europe and in Nepal, for a long time, it was only limited to royal palaces. It took a long time for Nepali taste, with regards to sanitation, to evolve. When we started this business, we didn’t think the demand would grow in the way that it has. Earlier, bathrooms were limited to bowels and taps but now there is a drastic change in the taste of the consumers. They demand different style of sinks, mirrors, taps, tubs and Jacuzzis. Previously, bathrooms were a cause for embarrassment, today, it a symbol for style and sophistication—people want to show off their bathrooms, thanks to brand awareness and globalisation. 

How challenging is it for a company to live up to the customers’ expectations when promoting an international brand?

In today’s business world, especially in the service business, it is extremely crucial to know about your customers’ demands and live up to their expectations. Customers today are knowledgeable about everything that goes in and out of the market. Customers notice the products that they want to purchase, the pricing range and if it is environment-friendly. We are in the service business and it is our responsibility to make them happy through our services and products. In our company, we have plumbers, architects and technicians ready to reach out to the customers before and after sales. For us, it is a huge responsibility to take care of the customers’ need because we represent some of the most reputed brands of the world, especially Kohler, which is a 144-year-old company with international prestige. I hope with the services we provide, customers are happy and keep returning. 

What are your strategies for maintaining the standard of such valued international brands in Nepal?

We introduced Kohler to the Nepali market in 2009. At the time, the store was launched by the then US Ambassador to Nepal Nancy Jo Powell. She chose to inaugurate a sanitary business like ours because she was well aware of Kohler’s history and the popularity of the brand all over the world. This was a major boost for while introducing the brand in the market and we had confidence that it would work well. To maintain a brand, there needs to be a well-managed employees working behind the scenes—there is a lot of team work involved in maintaining a brand. You can only maintain a brand by giving proper services to the customers; it all boils down to that. 

Currently, there are many international hospitality groups opening their chains in the country and some existing ones are refurbishing and expanding too, which obviously is an added advantage to the business we are in as we have such reputed brands under our umbrella. The great word of mouth that has circulated among customers has also definitely helped us in making the brands bigger and better. The other benefit is that people believe in us because we directly import Kohler products from the US. There is a prestige that comes with owning something American. It is great to see that consumer tastes have evolved to a point where they now want and demand branded sanitation products in their bathrooms.

What are your management mantras?

Everything needs to be simple. Be at ease and use your experience. Take precaution before taking any step; that is the main mantra for success. Be positive, focus on managing your money, and providing superior service to that of your customers. If you maintain yourself and make yourself into a brand, people will trust and believe you. 

What advice do you have for those wanting to collaborate with international brands?

We all at a stage where consumers are tremendously brand conscious. The market is booming, with a lot of new brands entering the market every year. There are a lot of opportunities available if you tap the right market and the right brand.

Published: 06-03-2017 08:28

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