Explore case study on Quba’s humble journey beginning from a warehouse in Rajkot to becoming a recognized and trusted Architectural Hardware Brand in India; by building on its foundations and realizing dreams of being functional and chic.
Where the journey started…
An architectural hardware brand catering all over India with its well engineered products
- Established in 2010
- Employees: 200+
- Corporate: Mumbai, India
Quba architectural products was established in 2010 reaching around 500 dealers across India in a short span of time. This heavy founder led business, had two core strengths- its products and market. When J.hirani came across this bright eyed business for the first time, its sales were 90% founder led with only a few markets having sales members. There were a handful of executives operating from a small office in Rajkot looking after back office transactions management and warehousing.
The business vision was loud, but clad with many concerns regarding where to start and how to start. Team commitment was not the problem but team was handicapped with merging responsibilities and unplanned management.
The business was basic, for long been type casted as a door handle company. The team structure inexperienced with no hierarchies and managerial positions.
Soon the dream-run speeded down, as expansion brought issues to the fore. Direct management of channel partners leaving little time with promoters to close on new customers and making them loyal towards the brand, unheard customer voices, rising warehouse costs, unplanned procurement, delayed deliveries, to name a few.
However, in this journey of fast growth, complexities started crawling up at the same speed. As the work kept on increasing, more number of people were employed on the same positions leading to a wider span of control between managers and executives. Data and communications became tough to be managed. There was little to no focus on growth or improvements. Departments became hard silos and kept their focus strong on getting things done in their purview. Nobody had the idea how this zero cross functional knowledge and coordination was going to hurt them. Gradually issues started presenting themselves. Departments received complaints from customers, team and other departments; but with no one to answer them. Everyone was busy doing their work and yet they had nobody to stop and revise the roles they had to play in this large organization with challenges seeping in every day. The slowness started to be reflected in growth in sales, production and individuals alike. It was hurting its people as much as it was hurting its management.
There was lesser and lesser time to manage micro challenges as macro transactions did not leave enough time at hand. Management knew they were taking wrong steps and with a running business at hand, they could not afford to change and realign the way they work without major slip-ups.
- Slowing sales growth rate
- Less time with promoters for strategic growth due to direct sales involvement
- Slow addition of loyal customers
- Gap of a brand identity
- Inability to plan operations, absence of managerial team
- Unavailability of data for important business decisions
- Multiplying micro operational challenges
- No organization structure
- Rising warehouse costs, delayed
- From basic business to professionally run organization
- Moving founders from operations and sales by revising their roles
- Recruiting new team
- Sales and Marketing strategy for growth
- Smoothening operations with a new structure and SOPs
Consistent dreaming, in-consistent sales
With well-designed products and decent market penetration, Quba was happy and managing its activities well. What it did not want, was to stay consistent in the same speed of growth. It wanted to expand and build big. The dream was apparent; with lack of planning.
With passing of time, Quba was slowly growing, but a closer look at data revealed a challenge. It was not able to add new loyal customers. The existing customers had direct relationship with promoters which required them to invest major time in managing the existing customers.
Apart from lack of strategies on new customer acquisition, it was also affected by industry competition. Industry worked on the model of commissions, relationship building schemes was upheld by other brands to suck sales out from counters.
Management and executives with no in between
Quba was formed by its founders combining their varied strengths. While one took after products, the others took to sales with some attention to finance. They were excellent and passionate salesmen who knew from day one what they wanted to place in the market. And they achieved it remarkably well.
The key function in the business was restricted to sales and processing those sales.
While this was running ok, with growing volumes, came in multiple internal as well as external challenges. A lack of managerial input spread with symptoms of team inability to plan ahead and show their true orientation towards work. Team commitment was not the issue but team management was. A lack of sales ecosystem resulted in frustrations of founders coming from sparse knowledge of business numbers, unheard customers, decreasing counter strengths and inactivating dealers due to absence of relationship management planning.
There was an absence of ecosystem encompassing important functions, activities and team. People and Management were doing what was required. The work culture was apparently void of clear rules and responsibilities making planning inefficient. And therefore all functions from sales, procurement, back office, accounting to warehousing were not based on planning.
Bottle necks ran deep due to absence of plans and job responsibilities.
Shifting to New Phase
KEY PLANS MADE AND IMPLEMENTED TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS
- Turnkey business transformation by J.hirani project team
- Building an ecosystem with new structure and processes
- Design of strong policies to avoid commercial and legal challenges during expansion
- New brand image with BTL strategies and execution management
- Dealer programs and schemes for long term commitment and higher sales.
- Call centre set up attending to customer voice
- Assisting product strategy and map
- Designing the revenue strategy along with a strong distribution system
- Strategies for attracting right man power
- Dashboards for reviewing business
A new face of sales
The first pillar J.hirani established was how the business was operated. It was important to have founders available to guide strategically and pass on the managerial and operations role to J.hirani team. J.hirani would focus on the project as turn-key, confirming the desired culture and operations and then passing it back to a professional team.
It was imperative that founders dealt with important functions by making time from field sales.
Therefore, the second pillar J.hirani established was a new face of Quba. By bringing in a professional sales team, new brand identity in the market, and a customer support center.
Quba identified itself with an established sports person as the brand ambassador. The image established was buoyant, reliable, complete architecture hardware solution.
Various BTL strategies were implemented to support the new found identity. A professional sales and support team was recruited and oriented.
The market commission model was respected with attractive dealer program and schemes.
Founder resistance was the first and foremost during transformation. It was difficult letting go off sales and operations for them, but by instituting policies and processes capturing the essence of what founders believed in, we were able to strengthen their faith in the change.
In a period of 3 years, Quba was able to experience improved partner relationship, culture and operations.
- The sales increased to 3 fold
- Geographically, it expanded existing portfolio of 500 to 3000 dealers, currently (10,000 dealers)
- The founder led sales was reduced to 20% from 90%
Keying even operations
The third important pillar established was a new structure and process. What was needed was a flexible structure that would support expansion of teams as we grow in sales. Operations were designed to match the speed of growth expected.
With the changes Quba was undergoing, it would be necessary to tweak operations and structure as we go. For this, it was a challenge to open existing team have such flexibility to adapt frequent re-arrangements during transformation. It was also tough recruiting positions, as the culture was not conducive for professional to join and contribute.
The project team at J.hirani took to this challenge through various trainings, mentorship programs, online and on-site visits. A substantial multilevel project was executed in spirit eyeing to the goal. J.hirani project team spread to all functions operations, marketing, HR, finance, sales and sales support.
The result was a smooth functioning business knowing what they were doing, being agile and supporting constant growth efforts.
Teams had their work plans, sales team had their data, founders had a growing business, culture was agile, customers were heard and market was aware of the brand.
Quba was able to and is upholding its position of a professional brand with fun at heart individuals.
A lot of time and effort were spend in implementation programs to ensure people know what they are working on, have meaningful work, and are able to perform and work cohesively. Teams were mentored on value chain, roles of departments and how to work in teams- giving a sense of how each area of work affects others.