Interview with V R Chander, Head, CADD Centre, Coimbatore

"Customer Satisfaction:Key Ingredient for Success"

CADD Centre, Coimbatore is the first franchise of CADD Centre Training Services and is amongst the top 5 franchises in India in terms of revenue. Started with about 10 student enrollments in 1995, today the centre registers 100 enrollments per month, and has trained over 15,000 students over fifteen years.

"Having played a role in reaching CADD programmes to such a large number of students and professionals is what I consider the high moments of my career as a training provider," says Mr Chander, Head, CADD Centre, Coimbatore in an interview to us, while sharing his insights into various aspects of franchise business, and how CADD Centre's franchise support helps him grow his business.

For our existing franchises and those aspiring to enter into franchising, Chander’s sharing would prove to be inspiring. Excerpts:

What do you think are the high moments of your career as a training services provider? What inspires you to be a franchiser of an educational service?

In 1995, we made our choice to become the first franchise of CADD Centre, by opening the franchise centre in Coimbatore. Since I had been part of the CAD  industry earlier, it was easy for me to understand the unique and pioneering effort of CADD Centre in franchising the IT training services.

I was sure that the franchise model of CADD Centre was one of its kind business plan and was drafted with clarity and vision by the franchisor. What I thought has been proved right today by over 300 franchisees in India and abroad. I think education is the only solution for the sustenance, growth, and competitiveness of any economy and society. In India, education has succeeded in generating employment and bettering social welfare. But there is a very large gap between what is offered by the educational sector and the changing needs of the industry in terms of specific work skills. It is here that Cadd Centre comes into picture. We are providing the much needed thrust to training in industry specific skills and enhancing employability of engineering students. I believe that playing an effective role, as a CADD Centre franchise, in bridging the skill gap is both inspiring and fulfilling.

At Coimbatore, we have been conducting on site programmes such as workshops and seminars since 1998 at many colleges in this region to create awareness about new technologies and methodologies that are required in the work place. In addition to CAD, CAM, and CAE, CADD Centre had pioneered in introducing training programmes in project planning and management (PPM) in 2001. At Coimbatore, which is Tamil Nadu’s second largest industrialised city, we reached the project management programmes to the local industry. We have been successfully imparting PPM training to senior and middle managers in all large companies in Coimbatore such as ELGI, Janatics, LMW, L&T, Pricol,  Revathi,  Roots, Robert Bosch, and Suzlon.

In the last 15 years, we have trained nearly 15000 students and professionals, helping them shape their career paths for better. Having played a role in reaching CADD programmes to such a large number of students and professionals is what I consider the high moments of my career as a training provider.

What do you think are the important factors or practices that help a franchise to succeed in business? Which areas a franchise should focus always? And why?

The training package, resources, etc are offered to a franchise readily, but that does not mean franchising is an easy business. Though a franchisee is not a product developer, he should have absolute mastery over features and pricing of the product, as well as the support offered by the developers to the product users.

Like in any business, product quality and customer satisfaction are the two important factors that determine the success of the franchise. However, the support from, and relationship with the franchisor make all the difference. There should be open communication, and understanding in a franchise-franchisor relationship.

Once sure of the quality of the product, a franchise should diligently plan to get the training services across to the target audience in an appropriate and appealing manner. For this , the franchise should focus on putting together a great team, investing time and resources to train them, and have a real hands on approach to business.

Good healthy competition from other franchises is always good. Our cumulative responsibility is to grow our businesses together and in the process create a better and bigger brand.

To sum up, having conviction in the product and confidence in the market, being passionate about your work and maintaining high level of ethics in business, and integrity and transparency in the franchisee–franchisor relationship are some of the key ingredients for success in franchise business.

What are your top selling courses?

As for Coimbatore is concerned, mechanical CAD has always been the main attraction. However, in the last couple of years, Architectural and Civil CAD, Project Planning & Management courses are gaining importance. Very recently, programs in Interior Architectural Design has been attracting a number of students, especially women and interior design professionals.

How supportive is CADD Centre in expanding your business in terms of helping you in your investment plans, marketing, training, etc?

CADD Centre extends support in every possible manner, and at all times. Response time is immediate and constructive suggestions are not only welcome but acted upon too. To cite a few examples: When the markets took a beating in 2008-09, the franchisor was very empathetic with the difficulties of franchisees. They sat with us to deal with the situation proactively. CADD Centre also invested heavily to develop the market and develop new programmes.

CADD Centre’s Network Development Service Team, with its members posted at different locations across the country, maintains a close coordination between the Corporate Office and franchises to ensure that what is conceived and planned properly reaches all franchises. The franchisor also ensures that high quality training is delivered to the end customers by every franchise. Towards meeting this laudable objective, CADD Centre conducts regular training programmes for our staff and certification tests to our faculties to enable them to provide quality training in different software products. Besides, CADD Centre organises online doubt clearing sessions.

How satisfied are your customers - students, corporate trainees - about the course delivery, quality of teaching, etc?

Our customers are highly satisfied. Students as well as professionals and management of corporate houses have expressed their satisfaction and acknowledged the high level of quality in training and support from staff. The continuance of programs at colleges and success of student referrals are testimony to this. We have a strong word of mouth marketing through our satisfied students – a key factor in sustained growth of our business.

Do you feel like you are an entrepreneur running an independent business unit, rather than a franchisee? If yes, please explain.

I take pride in saying that the business has grown in size, gained reputation and respect among its customers. I have always had the independence and freedom to develop my business as per the requirements of the local market within the framework set out by the franchisor. I consider the vast and growing network of CADD Centre a big advantage - for instance, you can make the right decision quickly leveraging the experience of the franchisor who has the cumulative experience of running the business at multiple locations.

What do you think is unique about CADD Centre franchise? In other words, what do you like the most about CADD Centre?

The franchisee model, wherein we pay an annual franchise fees – determined largely by the size and potential of the market in which one operates, is a highly practical and fair one. The focus that CADD Centre gives to delivering what the industry wants by developing  world class course materials and employing highly qualified and experienced technical  personnel is amazing. In a franchise model that involves education and interpretation, this is a great value. Tie ups with  major software companies ensures that training on the latest versions of software is made available. With such exquisite offerings, CADD Centre leaves the delivery of the courses to the franchisees - and this translates into a very successful training model.

What do you have to say about your business performance? How has your growth been in all these years - in terms of turnover, space, team size, customer size etc?

We are extremely happy about the business. Over the years, we have grown to be amongst the top 5 franchise centres across the country in terms of revenue. We probably have one of the largest teams of CADD Instructors – over 35 engineers. From the modest beginnings of 5 – 10 student enrolments, we now have more than 100 enrolments every month at our centres at Coimbatore. Our presence is known, felt and acknowledged, this is even more precious! We grossed revenue of Rs 60 lakhs in 2004 -05 and the very next year, we crossed the Rs 1 crore mark. All along, we have been consistently growing in size and revenue

Kindly tell us about your team? How many faculties, marketing people, and other support staff do you have? What are their accomplishments?

The success of Coimbatore operations is largely attributable to the employees who form the backbone of the company. Currently, we have 35 CAD trainers, 10 marketing and 8 support staff employed in systems, finance, human resource and administration. We have a good organisational structure with business managers, team leaders, senior marketing & technical executives, many of whom have been working with us for more than 5 years and have grown with the organisation. Highly motivated, they have always shown enthusiasm in whatever they do. I am proud to state that these are the people who contribute to the growth and success of CADD Centre, Coimbatore, and exhibit a high degree of professionalism in our operations.

What are your future plans about expanding your franchise operations or staring new centres?

Coimbatore is witnessing an overall development thrust with rapid infrastructure development. Corporation limits are being expanded. Coimbatore is fast becoming an educational hub with over 40 engineering colleges, 2 universities, 4 deemed universities, 7 medical colleges, 14 management institutes, and 45 arts and science colleges. It is also the preferred health care destination offering high quality, latest medical care at affordable cost.

To keep pace with the growth of the city and meet the genuine needs of students requiring CAD training closer to their place, we would like to start satellite centres in the periphery of the city. Our specific interest will be having the peripheral centres at industrial hubs, educational institutions and newly developing areas in and around the city.

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