The Man With The Solutions
Amit Batwalkar knew that he had to do all he could to reduce the carbon emission that the delivery business generated. Having worked with Uber, Gig India and NoBroker, he knew this only too well. “On average, a single delivery man will do 100 trips in a week and one trip is approximately 6.5 km. That works out to 650 km per week per person. And a medium-sized petrol bike spews out 65 kgs of carbon dioxide per week! This is scary!!”
So, the solution obviously lay in EV bikes. But it was not as simple as it seems. “There was a lot of resistance from the riders regarding EV bikes. The reason being their earning. They wrongly believed that they earned much more riding a petrol bike for deliveries rather than an EV.”
Problem No 1:
Getting riders to switch to EV bikes was difficult. Says Amit, “a rider earns on an average Rs. 24,000 per month. And with an EV bike, he would earn say Rs. 15,000/-. Now that equation is simple. The earnings on petrol bikes are obviously more. But what he could not realize is that he spent perhaps half the amount of petrol. So, in effect, he was earning just Rs. 12,000/-.” But talking, explaining this was not working. “The riders just could not understand this simple equation that what money you earn is not your profit. It is that less the amount you spend on petrol.”
Not to be deterred by this rider roadblock, Amit figured out that the riders would understand this only when they saw one of them reap the benefits of an EV bike. So, the problem of reducing carbon emissions now depended on getting riders who would be willing to ride an EV bike. When very obviously the riders he knew were not willing to do so.
But for every problem there has to have a solution, right? His experience with other delivery companies came in handy. “I knew that there is a small number of men who ride bicycles to do deliveries. And I know they earn much less simply because they can’t do so many kilometres.” Amit also knew where to find them.
“I approached these men who did deliveries on bicycles. I knew the fatigue they felt at the end of the day after cycling 40-45 km. I knew how little they earned despite the hard physical work. So, I approached them and offered them my EV bikes. They readily agreed. One because they would not have to sweat it out and more importantly their earnings jumped to new highs.”
What Amit did was put one or two EV bike riders along with the petrol run bikes. “When the riders exchanged notes with each other it drove home the benefit in a far more effective way than my telling them. They understood that even if a rider was getting paid Rs. 500 per day he was saving about Rs. 450-475 out of that, because the cost of a charge was just Rs. 24. The point went home straight.”
Problem No 2:
The bikes themselves. “Some time ago the EV technology was not mature enough. They could not cross 25 km/hour which made them rather slow. That was not useful at all. But now after the government’s push to the EV industry, we have new companies that manufacture EV bikes that can go up to even 55 km/hour”
Which was a good thing. But the issue was whether to buy the bikes that cost Rs. 90,000 onwards or rent them. If my rider was to rent a bike it can cost him about Rs. 5000 per month. Now that would put him in a fix. Because he would have to spend Rs. 5000 per month and yet not own the bike at the end of a year or two.”
So, Amit decided to hire the bikes himself. “When you ask a company to hire 20-30 bikes you can negotiate the rentals.” Which is what he did. “I got as much as a 30 – 40 % discount because of the numbers.” Battu Services now rents 40 EV bikes and serves Zepto primarily.
Amit has developed a three-tier model that has made Battu Services profitable from Day 1. “The rider takes the EV from us. He has to use his electricity to charge the battery. We use IOT to track the number of kilometres he has done and when he reaches the store etc. All this is integrated with the field staff”
Zepto has about 400 bikes and 40% of its fleet is served by Battu Services. All this is very fine but managing a delivery business has a huge elephant in the room that everyone tries their level best to address – attrition
Problem No 3:
Says Amit, “It is quite well known and accepted that at any given time the attrition rate for delivery men is 40% per week. Every week you will have 40% of your men who will leave you.” So, what’s the solution? Amit came up with a solution that helped him tackle not just attrition but also add to the team in case people left.
“I decided to offer our guys a referral bonus. If they referred a rider to us then they would get Rs. 500 as a bonus. That way my current riders are happy they are getting a bonus and I can keep adding to my team to cushion anyone leaving.” With this Battu has seen attrition of just 7% since it started in Feb this year!
Plans are afoot to move to Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai using the same model. Like we said before, every problem has a solution and with his problem-solving skills, Amit has managed to keep his business on top of it!