It was on March 23rd that restaurants came to a grinding halt. And with them stopping, we found our vans empty with no work. As the founder, I was staring at vehicle EMIs, salary payments and no cash inflow from receivables – as everyone cited “work from home”.
Top of my mind was the pressing realization that 80% of my work force are primary bread winners for their families – our drivers and delivery boys.
l had to find a way out.
The silver lining for us was that we were delivering breads and greens to Natures Basket stores and sales at all stores had started picking up as everyone was stocking up. I quickly reached out to my connects there – Yash Jaisinghani and Pravina and told them I had spare capacity. They too in turn were struggling with getting stocks to their stores as most supply chains had gotten disrupted (contract drivers rushing back to villages). Together, we ensured we started delivering all types of dairy, vegetables, mangoes to their stores and that kept us marginally afloat.
But what about my other vans? I noticed a rising demand for home deliveries and quite a few enterprising entrepreneurs tapping into it quickly. To take the opportunity, I hustled and asked for connects. Word spread around quickly. It worked beautifully ! With no traffic and contactless deliveries, our deliveries are so fast that a client commented its even cheaper than biker deliveries !
Further, with highways and borders tightening, farms who saw a huge demand for veggies started using our vans for farm to fork deliveries. Today, between all above categories we manage to get atleast 80% capacity used daily.
This is easier said than done – as a team we stood together to make this happen!
My heartfelt GRATITUDE to our drivers and delivery boys who convinced their families to let them venture out amidst the panic. Who are donning masks and risking themselves to ensure essentials get delivered to homes. Our supervisor Chaitanya who ensures that each team member is regularly inspected, sanitizers, gloves and masks are plenty in van, vans itself sanitized daily. and when vehicles break down – he uses the most innovative ways to tow vehicle and replace parts. Our manager Sanjay, who had gone to village to drop his 8 month pregnant wife and got caught in the lock down- finds a shady spot under a tree daily in his village to get network – and works from there creating schedules, tracking orders, updating clients.
Our accountant Sonali who ensures everyday multiple clients are invoiced daily and payments come in the very same day. We simply cant afford any credit period. Her work has increased from 40 invoices a month to 15 a day but she is at it everyday. Sai and Vedant who understand that everyday we need to seek new business – help us reach out to new clients everyday, take inquiries and explain our processes.
I often wonder am I plain lucky to have such a great team ? what is it that made the entire unit come together and work EVEN HARDER? I dont know the answer yet. but perhaps it is “CULTURE” – we have created a culture of Empowerment and Respect. May sound like cliche words – but its true ! That empowerment has resulted in my office team stretching at this time. The respect in language used and care (example simply ensuring every vehicle has enough snacks and beverages during this period, knowing that there is no food available outside) has come back to us manifold now. They know I roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. they know that if some item has gone missing / client speaks rudely – I TRUST my staff completely and will take up for them as we resolve issue.
Today, I am grateful that we will survive the pandemic and I realize the meaning of the word “culture” and am motivated to trust, respect and empower my team even more.