NEW DELHI: Homegrown automaker Tata Motors is close to shelving its project ‘Drona’, started a few years back to bridge the gap in its sales and service operations with global arch-rivals in the market, according to two-person close to the development, who confirmed the decision to ETAuto.
In April 2014, the automaker roped in a training organization and to give hands-on exposure to handling Tata’s products and services to dealership employees. The trainers in the project were called “Drona” who imparted new qualitative aspects to the workforce.
According to sources, in a team of 128 Dronas’ (associates) in one of its agencies in its commercial vehicle business unit, the company has terminated services of 110 of these. However, the same person also revealed that around 33 Dronas in the passenger vehicle business have also been asked to reveal details on the performance and are facing possible exits. However, ETAuto couldn’t verify these numbers independently till the time of filing the story.
With Project Drona, Tata Motors wanted to ensure that even as the company expands its dealer’s reach, as it was keen to provide the best customer experience to increase its sagging sales~
It is to be noted that these Dronas were hired as part of third party agencies such as Centum Learning, Novo Consulting, Wagons Learning, and SLS (Strategic Learning Solutions) as the company has outsourced the quality training for the workforce.
Employees from these agencies have independently confirmed to ETAuto that many of the associates or Dronas who were working in with commercial vehicle business units have been asked to leave and have been given pink slips.
One of the employees even said that there is no proper process followed in the separation process.
“It is an internal matter between a vendor of Tata Motors that provides business services, via a fully outsourced model, and its employees. Hence, it will not be appropriate for Tata Motors Limited to comment on what is essentially a third-party matter,” the company spokesperson told ETAuto in an email response.
Industry veterans are of the view that during these pressing times companies are trying to reduce overhead costs and when largely the (automotive) dealerships are going through a massive transformation from offline to online in the digital space.
A large part of the sales process will happen digitally most of the OEM’s are expecting in the times of coronavirus when potential customers are avoiding physical transactions to buy new vehicles.
Project Drona was part of the larger game plan of Tata Motors wanted to defend its commercial vehicle market share and maintain leadership in the segment~
Agencies have asked Dronas to initiate the separation process and given a notice period of one month till 30th June that is being expected to be the last working day for the trainers, according to an email communication accessed by ETAuto.
With Project Drona, Tata Motors wanted to ensure that even as the company expands its dealer’s reach, as it was keen to provide the best customer experience to increase its sagging sales.
Also, it was part of the larger game plan of Tata Motors wanted to defend its commercial vehicle market share and maintain leadership in the segment. Commercial Vehicles are already under pressure on a weak and sluggish domestic economy.
However, in the current scenario where companies are offsetting overhead costs and trimming down expenses, it is inevitable that the company will most likely shelve this project.
Also, one of the counter-argument a senior analyst gave is that last year automakers were preparing for mega transform shift from BS-IV emission to BS-VI emissions norms so a lot of training happened in sales and service which might not be required now.
As most of the sales process will happen digitally and customers could reach dealerships largely for the physical delivery of the vehicles much of the staff would be redundant and their retrenchment would help to curtail and save costs in these uncertain times.
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