Blaupunkt launched the first car radio way back in 1932. It introduced the world’s first web-linked navigation system in 2002. The brand with the blue dot is as youthful today, as it has ever been. Blaupunkt is one of the most well-loved and well-recognised German brand names.
Here, Sukhesh Madaan, CEO, Blaupunkt Audio India, talks about the MSMEs and the situation they are in due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Excerpts from an interview:
DQ: What are the problems being faced to generate revenues if the lockdown continues?
Sukhesh Madaan: For us, the business is completely zero as of now. All our sales channels are closed. Therefore, we are not generating an iota of revenue. While we understand and are expecting the lockdown to continue for few more weeks, we are hopeful that the online business may start soon, and that will give us some respite.
DQ: What are the expectations of MSMEs from the government to help them to run their businesses?
Sukhesh Madaan: We are currently struggling at two fronts. While, our sales and revenue is zero, our expenses are not getting any lesser. We are to pay salaries to all our employees, deposit taxes, pay rents for warehouses and offices and so on. Even if banks have given mortarium options, they are still adding interests for the months we are not paying.
The Indian government has to think little innovatively here. They can avoid charging interest for these months when we are not able to pay EMIs. They offer some exemptions in GST, which will free our funds for us to use them elsewhere. We may not calculate the employees salary of these months under the income tax, so that will give them some extra cash in hand and so on.
DQ: How are you dealing with the current situation when your business is at a standstill?
Sukhesh Madaan: To be honest, it took us almost 7-10 days to come in terms with this new reality. The revenue streams are all dried up and that means, all our sales, logistics, and warehousing teams have almost nothing to do. But then, we regrouped our thoughts and decided to utilize these days to upgrade their skill sets.
Nowadays, on the one hand the team is getting trained on the various productivity tools from Microsoft, SAP and Zoho, and, on the other side, we have roped in lifestyle coaches, which are training them on stress management, personal styling, stress management, etc.
I am sure that these investments will go a long way in making them even better individuals in general.
DQ: What will be the economic impact of the extended lockdown on their businesses?
Sukhesh Madaan: We are losing a hoard of money every month. Practically, the only saving is coming may be in terms of travel and office operational expenses, while the rest are all expenses from the salaries to rents to EMIs, which are as it is.
Honestly, I am expecting a lot of businesses going downhill permanently if the situations doesn’t improve quickly. Lot of us are also carrying perishable goods and services, and we can’t control them if the things stay like for long.
DQ: What are the strategies to keep you alive in the market?
Sukhesh Madaan: There are a few things which we are doing right now. These are:
* The entire management has decided to draw zero salary for 3 months starting from March.
* Senior employees been requested to take a volunteer salary cut of 20-30% for 2-3 months.
* We are trying to negotiate with landlords to reduce the rents by certain percentages for few months to help us pass through this phase
* Lastly, I think most critically, staying positive and optimistic to ensure that we sail through this hardest of our time with bearable and affordable damages.