Monday, December 30, 2013

Building Relations Not Just Walls!







Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning…Bill Gates.

Well no need to introduce who the author of this quote is as he is the person who took customer service in his industry at a new level; “User Friendly” is the word he introduced in complex product like software & right from five year kid to eighty years old grandma are now User Friendly with computer, thanks to Microsoft! Unfortunately the real estate in our country seems to be taken only first part of his quote, when it comes to customer service! While entering in a new year where everybody is quite wary about entire economy & what lies ahead, real estate is also no exception. Agreed because of the nature of the product where most of the time demand exceeds supply, over the years the real industry has enjoyed monopoly when it comes to sale! So on this front let’s focus ourselves on Pune real estate which is a Metro in making. Recently in the year end a survey has been conducted & the outcome has been published in all the news papers. It’s about complaints registered at District Consumer Forum in year 2013 & needless to say the real estate has topped here. Out of nearly 560 total complaints 217 i.e. 40% were against builders in & around Pune!

Well many will say what’s big deal?  Don’t we know the way builders treat rather cheat their customers, & rather we would have been surprised if any other profession would have been at top in this survey! Well can’t really blame them as each day real estate does make headlines but mostly for wrong doing is a fact. Reasons may be many but that’s what the image of builders is in common man’s eyes but what is reality? To me agreed this industry in past hasn’t been much customer friendly but look at the sheer size of turnover in compare to numbers of units as well the money involved in yearly transaction & the large segment which it covers! All though no agency has exact record of how many numbers of flats has been sold & what’s amount of these flats per year yet it must be way beyond any consumer good even automobiles is what my experience says. And the industry is not professional as anybody with land & some money under his belt can become a builder, & this anybody don’t have any background nor training to deal with the customer of his profession. Most of the complaints if you analyze are about the builders who don’t have any pedigree or one timer’s i.e. single project type. And the nature of complaints is again same i.e. not fulfilling possession commitments or not providing committed amenities & then about poor quality construction. Here in this industry frankly there are no set norms for the quality as yet most of the works are carried by manual labor especially finishing work like tiling, woodwork & painting. Not many customers are keen to check quality on durability & strength basis; they just go by the finish look of the project.

The major reason of all the post deal complaints or drift between the developer & the client is no dialogue, neither during the booking process & nor during the construction! If you see the points of conflicts most could have been avoided if proper communication has been kept between the client & the developer & for that it’s very important from developers side to be in touch with the customers on regular basis. Now a days there are web sites, email, whatsap, image sharing web site & many such tools through which you can keep updating all the information regarding the site & its work to the clients who have booked their home in that project. Most people have net access on their cell phone so information sharing is very easy. What is my experience with real estate is, still it’s very primitive when it comes to operating the business. Most of the clients still like to be in touch with the main person behind the company i.e. chief promoter or the builder we may call him. If the builder can keep himself available to the clients by using any of above medium or build a strong second rank in the organization which can be available for any of the smallest quarry by the customer then such group rarely faces any problem from the customers. After all what a common customer wants is someone who can listen him & act upon whatever his requirement is & that action may not be always as per what he wants, we can be politely say no but the no should come with logic! And nothing wrong is such expectation of the customer after all this is age of customers & real estate is no exception to the rule!

Here is where importance of the dialogue between the customer & the builder is vital as if we can explain the reason of the complaint to the customer & then act within committed time, there won’t be any clashes. But what is observed is either the builder neglects customers complaint because he really doesn’t care about the same or many a times the complaint isn’t right in itself or out of capacity of the developer to repair or attain. For e.g. if some flat holder got interior changes in his toilet after possession & then the toilet starts leakage in the flat below, obviously the flat holder will come to builder. And agreed the builder is at no fault yet he should not avoid or shrug of the flat holder who is suffering but try to resolve the issue by taking joint meeting of the both flat holders involved. This will make at least the builders image better in the eyes of the suffering flat holder. Let’s remember no problem can be solved by avoiding it & best way is through the problem & not around the problem!

Also, right from the construction stage arrange small get together at site with the customers who have booked flats in that project. This will create a bond between the clients’ right from beginning & it will help them to have a better communication amongst themselves when they will get possession & actually start living over there. And through such interactions we could educate the clients about the construction techniques we use at site as well make them aware about the maintenance issues which may come up in future such as hair cracks in plaster or seepage in rains!

The role of the client also is equally important as no dialogue can go just one way, we should demand from the developer as much information we can about our own project as well his completed projects, as it will save us from lots of bitter experiences ahead. As number of complaints has been about not fulfilling the commitments made about amenities or possession date. Try to dig about the past of the developer before entering in any deal as past is like a mirror for any business house, so it’s better to inquire before it’s too late! Again many a people goes with what’s been projected in advertise or brochures only, which is a wrong practice. Speak with existing customers of the developer as well with the principal person, try to know about his values & approach to the business. Such thing does help in ensuring that you are dealing with proper person & putting your money in safe hands. If we really want to make the real estate industry to look after by a common man with respect then the terms like transparency & trust should come in our action & not remain just bookish things. 

The times are changing fast & technology is making people aware about good practices being followed all over the globe. Agreed land remains most scarce thing & it does give builders an upper hand in compare to any other business but then it’s a responsibility also!
Here Govt also should form a special tribunal for all sorts of real estate issues, especially disputes amongst builder & clients or land title claims. As at present civil courts as well revenue department takes too much time due to their other work load. This will make people respect the law as a justice delay is justice denied!  

Organizations of the developers like Credai have their Grievance Cell which looks after the consumer’s complaints on association forum & this information should be made to reach more & more home buyers as well existing customers. Also the associations should work on educating the fellow developers about good ethics of the business as well becoming customer friendly. As it’s surely not a good image to top in the list of Consumer Complaints List! And it’s up to us only to straighten up this record by our own conduct , then only we can be eligible to call us Developer, as being the developer doesn’t mean just building walls, selling them & make money but it’s to develop a society of humans where the culture of good things will grow & flourish!



Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani ! (Click the links below)

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/


http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Building Walls Without Emotions!








There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home…Kenny Guinn
Kenneth Carroll "Kenny" Guinn was an American businessman, educator and politician. The above quote about owning a home shows his class apart as educator & not just a businessman or politician! Truly it’s a pride for a person to own a home of his & the joy is worth experiencing, when you hand over the home to its pride owner! As an engineer I have build many homes & handed to the owners but each time its new home a new story behind it & new faces! But one thing is same every time & it’s the emotions, they are same. Actually later on seeing the way people come for taking the possession of their home, I fell we are not handing over four wall named home but it’s the emotions we are handing over to the flat holders. People come for handing over ceremony like they have come to attend some marriage or a family function; with new clothes, jewelry & friends along to click the snap when they are getting the keys on stage! That time you realize that you are handing over emotions & not just home! As most of the people in this country home buying is one time thing in their life span, so obviously it has got immense sentimental value. And as a developer/builder it’s very important to understand these sentiments of the customer about the home they are buying.
Unfortunately emotions is the thing real estate is losing & that’s main cause of the industry is getting looked with suspicious eyes in terms of the words like integrity, reliability, trust, morals, relations & so many similar meaning terms. After all where there is emotion all the terminology related to above words exists as what is a human being without emotions? But today real estate rides on terms like luxury, amenities, no neighbor home, privacy, tailor made home; all without emotions. Even the homes are being termed as “maal” i.e. stock by many developers & brokers. Someone will say nothing wrong as it’s also a commodity after all, why give it special status! Here I remember a dialogue from movie Munnabhai MBBS, in that the medical college professor tells to his student “the last thing they should do with their patient is to love them”! The logic was getting you getting attached emotionally with the patient may effect on the treatment you will be giving to him. I am not sure about medical profession but certainly it’s being adopted in real estate & we see lesser & lesser people in the profession do not love their product as well the customers & result is strained relations within the various segments of the real estate industry! All the people involved in process of home making just want to see is output & that too in terms of money.

Relation between the builder & the home buyer is lost or don’t exist at all. Many builders have never met the actual user & now there is no company sale staff also but the entire project is outsourced & the customer doesn’t have any interaction between the actual builder & the team associated with project. There are site visits by appointment & special escorting team is there just to show the site & give information. Right from advertising of the project to agreement entire customer relation is handled by a third party & many builders are happy with this arrangement as they feel getting rid of meeting the home buyer & face his silly questions about the home. I know many builders who take pride in saying that they have never talked with a single customer & yet they have completed & sold such & such numbers of projects! I have never understood whether to consider this as a business success or a failure at emotional front? Here I want to ask, does success for a builder means only how many square feet’s he has completed & how much turnover he has generated out of those square feet’s of area? Have we lost to feel the joy for the number of families we have helped to get their dream home & so many new relations we have created in the process of handing over these homes to them? In process of making the customer special or give him luxurious treatment or just to get rid of those responsibilities we are losing the human touch involved in entire home making & buying.

Earlier when there was a bungalow era many people’s builder used to be jack of all i.e. architect, contractor & engineer also. And a home was being built with joint efforts & with constant interaction, at the end there used to be a get together of all involved & workers were felicitated as per the capacity of the bungalow owner & years after that these relations were maintained & cherished. I know stories of many builders whose next genre also has benefited from good work of their ancestors; so where all these good traditions got lost from real estate?

On the other said even the customers are also at equal blame as whatever good a builder does they only see materialistic side of him & many a thinks what’s big deal, are they not paying as per market rate for their home, so isn’t it the builders duty to give them what they have paid for? They are not interested in knowing the hard work behind the planning & execution of their own home. Many of them who just go by superficial amenities are happy to boast about the luxuries amenities their home is having but never bother to think beyond that, not to appreciate the good work their developer is doing in society & things like that. One thing I have observed now a day’s customers are quick enough to respond about any in convenience they cause from the home or the process, may it be some maintenance or any legal issue but rarely they appreciate or speak good things about the developer or his team. Though this is now habit of our entire society on all fronts that speaking good about someone is a taboo thing! On other hand to criticize someone is our most favorite job.  We don’t inquire about who our neighbor is & don’t want to get introduced with him before we come to reside, leave apart about interest in knowing the contractors or suppliers of the project where we will be spending our life! In my entire carrier I have met hardly two or three customers who have shown interest in having a look at the site labor’s accommodation arrangement at ongoing project where they have booked their home! Trying to forward some help by any means as simple like giving site workers sweets during Diwali is out of imagination, after all its their hands & sweat what makes four walls of your home, can’t we make their some moments  better? We don’t even have a simple courtesy to write few good words to the architect or contractor of the project that yes we are happy & have liked our home & are thankful to them for making our dream home! 

And the same attitude continues even after possession & outcome is strained relations between the residents of today’s buildings. There are heated arguments amongst members & smallest matters like parking takes violent or legal route, which or else can be solved very much amicably! But for that again the human attitude & terms like relations are required. And all these have to be incorporated right from the beginning; if builder isn’t keen or aware then the customer should demand as after all this is era of purchaser. It means if there are wrong practices then some where the client himself is responsible for that!

Sadly in all these process a very important thing is being vanished from the real estate industry & it’s the dialogue between the two ends i.e. between the builder & the customer! When I say builder it’s the entire team which in some way working for home making; may it be site people, marketing back office staff & outer agencies. A lot can be done here in very simple ways, for e.g. arranging occasional get together at site or at office & making the two ends meet. Regular updating of our activities to the customer via web site of mails, not necessarily it should be something extra ordinary thing. You can share news about real estate to them as what’s happening in the industry. News like sand excavation is banned for while, & how it’s going to impact on the industry & how your team is facing the problem, can be shared by a small letter from the desk of the developer. All these things eventually are a dialogue & it’s this dialogue which develops emotions between client & the builder. Agreed at the end it’s a business for both ends but then let’s not forget that the cause of the business is not just any product but a home & what is a home without sentiments & emotions!

It’s up to all of us to retain the emotional culture of real estate, as any good culture is like a tree; it has to be planted & needs to be cultivated in the society by our own acts only!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
(Click the links below)

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com

Sunday, December 8, 2013

And I Missed the Tiger Happily!








I'm always astonished by a forest. It makes me realize that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn….Gunter Grass

G√ľnter Wilhelm Grass is a German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is widely regarded as Germany's most famous living writer. And no doubt in that as look at the way he has described forests & I fully agree with Gunter as my some of the best times have been with forests! And so was my recent week long trip at my most favorite places i.e. Kanha, Pench & Tadoba! What one could have asked as a holiday! Though it was start of December yet thanks the weather change due to Helena, the latest typhoon which had hit Andhra coast, it was pleasantly cold & not usual bone chilling cold at Kanha. But the increased costs of safari i.e. entry fees in forests & gypsy charges have surely hit Kanha tourists. Also the online booking process & stringent entry norms such as identification of every tourist & not allowing any change in the group bookings, all has been taking toll on numbers of visitors & though not openly but the whispers are amongst guides, dhabelwals, gypsy owners & resort people about the worry for the reduced numbers of tourists. Forests needs to be made dearer to common man & costing of forest trips is definitely matter of concern & with current rates it’s been restricted to upper class of the society. If we want the forests to survive then it has to be made affordable to masses then only the awareness will be there. Especially school & college kids, target them & come up with special packages for them is what I will urge to the forest people & policy makers.
Here as usual however one may deny yet while moving through the forests everybody’s eyes are searching the Tiger & though forest offers so many other spectacular scenes yet the importance of Tiger remains. During my trip though I saw number of times the king of jungle yet I missed him also on many occasions & yet I was happy in missing the Tiger! Many will say it’s a lie but what I gained instead was equally or even more exiting, so sharing these moments in form of takes, like they do in Hindi film shooting!
Take One
As usual tracing an alarm call from Chital for the tiger on a tall sall tree my guide pointed towards a nest & mentioned it of vulture. Already sighting of a vulture is getting rare than that of tiger & a vulture sitting at nest was some excitement , so I asked driver to stop & tried to click the bird, with many attempts & positioning the gypsy at right place, yet I failed to get a proper snap & we moved off leaving the nest & the vulture. Just some 100 meters ahead there was a naalh & as we approached the nallh a tigress get up from there & within a flash crossed the road &vanished in the bushes! All I could do is admire her walking across! The guide said “sabb khali time waste kiya vulturepe”, though I was happy that for a while I had forgotten the tiger & missed him happily!
Take Two:
The story in Pench wasn’t different, now its turn of Oriental Dove, a small but very attractive bird & I wasn’t having any clear snap of it till now. So when came across one pair of the bird that too at very close range, I couldn’t wait to click it till I get a good shot. Was admiring the beauty through the lens of even a small tattoo like gray patch on its neck, I didn’t realize the time which passed & suddenly a gipsy came from opposite side telling there was a tiger right near the road & how they got great snap of the animal & when they came to know what I was clicking, the expressions on their face were worth clicking itself! Again my guide then murmured something like “kya saab miss kar gaye tigerko kabutarke liye!” But the fellow didn’t know that again I have missed the Tiger happily! As the beauty of Oriental Dove has made me forgot everything around for a while!
Take Three:

The tiger missing trail continued in Tadoba also. Traveling on a gypsy & in dust storm generated by tires of other gypsy's suddenly my eye caught a leaf in a giant spiders web & then I realized it’s not a leaf but a grasshopper may be double that of size than the spider & I stopped to watch the action. In minutes the last struggle of the poor fellow stopped & the spider was at work. When I saw through 500 lens, was surprised to see a small orange color spider mounting on the bigger spider; my friend atul dhmankar who is authority on forest by himself updated me that the bigger one is female & its male spider which is much smaller in size than female & interesting is he can met the female only when she is busy in eating her prey otherwise she will end up eating the male when free! Also I always used to wonder when spiders don’t have teeth how it eats it prey? Atul cleared that doubt also as female spider injects venom in the preys body through her fangs & the venom is so strong that it liquidates all the tissues as well bones of the body of the prey & then she suck out all that liquid & leave the dried leftover to be flown away! Cruel it sounds but that one of many facts of “Killing for Living”, logic of the jungle! Forest is full of such surprises & again we missed a tiger sighting in clicking this whole action which other gypsies got but I was happier than to have witnessed something equally exiting as it’s the smaller species which actually keeps the forest alive & many of us overlook such scenes in search of bigger animals!

Take four:

In forest there comes a day when all day you move around & neither you sight a tiger nor you saw anything unusual or exiting & with dull mood you come back to your room. There was one such day at Kanha & at night I was just standing in verandah of my cottage, it was real chill wind outside in Kanha & saw two service boys of resort standing in front of my adjoining cottage. They were waiting to serve some guests who were partying & may be celebrating their tiger sighting! The boys weren’t having any warm clothes & were shivering due to cold outside. I called up the manager & asked how many such boys are there in resort? He said some odd 8-10 numbers it must be. I asked him to go to nearby village shop, get 10 sweaters & called all service boys of the resort & handed them over the sweaters! The lightened up faces of the boys made me forget the dullness of the non sighting day & yes I again have missed the Tiger happily that night!

Not that I didn’t saw any tiger, I did but what was more fun is there were such times when most of the tourists would have preferred not to waste time on other animals & head for the tiger, but I was happy with other excitements in & around forests.

Take five:
Scarface, name given to the biggest male tiger in Tadoba forest because of the scars he carries from his territorial fights with other male tigers; & may be even at par with any big male tiger in entire Indian forests & he is huge ! Real thaliva, the boss of the Tadoba forest!
We saw his big pug mark in dust on a early morning ride & chased him to click after three hours of search & wait; agreed the forest offers so many excitements yet nothing beats experience of tracking a tiger in forest as that excitement is beyond words & finally when you see the animal, speechless I became is all I can share!

Now after the takes let’s have a look at something which a wild life traveler should not forget to see & that is looking around the place you are staying! I have a habit of walking around after the morning ride & evening ride & it’s does makes me compare the life styles of the people living around the forest especially the villagers. On contrast of villages like Khatiya at Kanha & Turiya at Pench, Moharli at Tadoba was a shock to me. Usually the fresh air & fragrance of the vegetation is what greets you at such walks but at Moharly it was stench of human excreta as the road to forest was the place for the morning rituals of all Moaharli villagers & that’s the cause of smell. Surprisingly there was a banner of some local leader being congratulated for allocating funds for a community center for the village but no thing such as public toilets are there at Moharli; making villagers to use road as a common toilet. Tadoba is a national level tourist attraction because of tiger sighting & such scene isn’t a matter of pride for the place especially while enetering in the forest itself! The forest department with their funds or with the help of NGO’s can surely build some good toilets for the village. Even that’s duty of tourists also to offer some help on this front. Same is the story with forest department toilet conditions which are at the gate. At Kanha & Pench you get toilets well equipped & clean like a good resort but Tadoba lacks very much on this front & a lot is needed to do on cleanliness & hygiene. The guides at Tadoba were just one step above mute & deaf is all I can comment! As a guide is the main link between forests & tourists but unfortunately instead explaining tourists about the details of the forest, most guides were busy in chewing tobacco & chatting with the driver all the time during ride & spitting that tobacco in park only. Such attitude  makes the  tourists  feel detached from the forest &  naturally  if they don’t saw  the Tiger  the trip  turns in to unhappy event. And all blame is put on the forest which has no fault in it. Another surprising thing was camera fee being charged at Tadoba for higher range lens i.e. above 250mm! Rs 500 is being charged for such camera, means if there are 4 such cameras in the gipsy then you end up paying Rs 2000 per trip, an amount more than rent of gipsy ride! While no other park in country charges for camera, this is sheer looting & wrong encashment of popularity the park enjoys for the Tiger. And foolish part is when you are denying higher range lens then the tourist will try to go more near to the animal to click him with lower range lens! The shocker came when in mid forest our gypsy was stopped by a so called forest patrol unit on two wheeler & we have been asked to produce our id proofs along with each of us was made to say our name! I felt like we are not wild life loving tourists but some drug traffickers stopped by cops & the guy doing so
Mr. Nibuddhe(this is his name) seemed to be enjoying his job & next three days I was seeing him doing this with sadistic pride. I have seen many forests but never had come across such pathetic way & that too when all identification has been duly checked at gate while entering in park! What park management of Tadoba is thinking of tourists by adopting such measures only god knows it! They should make new routes to make tourists more exposed to forest & start something like Center with facility like toilets & snacks at the abandoned office places in central part of the forest. Our forest department needs to make a detail analysis of such policies & compare our parks with other States & adopt good policies which will make tourist satisfied with their experience. And most important make them consistent as we same throughout the State to avoid confusion amongst tourists, especially the park timings & booking charges types.

Friends our responsibility towards the happy moments at forest doesn’t ends at the gate of the forest while coming out of the forest, rather it starts from there. What we should carry back home is not just the snaps & Tiger magic but this responsibility feeling which we have towards forest.

Lastly a take describing what can be done from your side when you are not in forest & trust me its equal rather more joy giving than tiger sighting!
Take Six:

Back home in Pune, few tribal (local residents) people & forest staff from Pench forest, Madhya-Pradesh has been invited to Pune by anuj khare's nature walk, Sanjeevani Dev & Pune forest dept, to have a look at how tourism & locals can work together in hand. Pench Director Mr.Alok kumar & Park Game ranger Mr.Tiwari from mp forest & Sunil Limaye CCF, from Pune forest were the main who took initiative in this event, as they were visiting Dandeli forest for the same purpose & on way back we invited the team at pune.We gave them treat at Vaishali hotel, famous Pune eating joint & handed them some goodies & they were so happy, as none of them ever seen any big city nor sat in even railway & not knew what is "masala dosa"! Happy that we can give them some fun & joy as these are the persons who protect forests for us!
Forests offers best moments of fantasies coming true to human & it’s up to us only to conserve these sights as or else they will really remain a fantasy only & we will do is repent for our negligence to ruin our own happy moments!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.


Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
(Click the links below)

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com