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August - September 2004

Business Forum

Interview with Shashi Gossain: Indian Woman Entrepreneur in the Fast Lane of Motor Business

This charming buxom lady is always full of surprises! I came across Shashi Gossain, a pharmacist by profession, married to a very handsome Indian doctor, Jagdeep, at a 'Young Hindu Association' function where she had organised a fashion show of, wait for it, the 'Grandmother Beauty Contest'. It was fun!

Shashi Gossain, always smiling, is involved with various cultural organisations in London and her home ground in Hounslow. What I least expected was a phone call from her in suppressed whispering tone inviting me to see her New Business which she has ventured into only recently. And it was male-dominated Motor Garage Services business. To top it all, it was Merc Only service garage.

The dream car of all Asians, Mercedes Benz, will now be serviced, exclusively, by the gaarges owned by Shashi Gossain, an avid Merc driver herself. Being an Indian woman, she knows the value of money. The car is a value for money. But, the garages where she used to go for services, always gave her nightmares. The enormous cost of servicing her beloved Mercedes made her entrepreneurial mind to think hard. The result was MercOnly , launched as an independent garage, based in Hanwell, almost the centre of West London. Sitting cosily in her well-decorated Reception Room, my first question to Shashi was:

How did this business idea come to you?
Well, I knew it was the best car in the market. I have always driven Mercedes. But I always came distraught whenever I paid my service bills. The car has value for money. But service charges are horrendous. I thought, why not to open a merc only service garage at economical price. Mercedes owners-especially women- would be delighted to have their Mercedes serviced at almost half the price usually charged by Mercedes dealers in London.

There are various type of Mercedes. From S class to A. How would your garage be able to cope with all these varieties?
Mercedes may be small, medium or large, the technical specification in each is superb. Moreover, Mercedes dealers are always required to employ technicians who are regularly trained by Mercedes. It cannot be serviced by so-called 'cowboy mechanics'.

Have you got well-trained technicians to cope with all varieties of Mercedes cars?
O'h yes. We have a small friendly team of technicians headed by a highly experienced top engineer who has been with Mercedes for over 40 years. Here he is, Mr. Marwan Abouwaked

(I shake hand with Marwan, the tall, stout gentleman of Middle East features. Marwan is a Lebanese Christian who has been driving and servicing Mercedes cars for decades.
Shashi jokingly points out that Marwan was born in a Mercedes Car. Marwan nods in assent).

Mercedes is an expensive car to buy and run. How can you have enough clients to keep your technicians busy and make the business profitable?
Mercedes is not expensive if you take into account all the specifications which come with it Technically it is superb. Sheer experience of driving a Merc is a joy in itself. The prestige it gives the driver is a bonus. From safety point of view, it is one of the top cars. You will rarely find a Merc owner driving even an old model, stranded on the road. This reliability of the car, gives the women driver a great comfort and sense of security.

And now! To get it serviced from a garage owned by a woman?
Well! That is a double security. Every woman, by instinct, is value-conscious. At our garage, she knows, she will not be ripped off. Moreover, there will be no compromise with efficiency and reliability. What we provide is a guaranteed peace of mind to all our customers.

Well! Shashi did convince me about owning a Merc and getting it serviced regularly without breaking into a bank. The Service garage at Boston Business Centre in Hanwell is spread in three units, accommodating all the diagnostic technical equipment. Marwan, the head technician and other technicians attend special courses organised by the Mercedes Benz from time to time.

Shashi is very enthusiastic about her new business venture. Her husband, Jagdeep is highly supportive, albeit a bit apprehensive about the size of business, which is undoubtedly huge. I wonder, if Shashi will be able to keep her interest in various cultural and religiou societies. That indeed will be a loss to the community. But who knows, Dr Jagdeep Gossain may now take over and organise 'Grandads' Music Concert'.

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