Home Local Why Sixth is venturing into haulage business –Chigbundu, Coscharis Mobility MD
Why Sixth is venturing into haulage business –Chigbundu, Coscharis Mobility MD

Why Sixth is venturing into haulage business –Chigbundu, Coscharis Mobility MD

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In 2013, one of Nigeria’s largest and fastest-growing business organisations – the Coscharis Group – floated Coscharis Mobility Limited with the Sixt franchise on board and a dyed-in-the-wool logistics and leasing practitioner, Christian Chigbundu, in the driver’s seat. A holder of a Masters Degree in Marketing, Chigbundu is a Fellow of the Institute of  Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), a two-time board member of the Equipment Leasing Association of Nigeria [ELAN], and a board member of Afro Lease. He is a fleet management consultant with over 17 years of fleet management and leasing experience. Prior to the establishment of Coscharis Mobility Limited-Sixt Nigeria,  he had worked in several auditing firms, including Grand Thornton  International, before joining C & l Leasing Plc ,where he managed Hertz Rentals as a Country Manager. 

In this interview, Six years after the birth of Coscharis Mobility Limited-Sixt Nigeria, the Managing Director looks back at the road traveled so far, declaring that the journey has been marked with many milestones. Owners of the multinational Sixt brand, he stated,  are so pleased with its performance in Nigeria that they are considering handing Coscharis Mobility concurent franchises for Ghana and other African countries.

Six years of Coscharis Mobility and Sixt 

I started this company in 2013, but we commenced operations in 2015 without a fleet, and even without any staff. I had only the letter of incorporation which was handed over to me to commence this business. Today, I am happy to say that, six years after, we have a fleet of more than 500 vehicles that operate in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Enugu, Kano and Uyo. Today, we have the most hotel sites in Nigeria, operating from Oriental, Le Méridien, Four Point, Legend Hotels and others. We also operate in Lagos and Port Harcourt airports. I am also happy to say that we have developed so many services from short-term rentals to long-term rentals, fleet management, leasing, airport transfer, staff/school bus scheme, haulage, logistics, vehicle disposal service and outsourcing, where we outsource staff to other companies.

I am also happy to say that we have commenced our haulage business and our driving academy has also kicked off. Our staff strength today is more than 200, operating from everywhere. I am also happy to say that our business is growing. That the level of profits that we have made is also good, being a new company struggling in this industry. So, I am happy. The challenges are there, but I love challenges. I am very glad to have been able to contribute to the economy of Nigeria in this fleet management and logistics industry.

Performance level of Sixt 

Sixt is known for international standards operating in more than 150 countries. They are going to 160 now and they do not joke with their standards. The books you see there {pointing} are all operational standards. We are being regulated and monitored on daily basis. They call, visit our clients and do mystery shopping, to see if what we are doing is correct. In the midst of the challenges we find ourselves, we have been able to maintain that international standard. And that was why the franchise was renewed. It is every five years. After the first year, they will renew it for another five years that will end in 2023. We also won an award in 2016 as the fastest growing franchise country. To us, they are happy and they are also making plans to give us other African countries, like Ghana because they are happy with what we have done in Nigeria. They are happy with us and that is why we are still in business till today.

Managing car/truck haulage

There are certain things you need to prepare before going into haulage. Number one is finance. We belong to a very strong group, which is the Coscharis Group, that is willing to support us any time, any day. In our operations, we have had a sound financial standing where there are banks that are willing to support us any day. So, in terms of financing, Coscharis Group is there. Our bank partners are willing to support us. The second thing is drivers. Today, we have a Driving Academy, both for small vehicles and vehicles for haulage. With this, we ensure that any driver that we employ passes through the drivers’ academy where we train them. Another is after-sales. Coscharis Group is bringing the Ford trucks that we are going to use. Before now, Coscharis Group had and still has franchise for small cars. Noow, they are giving us the franchise for Ford trucks in Nigeria. They have made available good after-sales service. The machines and technicians are there to make sure these trucks run 24/7. Another thing is safety, and we do not joke with safety. Safety goes in line with the training of drivers. We have a training programme by which we train our drivers on quarterly bases whether haulage or the small vehicle drivers.

All our trucks will be tracked. We can demobilise them and drivers cannot go outside the route. In terms of safety too, we will make sure the drivers pass through the minimum safety education like first aid and others. In terms of safety, we are also prepared. In terms of staff, we have a number of staff waiting for us to start. Let me also say this: Our haulage is different. We are going to lease the vehicle to the clients, and the client will pay on monthly bases. So if I buy a truck for N45 million, you can pay us down over 5, 6 years. We buy the truck, we maintain and give you a driver. We can even fuel the truck. The truck works for you. Some will be dedicated. Some will be per trip, but you need to give us minimum number of trips you will do in a particular month. We are very, very ready to start and many clients are talking to us.

In doing all these, what are the major challenges you face in the business?

Nigerian roads are very bad and it affects the transport and logistics industry. Cars break down from time to time and there is increase in maintenance cost. There is high risk in moving the vehicles and the trucks. Number two is the challenge of manpower. It is difficult to see those that have experience in logistics. I have been in this business for 17 years and I trained in this business. I am also a trainer in fleet management and haulage. It is difficult to see those who have the required knowledge. It is also a big challenge. Another one is double taxation. You see Local Government officials on the road disturbing your vehicles. No matter the number of documents you have, they will still challenge you. These are the few challenges we are faced with as we run the business.

Overview of 2017 projections

We projected to move our fleet from 200 to 500 vehicles. Today, we have a fleet of more than 500. We projected to move our clientele list from 1000 to 3,000. Today, we have more than 3,000 clients both corporate and individuals. We projected to open new branches. Today, we are in Uyo, Kano, and Enugu. We projected to extend our hotel locations. Then we were in only one hotel: Four Points. Today, we are in Oriental, Radisson Blu, Legend, and LeMéridien. We also projected to bring up an app. The app is already in Google Play store. As I said, we don’t want to bring out an app without available cars to meet up. By the time, we increase our fleet, the app will start rolling. These are certain things we projected and we have been able to achieve them. We have many other services like outsourcing. We projected to open up a Driving Academy, which we have also started today. In terms of profitability and turnover, we have tried as much as possible to meet up with our projections to make our directors happy. We also projected to make our staff happy. Most people we have been dealing with within these six years have not left. They are happy with our staff motivation philosophy. I can say we have achieved above 90 per cent of all the things we projected to do.

Potential in tourism industry?

We have handled many events that involved many people coming into Nigeria. We have handled Nigeria Economic Summit twice. We have handled Bankers Forum, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) conference and many other conferences. We have partnered with many NGOs {non-governmental organizations]. These are foreigners coming into Nigeria and we have made their services seamless. In addition to that, we also partner with hotels and airlines. We have also developed a product at the hotels, whereby if one wants to make a tour of Lagos, we can take you to Badagry or Fela’s Shrine or other places of interest. We have that kind of package. We have the highest travel agency partnerships in Nigeria. When they book a flight for you in Nigeria, they book cab service for you for site seeing. These are areas we have been able to announce our presence in the Nigeria’s domestic tourism.

Relationship with FRSC iMost of our trainings are handled by the FRSC {Federal Road Safety Corps}. Today, you have seen the Lagos State Sector Commander, Hyginus Omeje, attending our event. I can say we have a very good relationship. They train our drivers as we partner together. They have also helped us so much in making sure that we establish our driving academy. We are working together.

Tackling insecurity 

We have cars, trucks and drivers. We also have passengers. These are the three things. Let us start with the cars and trucks. They are all tracked. The tracking system we use is not the tracking system that you see everywhere. Our tracking system is 24/7. We can demobilise our trucks anytime. We monitor the vehicles in order not to allow our cars go beyond certain places. Now let’s go to the drivers. We ensure all our drivers are certified by the police. They bring two guarantors and we verify the guarantors. We don’t do one verification and stop. We do six months verification of the guarantors; where they live, we also find out where you have worked before. If we don’t have letter from where you worked before, you wouldn’t be confirmed and you will leave the system. We have to have a letter from where you have worked before and your character in that place. Let’s also go to the passengers. We educate our passengers and we have CD in the car that teaches all the safety tips that passengers must know. For our passengers, we educate them on what they need to know about security. We have spy police and we have trained most of our drivers as spy police. If we have a high risk client, we recommend the use of a spy police. If you are going to high risk area, we recommend the use of spy police or a trained driver who knows the terrain of that area. We maintain safety of our vehicles, drivers and passengers. We take time to do pre journey security assessment and post journey security assessment.

 

 

THE SUN

 

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