Interview with Amit B Wadhwani, Director, Sai Estate Consultants
Amit B. Wadhwani , Director, Sai Estate Consultants is the man behind the steep growth of a small-time real-estate broking firm in 2010 to an ISO & CRISIL certified real-estate organisation with a sales turnover worth Rs. 2000 Crore today. In conversation with Sapna Srivastava, he briefs about his journey.
Entering the office of Sai Estate Consultants in one of Chembur’s newer buildings,one can feel the vibrancy and the buzz of activity around. Most of the workforce is young men and women with high energy levels. Keeping them motivated is one challenge that Amit Wadhwani, the young second generation entrepreneur of 33 years is undoubtedly doing well. “Brokers have always been seen as unsophisticated and unrefined guys. As I come from an airlines work background, and had the soft skills on how to treat a client, it became a differentiator and an advantage for me in this sector.”
Belonging to a simple middle class family, Amit dropped out of college to start working with Jet airways as a flight steward to support his parents and younger brother. After seven years of working at the airlines and experiencing various nationalities & people and traveling the world, he forayed into the brokerage segment. “I always want to achieve even more. Entering the broking business was social suicide for me at that time. Many of my friends, unfriended me on social sites,” Amit told laughingly.
I want to change the perception of brokers and broking business among home buyers.”
“When I started, the only infrastructure I had was a car, Bluetooth, a mobile and internet as the only medium to advertise that I am a local real-estate agent.First year of business was tough. It was a one man show. My strategy was not to be a competition to the local big brokers and consciously decided not to get in touch with the flat owners, but interact only with those who wished to take flats on rent. I would post free ads online, capture the response and service the client in a professional manner. Chembur at that time was the central area connected to Lower Parel, freeway and south Mumbai which helped me in a big way as the demand for rental accommodation was good.My benchmark of earning was to make minimum the double of the Jet Airways salary that I had left. As most of the rent property clients are corporate, they were happy to find a broker who could talk in polished English with refined manners. The other established brokers were happy as I was bringing them clients for their vacant apartments. That is how, though I was new in the business, I gained footing and steadily grew the company,” Amit recounted.
I had always been interested in equity market, mutual funds & real-estate and started trading while working with airlines. Like any middle class Indian, owning a home was a dream. This triggered my interest in real-estate and I decided to work on model of only ‘leave and license’ business mainly in Chembur area in 2010.
As I sat in his plush office, sipping on black coffee, it was hard not to notice Amit having a glass of hot water. A health enthusiast he informs that beverages, junk food and alcohol are some of the things he keeps away from and sleeping hours is where he needs improvement. “I am passionate about what I do i.e. getting people their homes at the prices they can afford. While other brokers negotiate with buyers that an extra few thousand are not much given the lakhs of property they are buying, I understand what a few thousand also mean for a buyer when he is making a huge investment of his lifetime. My agents are always available to the clients for even smallest of the queries which helps reassure them that they are being taken care of. I am in my office by 9.30 am and am available to my staff on phone or message till almost 4.00 am,”stated Amit.
Amit is now joined by his brother Vicky Wadhwani, an MBA and Managing Director of Sai Estate Consultants. The one man firm of 2010 grew to a 25 employee organization by 2013. According to Amit, this was a huge achievement as the young guys who had offers from banks and BPOs were reluctant to join a broking company with no brand name in the industry. Amit hired them at 30% more salaries and in just over a year by 2014, the company has 40 members. He elaborated, “The people I hire are primarily from airlines industry as they have the service background, soft skills and are English trained. They have humble & compassionate attitude that comes from serving the passengers.”The company at that time was making revenues of 300-350 Crore in sales in a year.
In last seven years a lot has changed, earlier considered a demeaning profession, today REMI, MBA School graduates are looking at broking business as a lucrative career.