If only every Uber and Grab Driver is like THIS GUY

Annadurai, or affectionately known as Auto Anna, could possibly be the most popular auto driver in India. For those who have never been to I...

Annadurai, or affectionately known as Auto Anna, could possibly be the most popular auto driver in India. For those who have never been to India, the auto rickshaw is a common mode of urban transport there, and there are tens of thousands of them in the larger Indian cities. So what makes Auto Anna so different from the rest? He's so popular that he has given two Ted Talks and is much sought after for interviews and to speak on customer service to corporate audiences.


Well, a ride on this industrious chap's auto rickshaw is like flying first class but at economy prices. Annadurai makes sure that he has eight newspapers and about 35 magazine in the rickshaw, in case his customers want something read during the ride. He pays for mobile WiFi and has an iPad and laptop in the rickshaw, which riders can use for browsing while in commute. There is an in-car TV installed, and Annadurai subscribes to programmes in eight dialect and languages, including Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, and "Western" (that means English). When each customer steps into his vehicle, he customises the experience for them, greeting them in the dialect of their preference, and changing the television and radio programmes accordingly.

Annadurai even gives free rides to teachers, and to lovers on Valentine's Day (aaaw), mums on Mother's Day (aaaaaaw) and dads on Father's Day (aaaaaaaaawww). He also organises monthly contests with cash prizes for his customers. When he realised that it was a hassle for them to carry small change, he got a "swiping machine" aka credit card machine and began accepting payments for rides, even for as low as Rs. 10 (65 cents), and that is despite him having to bear the additional costs that comes with accepting credit card payments. 

Providing all these extras comes at quite a price for Annadurai. He spends about Rs. 9,000–10,000 (MYR580–640) a month for all these enhancements, but as many successful entrepreneurs will tell you, when you put the customer's experience first and profit margins second, business will boom. And boom it did for Annadurai—while he used to wait for customers, his customer now wait for him, specifically along Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai, where he plies his trade and where many IT companies are located. When he is not busy with giving speeches, interviews and building an auto-hailing app (yes, he's doing that too), he earns Rs. 2,000–3,000 (MYR130–190) a day from his auto riskshaw business; we did the math for you: if he works only 20 days a week, he spends somewhere between 15% to 25% of his earnings on enhancing the customer experience.

Someone even made a short documentary on him, and we think it's worth watching:


In one of the talks he gave, at the ITEM Business School in Chennai, he said that "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work." For someone who is a self-described "high school dropout" on his Facebook Page , he truly is an inspiring guy!

image: Facebook


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