With ‘water conservation’ and ‘sustainability of scarce resources’ becoming an essential aspect of every domain of our planet today, Elizabeth Kuruvilla leads UAE’s first Green Car Spa, Green Shine, with the objective of limiting water wastage in the auto care industry. Her company provides waterless and organic alternatives to all Auto Cleaning and Detailing services that are required to keep one’s car pristine and shining. Whatsmore, these waterless spa packages can be availed of by the customer, even at his doorstep, without moving his car – while his garage remains as clean and dry as ever!
Her commendable efforts in this field are inspirational. “While 1/3rd of the world reels without water for basic needs, I believe that wasting water on mundane activities such as cleaning your car, is criminal” she shares. Hence, when she came across this concept of waterless cleaning/detailing of cars, she fell for it and gave up her lucrative corporate career to set it up here in this part of the world.
Mission to A Water-Sustainable Tomorrow
While all five pillars of Energy, Water, Food, Ecology & Waste need sustainability, water is critical as it forms the basis of life and is an indispensable basic need for any form of life. As UAE is high on the list of per capita water consumers, owing partially to wastage in the Auto Care industry, it is vital to work towards ameliorating water levels for future generations – starting with replacing the water guzzling traditional auto car wash system, with much more efficient and far superior methods.
She states, “At a very nominal rate of 100 liters per wash and one wash per week, this works out to over a billion gallons of water that could otherwise be put to life-saving needs.”
Over and above contributing to carbon footprint reduction as compared to traditional methods of car wash, Green Shine’s comprehensive range of waterless and biodegradable Smart Liquids also enable longer life for the car body ( being chemical-free) as well as cleaner and safer surroundings (no drainage issues), leading to better city landscaping while also providing better working conditions for customers and staff.
The road to success, as we all know, is strewn with stumbling blocks. Perseverance, she shares, is the key. “Anybody who has set up a business knows that nothing ever goes ‘as per plan.’ You have to learn to be flexible enough to adapt to the setbacks/changes required.” While setting up her business, her first step was a thorough research to reaffirm suitability of the product to the market chosen, competition, future scalability of business and so on – essential steps for anyone who wants the hard work put in, to reap rich results.
Initially, even building a customer base proved to be a hurdle. Wash being synonymous with water, getting customers on-board to quit the popular water wash method and rely on waterless techniques was equivalent to bringing about a total change of deep-rooted mindsets. However, with consistent and adamant efforts of offering demos and providing free services, her team was able to build trust and break all barriers slowly, but surely – turning some initially reluctant customers into even life long ones.
Currently, Green Shine works on a 3-tier service provision:
- Direct outlets for the consumer to avail of its waterless services
- Mass fleet operators where these waterless services are carried out enmasse on a daily basis.
- Appointing franchisees to apply the same models in other GCC countries.
Standing out in the Highly-Competitive Market
Elizabeth emphasizes that Customer is King and constant communication with customers is core to establishing long-lasting relationships. As times change, customer demands evolve. Businesses grow only if they continue to meet changing customer expectations. Competitors then face an uphill task trying to surpass your trust in the market.
She confidently adds, “Any business that rests on its past laurels will die eventually – you have to be on a constant path of evolution, adding to your product/ service portfolio and using the right platform to create awareness of these new offers among your target customer base.”
Having chosen the path less trodden, positive feedback from loyal customers, she says, is one medium that always keeps her motivated. She enjoys meeting her customers at various outlets to get a feel of their requirements and the market, in general. According to her, “Feedback can be in different forms – not always verbal or in writing. To me, a repeat customer is the best form of feedback. When we see our loyal customers bring in all their cars (some with 4 or 5 in the family) day after day, year after year, for all their cleaning and detailing needs, our sense of achievement is complete.”
Leading The Dream Life As An Entrepreneur
For Elizabeth, transforming from a stable Corporateur to her dream-life of entrepreneur was arduous but highly satisfying. With the noble aim of helping, in whatever small way, to eradicating water scarcity of the future, she is on the mission of converting atleast 50% of all car owners in UAE to waterless ways of cleaning/detailing. As a recognition of this inspirational step, she has been at the receiving end of several awards:
- One of the 5 finalists at the Emirates Woman Ambition Awards co-sponsored by INSEAD and Emirates Woman magazine (2012 –year of incorporation in UAE)
- “Dow Prize for Sustainability” at Acumen, Dubai Chapter (2013)
- Top 3 ‘Green Businesses of the Year’ at SME Stars of Business Awards co-sponsored by Dubai Economic Council (2014)
- “Admirable Woman Entrepreneur” Award at SME Stars of Business Awards (2015)
For her, however, the best reward is the growing awareness among larger portions of society, previously dependent on water-based auto cleaning/detailing methods, of the need to turn to waterless ways.
Elizabeth manages to maintain service quality through the plethora of supervisors appointed at different branches, making sure services rendered are all top-notch. She adds, “I spend a lot of time with my staff who are truly the backbone and the front of my organization (Labour contributes to 40% of her total cost) – not just to ensure that they feel valued but also because through them I get to gauge the pulse of the market best.”
Green Shine’s Future Roadmap to Success
Elizabeth states, “Green Shine’s target customer is one who loves his/her car and spends time, money, and effort in keeping it looking ‘as good as new’. Her 5-year plan is to expand to atleast 20% of UAE’s population, through making her services available to as wide a cross-section of her target customers as possible – by opening up more and more outlets at right locations. Applying the 20-80 ratio, it is this 20% of these targeted customers that will contribute to saving 80% of water wasted thru Auto care activities.”
The outlets have been endorsed wholeheartedly by customers and this truly reaffirms her belief about the widespread environment awareness in the UAE, thanks largely to a number of Government initiatives . It feels good, she says, to see customers leave with the satisfaction of ‘ not only having a super clean car…but also with a very clear conscience!’.