What do you currently do?
I am the co-founder and CEO of Auto Service Finance. We’re a London based start-up, working with car dealerships to make it easier for consumers to pay for their servicing and repairs. Instead of paying their bills up-front, we allow consumers to spread the costs over three monthly instalments, interest-free with no hidden costs.
Hundreds of car dealerships across the UK offer our finance solution to their customers as an alternative to paying upfront because it makes the whole experience a much better one: customers can afford the work they want done and dealerships sell the work that needs to be done.
Within two years, offering customers instalments on automotive aftersales will be an industry standard. Dealerships that fail to do so will be left behind. So, as co-founder I guess I’m tasked with making sure as many dealerships as possible in the UK are on board from an early stage.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
All we wanted to do was solve a problem; most car repairs are a painful expense and many consumers cannot afford them. I saw the problem first-hand at a previous job in the automotive industry and was intrigued that no one was following the forward thinking high street retailers and offering payment solutions. A car is a critical part of life for most UK consumers; if it makes sense to be able to buy a sofa on instalments, surely it makes sense to be able to pay for car upkeep in the same way?
Who do you admire?
Eddie Jones (head coach of the England national rugby team), a man whose leadership and ability to realise potential in teams was born on the rugby field but whose no-nonsense approach is respected and applicable across any field. Eddie sees things differently and isn’t afraid to make hard decisions to realise a vision; this is the distillation of what makes him admirable and something I try to emulate.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes absolutely. There are hundreds of things. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, I would argue that most decisions we make could have been better. But what has got us to where we are is the ability to avoid wasting time by trying to optimise for a perfect solution. We all make imperfect decisions on a regular basis, but with each decision comes progress.
What defines your way of doing business?
At Auto Service Finance we first and foremost think about the problem we are solving. How we solve it is really important to us. We are transparent and friendly to everyone we deal with – from our customers to the chairman of our board. We also take responsibility for everything we do. I am accountable for every facet of our business and so is our entire team. And alongside all that, we make traditional boring finance into something fun, which helps consumers to pay their bills and dealerships to grow their businesses.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
I have five simple tips:
- Try things that you can measure. And when you do, make sure you learn and repeat.
- Focus on daily progress, whether that is in sales or internal systems and processes. If you make progress every day, the weeks and months will take care of themselves.
- Hire people who are passionate. Do not work with anyone who is not. There are inevitable lows we all experience along the rocky start-up road; often it’s just the passion and belief in the vision that gets you through – and anyone that has neither will not help you succeed.
- Find allies/partners and make them love your business.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. Anything.