Role and company:CEO of Climatecars
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):Latest 12 months show us approaching £5m turnover with a GP of 40 per cent.
Employee numbers:Some 50 plus and approximately 200 drivers
Growth forecast for the next three years:We aim to continue the steady 30 per cent pa revenue growth demonstrated in recent years for the foreseeable future – whilst possible to grow more quickly, we are focused on sustainable business. The net profit margin will improve each year as our staff and other overheads are largely prepared for the growth to come, with few major step changes required.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:It’s the combination of service and value whilst still being environmentally friendly that sets Climatecars apart – there is no other car service in London that comes close.
What’s the big vision for your business?The big vision for Climatecars was laid out when Nicko Williamson founded the company; to provide a fantastic service of both quality and value whilst remaining environmentally friendly. We will continue to demonstrate that it can be done and at significant scale.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:Clients regularly ask us to arrange travel abroad, which we cover with select affiliates, but our focus is presently the London market. We are very keen to consider foreign markets, and have established specific targets, but will only do so when it can be done with no detriment to our existing business and client service levels.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:Moving to London with no friends or family down here and accepting a job at Lehman Brothers with a start date of November 2008 was quite a set back when they went under in the October of that same year… I very quickly learned to adapt to my environment and call upon prior experience when relevant. The economic downturn actually set up a number of interesting opportunities for me as someone having previously worked within high-level corporate restructuring.
What makes you mad in business today?People just doing ‘enough’. Nothing irks me more. People that know me will often hear me say “compare to perfect” as it is only by aiming for the stars that you will hit the roof. Those that aim only for the roof will never get off the floor.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?The big change that is already underway, and has been coming through slowly for some time now, is the technology transformation. This started with computerising the paper docket systems, it then automated the booking allocation process and today we have apps reducing overhead requirement even further. The next and most logical big jump I see is driverless cars, but it will likely be the other side of three years before being mass market.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?This industry suffers from a sadly true historic stereotype that perhaps reduces the appetite of those we might seek finance from. As in other sectors though, access to money of any kind is equally as much, if not more, about your plan and the likely return. The advancement of technology has now completely negated the need for the archaic personality traits that were once required to succeed in this industry and so the poor image is falling away slowly. Plans and returns are obviously now being demonstrated well too, as evidenced by the entrance of some big equity players buying in in recent years. All of this points to improvement taking place as we speak…
How would others describe your leadership style?Firm, fair and logical. People know that they won’t always like what they hear, but they do know that I will always look at the situation logically with a fair mind.
Your biggest personal extravagance?If defining extravagance as wasteful spending; I remember paying £50 for a bottle of water in a Leeds club when I was young and stupid.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:I’d only need one minute for stage one; ask those able-bodied claimants of job seeker benefits to work for local start-up businesses in exchange for their money.
Stage two would require a longer meeting… By Shané Schutte
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