The GDL Story: How to build a business from nothing.

Mobile Mechanic St Ives

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Mobile Mechanic St ivesTranscript: Okay, so we’re talking about putting together a series of video blogs for our audience to gather some of the valuable content we’re releasing online by video rather than having to read through a heap of text. But we thought before we got too deep into episodes and episodes of why you shouldn’t buy Holden Captivas, we’d give you maybe the story behind how GDL got started, maybe some of the people that helped us to get to where we are and where we are planning to go from here. So it all started back around 2008/2009. At the time I was working full time for a garage off the side of a service station down in Manly. I was living in Crows Nest at the time and I didn’t own a vehicle, which is very ironic for a motor mechanic, so I was catching a bus down into Manly and then walking over to the servo everyday. My boss at the time very generously gave me a Daewoo Lanos ,which was unregistered and barely running, and I got that thing going and I had a car. So using that car, I then was encouraged greatly encouraged by my minister of my church at the time that perhaps the best thing for my career would be to branch out and set up on my own. Not willing to take the full leap at once…looking back I probably could have but in hindsight sight it’s a fantastic thing.  I started doing work for friends and family after hours and kept my full time job. This very quickly showed that this business model was profitable…even though it was just me operating as a mobile mechanic. So I was operating at mum and dad’s car port. They lived at Forestville at the time…and was doing it after hours. So I picked up my client’s vehicles using this Daewoo that I’d been given on the way home from work carrying out repairs and servicing, rolling around in the rain and mud and dirt or whatever had to happen, and then returning the vehicle usually quite late at night or early morning with keys in letterboxes and things like that, getting a few hours sleep and then heading back to my day job from 7:30 to 5:30. This went on for a couple of years until I was operating at minimal sleep. As I built up my clientele I was starting to get to the stage where I couldn’t fit all the work in and I was running on two or three hours of sleep a night, which I don’t advise. So I took the leap and resigned from my full time job and operated full time as the mobile mechanic mainly spaced out at mum and dad’s place. However, we had discovered that the clients really liked and saw the appeal in that pickup service that we were offering. We were initially offering that simply because I had to get the vehicles to mum and dad’s place at an hour that was inconvenient for my clients, however that had developed a taste in them for the convenience offered, so through demand kept offering that pickup service and that’s kind of become our point of difference years and years down the track. We never got rid of that model and still pick the cars up. So going back to the carport in Forestville, we operated out of there for a couple years, built the clientele up… full credit to my church network who backed me, and my friends and family, which is where it all started at. I remember looking back now, I remember needing one job a day to keep the doors open so to speak. Ironically we’re now averaging about 15-18 jobs a day and one job a day would sink us but that’s the start up phase I guess you’d call it. At some point a few years after we got up and operating, mum and dad separated and had to sell the property so I put a call out to my network of contacts that I was using and the boys at Narrabeen Towing very generously rented me extremely cheaply a one bay workshop that they had established at the back of the towing yard. So my operation moved to Narrabeen, we kept the pickup service and we operated out at Narrabeen Towing for a few years. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it weren’t for Narrabeen Towing and the Seymour family and what they did for us. They really gave us a leg up and helped us get to where we are. They brought in a lot of work for us, business advice when I was still very raw in business, and we eventually got to the stage where we outgrew Narrabeen Towing. So then we went on the hunt and we located one of the two stores that we’re still operating out of in Warriewood, and we bought that and started buying up some equipment to establish the shop as our own. That started as a one bay shop and a little time in there we built a second bay and put in our first staff member. That’s when Johnny came on board. And slowly over the years, expanded that into a third bay. And then in about…what are we now…2018. So it would have been about 2016 we got too big for this shop so we acquired one on the same site and now operating five bays out of two different sites. At its peak I think we had 13 staff…some of that was job share. Currently I think we’re at seven staff with a gross turnover of about 1.3 million a year. So…got some future plans to set up some sister stores…take that business model that we’re finding works quite well. We’ve systemised the business. It very efficiently runs without me here. Anybody can come in, learn our systems and operate GDL, and the idea being that a client could have the exact identical experience at a sister store as they have at the Warriewood store without me being the point of contact. That’s kind of the story to date. To be fair to a lot of people, we’d never have got here without the help of other people. No one ever really makes it on their own. We have to take our hats off to Narrabeen Towing, to my parents who’ve offered that initial workspace to us free of charge, to particularly the church networks that I’m part of… I would not got this business off the ground if it weren’t for them and obviously our friend network who have and still unconditionally support the business so thank you and watch this space for some exciting developments in the coming years.

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