Stefan Kadlubowski - An Entrepreneur's Tale
JFP is currently facilitator of Group Mentoring sessions for the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. Around a dozen owners of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) attend.
On 11th May 2015, Stefan Kadlubowski, Founder /Director of the MKG3000 Motor Group was our guest speaker. He started the company in 1999 and now operates from two locations in Twickenham, having acquired Mazda and Volvo franchises.
The company has turnover of circa £18 million and has 37 employees. Here are seven points from his presentation:
1.During his fifteen years in business, it has not always been easy going.
When he left employment, he had lined up a major investor, who subsequently withdrew at short notice. He then went to his bank for finance and was turned down - but leaving the meeting he fortuitously bumped into a Lloyds Bowmaker Manager, who knew Stefan had won sales awards with his previous employer and arranged the necessary funds.
During the company’s infancy, there were severe cash flow constraints - just at the time Stefan’s father became seriously ill and died in Canada. Two weeks out of the office for a small startup company is never ideal, but Stefan and his business partner managed to keep the company going through this difficult time. (A few years ago SK’s business partner also passed away, which was another major blow).
But as Stefan says, quoting the best advice he ever received: you have to “roll with the punches!” No matter how bad the day has gone - and it may feel as if your world is collapsing - if you can “roll with the punches” tomorrow is a different day and things are never as bad. Answers will come to you…
2.For any business cash flow management is of paramount importance - the motor industry is no exception.
Stefan realized at an early stage that he had to have a system that monitored his cash flow on a daily basis - this he did - and even nowadays, he will continuously review incomes and expenditures in great detail.
3.One of the reasons for his company’s success was adapting to new technology at an early stage.
When Auto Trader went on-line, he was one of the first to make use of it. Other dealers held back, which allowed Stefan to forge ahead.
4.When Stefan hires employees he does not just find someone to meet a Job Description, he hires people, whose strengths he can maximize. If they have the right attitude, he can train them to sell.
5.Obtaining a major motor dealership is for most people very difficult. Stefan asked Mazda on many occasions and was turned down - but like all good entrepreneurs he was persistent and when he found a property in Twickenham he approached them again - not only did he secure the site - but he asked Mazda to finance it, which they did. Other people would not have even asked.
6.When it comes to customers, Stefan and his employees will continuously look to meet their needs. The Customer is King.
So when Mazda announced that when a customer could not travel to a Mazda franchise to collect their car, it should be driven to the customer’s house.
Mazda were surprised to find out that Stefan and his team had been doing this for years!
7.In business, one should always be learning something new. Stefan realised this and between 2005 and 2007 he took a part-time Masters degree in Business Strategy from Loughborough University. Very few of those who started the course finished - and although he thought of quitting on many occasions, he persevered and finally graduated with an MSc.
In the end, it was worth the effort.