My company, Creative Rides, currently has four employees, including my partner and I. Although we’re a “workshop” focused on altering all types of cars in different ways, I’m doing the opposite of large corporations … I’m encouraging use of the internet and it’s certainly affecting on my bottom line each day that goes by. Here’s how …
Firstly, I think I should reveal a little bit of information about our company. It was started up by a 21-year-old car enthusiast from East London last year. He was fortunate enough to have an enthusiastic father who invested in his idea and was prepared to let him leave uni unfinished. Creative Rides was born and had a clear-cut aim — to build awesome custom promotional vehicles for people to buy and rent as well as to sell imported performance and aesthetic parts for cars.
This optimistic vision was great in theory, but here in South African it was a tad optimistic — the company found itself creating a reputation for building the most awesome rides, but to this day is yet to sell or rent one of them. Luckily the selling of parts has kept it alive for now.
Earlier this year I obtained an interest in the business as I could see massive potential in its capabilities. They were, in a way, great developers capable of using several operating languages and I had some nifty application designs. Together we could make a killer application — the metaphorical Facebook of motoring in South Africa.
Since I formally joined the business two months ago as operations and marketing director, we have made some drastic strategy changes and some incredible things have sprouted out of many long and intense conversations we have each morning — my way of extracting the ideas and creativity of the others so I can lay these down logically and turn them into a packaged product that will pay the rent at the end of each month.
My partner would say: “If only we could bring in quality products like House of Kolor, it would give us an edge in the very small classic car restoration field.” We are now the sole distributors for House of Kolor paints on the African continent and have set up distribution in Johannesburg and Cape Town. We’ve got our paint on more than 10 vehicles in less than two months.
Our car audio division was faced with a mammoth problem in that we had no passing trade due to our business-park/warehouse location. Our high point was that we were an official dealer for the extremely well-known Rockford Fosgate car audio range — there are only a few in Johannesburg, and the company runs a very tight ship when selecting fitment centres. A mobile billboard is sorting this problem out and making people in the Fourways area aware that we exist. The Rockford Fosgate brand was never being put to use for us until now.
So now that you know more about our business, you’re probably asking: What does all this have to do with internet-savvy employees?
When I arrived at my offices, the first challenge was to establish a new core business direction and translate this into a simple website. I had the staff search the web and report back on what they thought worked and why. From this we designed and developed Creativerides.co.za which is yielding great results for us.
Ninety percent of House of Kolor’s sales have been a direct result of the brand-specific website we uploaded at Houseofkolor.co.za. Literally the day Google indexed it, the phones started ringing with ecstatic clients blessing us for finally making the brand available in South Africa.
Just this morning we procured the sale of an iPod integration kit for a guy who found out about what we do on Ananzi — a simple listing my workshop manager opted to add a few weeks back while searching for images of lekker custom car sound systems to inspire him.
We’ve set up a wireless network that has streamlined our quotation timeframes and allows our customers to do some work while they wait for their cars. My partner sits online practically all day sourcing old classics we can buy, rebuild and sell. He sources all his parts online and we work very closely with our agents overseas using Skype and MSN Messenger.
Facebook, the dreaded social site, has procured business for us. I simply uploaded images of some of the cars in our shop a few weeks back and suddenly people were sending messages like “I didn’t know you did that, what can you do for me?”.
My passionate employees are encouraged to surf niche forums and post images of their work, which sparks an inferno of emails — people from all around the country who share this passion want to know and see more. They often turn into clients.
Even right now, writing this blog post end exposing why encouraging my employees to embrace the net has helped our business, I have exposed you to the various services and products we can offer people, even Web 2.0-crazy blogger people or journalists from around South Africa.
I’ll have to let you know if anything comes of it!