Foster: Build brands that last
NURTURE YOUR BRAND, make sure your company is built to last and innovate.
These were just some of the pointers co-founder of Automotive Art Dereck Foster offered to fellow entrepreneurs when he delivered a public lecture recently.
Speaking on the invitation of the National Insurance Board at the Frank Collymore Hall on the topic Building A Globally Competitive Business – The Automotive Art Story, Foster said a great brand was critical to success.
“With a well-managed brand your company hardly needs to introduce itself,”?he said. “In your target market, people will already know your business, its personality, and the promise you make to customers through your marketing and communications . . .”
He noted, however, that without a well-managed brand, “you have to build the case for your business before every sale”.
Foster also suggested planning for the long-term future of the business.
“Leaders in companies have to make decisions daily that could produce short term gains but have dire consequences for the long term health of the company.
“At Automotive Art, we want our company to grow and prosper long after we who founded it have moved on. As such, when we are faced with a decision, we always take into account the long-term consequences as opposed to short-term gains,” he said.
Foster said Automotive Art did not pay dividends for the first 15 years of its existence, despite generating profits, because the money was needed to fuel the company’s growth.
“That said, every year we paid our employees bonuses because we believe that they help us generate the profits and we need them to be gratified,” he said.
Foster said innovation had kept the business ahead of the competition.
“We were one of the first, if not the first, company to truly brand everything; our building, our vehicles, our staff uniforms, everything we could. We were the first company in the tyre business to introduce air-conditioned waiting rooms with television and coffee. More importantly, we were first to make women feel comfortable coming to shop in what was traditionally a male-dominated environment,” he said.
He added that Automotive Art was the only automotive aftermarket business in the Caribbean, and one of the few in the world, that had its own paint brand, along with many other private labels in categories like batteries, chemicals, wheels and accessories. (NB)