Monthly Archives: October 2016

10 Things to Drive Chileautos Further


carsales launched the new Soloautos website in September (9 Things Moving Soloautos in Mexico) and today carsales is very happy to have released the new Chileautos.cl website.

Both sites will benefit from the same features but the Chileautos deploy signifies some significant economies of scale in the LatAm region, none the least was the speed in which the website was integrated following the successful deploy of Soloautos last month.
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Here’s 10 things we’ve implemented into Chileautos that we think will give the business a kick along:

1. New logo. Chileautos is our second international brand to adopt the carsales “swish” making it instantly recognizable as a carsales brand. We’ve kept the Chileautos red and blue in the logo and have added the lock up “El portal No 1 de vehiculos”.

2. New website. Now much cleaner, stronger action points throughout the site with larger vehicle photos. Along with the new logo, the new website signals to OEMs in particular that Chileautos is a destination point for not only used cars but for new cars as well.
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3. Ryvuss search. carsales‘ proprietary search platform has been integrated into the new website giving Chileautos best in class search and search navigation capabilities.

4. New Cars. Chileautos is clearly Chile’s number 1 automotive vertical portal with a very strong reputation in used cars. Now Chileautos has information and photos available on every new car available for sale in Chile which is an exciting proposition for car buyers, dealers and OEMs.

5. New sell pages. Cleaner and clearer process to point sellers to the selling package that is right for them.
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6. Autologia integration. Autologia is our editorial brand which we acquired some months ago and have now integrated tightly into Soloautos and now Chileautos, tailored to the Chilean market. This is a great result for all car buyers, researchers and enthusiasts visiting Chileautos.

7. Better SEO structures. This is a very important piece of the new website so that we do not lose any domain authority that Chileautos has built up over the years. SEO helps consumers find the right information in the Chileautos when searching for cars in Google Chile – remember Google is for searching, Chileautos is for finding.

8. Move into AWS. By moving Chileautos into the cloud we immediately get an uplift in scalability, reliability, disaster recovery options and response times, not to mention carsales management and support with the website now sitting next to all carsales other online assets.
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9. New display advertising options. The new Chileautos website enables us to offer OEM’s, dealers, finance companies, insurance companies and the like more targeted, integrated advertising options that compliments the inventory and editorial focus of the site.

10. Back end integration. Not only does the new website integrate seamlessly with the existing Chileautos dealer control panel, it also integrates into the carsales Autogate system. This enables Chileautos to provide an increased level of service to existing dealers using existing tools and also gives Chileautos the opportunity to leverage from Autogate’s proven lead management features.

This is just the start of things to come and it is certainly an exciting time for Chileautos and Chileans looking to buy and sell cars!


3 Alternatives When Acquiring or Starting a Business


Despite my relatively risk adverse nature, I’ve been in the position of successfully starting a technology based business (with a successful exit) and also acquiring a going concern in a completely different field.

In both of these businesses I had partners – in the startup we had a US business (49%), myself (25.5%) and a partner (25.5%) and in the acquisition we have four of us (2×30% incl me & 2×20%).
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Now, imagine the opportunity to buy the company in which you are the Managing Director of a very good, profitable business which is owned by an international company and you have the ability (i.e. access to funds or otherwise) to acquire 100% of the company yourself.

Would you:

a) acquire 100% yourself;

b) invite partners in to split the shareholding evenly; or

c) buy control (51%) and invite your best/key people already in the business to acquire the remaining 49%?
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I know some that would go the 100% option for sure (“partnerships don’t work” is a quote that sticks in my head) and probably most I know would look down the partner angle to split the risk (and reward) relatively evenly.

I believe that the smartest option from a risk perspective here is third one. Not only do you have control of a business with great potential that you know intimately, you would also have your best, hand picked people all with “skin in the game” with a lot more riding on their day to day performance than collecting a pay check each month.

My opinion is based on seeing all three options at work close by me including the most successful business people I know personally and of course weighing in my risk tolerance.
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Owning a business 100% and being able to call all the shots is certainly attractive but you had want to ready to roll up your sleeves and be prepared to ensure you protect your investment. Not that having partners in the business precludes you from doing this but the buck starts and stops with you from a risk/reward perspective.

My risk profile dictates why I love the option of ensuring you have control of the business (the shareholders agreement would need to reflect this) and having key people who you trust and know are good for the business, tied up in the success of the business.

There is no right answer here. After all, we are all different!


What If Your Business Meeting Was Televised?


AFL (Australian Football Lague for my international friends) is now a fully professional sport with clubs turning over in excess of $70m per year and the players average salary getting up to ~$300,000 per year with some over the $1m mark.

You read it all the time that it is a business and for the players it is a full time job.

The AFLPA (Players Association) is always pushing the case for the players to be treated like other industries. The fact is that it is not like any other industry.

The lifespan of the average AFL player is 4 years and the good ones might get past 10. In the whole scheme of a working life it isn’t a big percentage so they should be compensated in line with what the industry is generating, especially since they are the star attraction.
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One argument I don’t get though is the “24/7” argument, that football is with them everywhere they go – they have to look after their bodies, they can’t go out without getting recognised, etc.

Do they not think that other industries are 24/7 as well? Most people I work with are available day and night with my smartphone; something is always happening and in today’s connected world work is hard to get away from. Wouldn’t it be great to sit at home all day resting your body and not getting hassled by email or messenger for work matters?

The scrutiny in the public eye that they come under when on the field is something that (thankfully) the majority of us don’t encounter. Take the example earlier this year when Richmond lost to Collingwood by 1 point with a goal kicked with 4 seconds remaining.
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Richmond were 17 points up with around 4 minutes remaining. Through a combination of undisciplined errors they allowed Collingwood to kick 3 goals and literally steal the game. These players get paid to play and win. The expectation is that they train all year around to execute their skills under pressure, especially when it counts. The Richmond players failed to do this and the media hammered them.

I just happened to sit next to three Richmond players at a cafe in the days after the game I am referring to. I was to into my muesli and the daily paper to overhear anything until I was getting up to pay my bill. “A game goes for 2 hours; we are going to f**k up at some point”, one of them said with the other two nodding their heads in acknowledgement.

I wonder how’d we’d go in business getting a business presentation to a huge prospective client screened live with commentary? Then have it all dissected by the media in the days following.
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You perform well right the way through your negotiations, good body language, assertive, confident and answering all questions with authority. It gets towards the end of the meeting, time to try and close the deal. The client throws in a curve ball that you weren’t expecting. You stutter, not sure where to look. They throw the ball in your court to accept their terms there and then (wasn’t it meant to be the other way around, you are thinking).

You lose the deal. What would be the feedback your boss would give you in the video review? What about the media reporting on it?

Would make the performance review far more interesting.


No Online Third Party Marketplaces


Online third party marketplaces like carsales, Webmotors, Soloautos, Chileautos and Encar play an important role in connecting car buyers and sellers.

For car buyers they provide choice and information in the one place when looking for their next car.

For car sellers they enable their inventory to be put in front of millions of buyers and compete on equal footing to other sellers no matter the size.

Now, let’s imagine an online world with no online automotive third party marketplaces. How would sellers get their cars seen by buyers and how would buyers find the right car for them?

Dealers would have to rely on their own website to advertise their cars to sell. Yes the vast majority have their own website today but it is a totally different cost and investment conversation if they had to rely on their own website to attract buyers.
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The massive investments and efforts third party marketplaces make to get the right car for the right buyer would be the domain of the dealer. Just like the old days when a dealer had to get a spot with good through traffic on a main road, smaller dealers would be up against it again.

The search engine giant(s) and those who have created business around it (i.e. SEM, SEO “experts”) would love it if dealers had to rely on how their website ranked in search, organically or paid.

Car buyers are buying new cars whether they be new or used – have you ever heard someone show you their “new used car”, they always buy a new car it’s just some are used – and third party marketplaces are the only place where new and used are presented equally.

This is an important part of today’s online world that I think is overlooked by most. Buyers come to third party marketplaces to narrow their car search so by mixing new and used together the buyer’s comparison set is broadened, bringing in cars they probably didn’t know yet could afford and/or were available.
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Advertising in print still wouldn’t be viable so investing in the dealer website at a level far exceeding today would have to be the way forward.

I’m not even sure what private sellers would do. I guess they’d have to advertise in the newspapers per pre-Internet and rely on the publisher to list everything online that they have offline, a throw back to the News Limited and Fairfax 1990’s business plans. Maybe the publications like the Trading Post would still have currency?

Facebook Marketplace isn’t even the answer. How many of you want to sell your car to a “friend” really?

Online third party automotive marketplaces are a natural fit in the same way a Google is for search in navigating in today’s connected world.


Danger Doing Business in Brazil? Pfft!


Embarrassingly, I’d never heard of São Paulo before carsales started to talk to Santander about its Webmotors business just a few years back.

Not many people in Australia know anything about São Paulo as I think when most people in Australia think of Brazil they think of Carnival in Rio, the Amazon jungle and lots of danger.

The danger part is what I get asked about the most each time I visit our Webmotors business.
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This is especially so when articles like naming world’s most dangerous cities in a news.com.au article on 28 January 2016 in which Brazil had 21 of the top 50 named and Latin America 41 of the 50 (http://www.news.com.au/world/the-worlds-most-dangerous-cities-have-been-named/news-story/094d3710262f823329bbea27f9eb3744).

São Paulo wasn’t on the list but when you have a city like São Paulo with 23m people (in the greater area) of which a great percentage are poor, there is going to be a lot of crime and this makes it dangerous; everyone I deal with in the city tell me this. It is not uncommon for people to be robbed at gun point or kidnapped.
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I will say straight up that in over fifteen business visits there over the past three plus years, I am yet to feel threatened (touch wood). In saying this, I make a point of not putting myself in possible positions with the bulk of my time split between the hotel, office and with local work colleagues.

From a business visitor aspect, here’s two examples of differences between São Paulo and Australia’s largest cities:

1 Road Rage
Whilst the most common after market accessory for cars is bullet proof glass and any medium to high end car is fully bullet proof, combined with horrendous and chaotic traffic with weaving drivers (especially motorbikes), in all my visits to São Paulo road rage just isn’t part of the scene. Merging is just part of what they have to do to get around. Try merging into Punt Rd on any given weekday and you’ll probably see some road rage and almost without exception, just plain ignorance and arrogance that can certainly turn dangerous!
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2 Celebration Time
I often visit the bar and restaurant neighborhood of Vila Madelena in São Paulo with the Webmotors team which can see thousands of people in the dozens of establishments drinking in the streets from early afternoon through to late at night and I am yet to witness one bit of aggression despite drinking allowed in public, bottled beverages are common on the street and the usual bumping into randoms in large crowds that you see everywhere. Imagine in Australia if alcohol could be purchased from street vendors in bottles and you couldn’t help but run into crowds? There’s a reason alcohol is barred in public and bottles are barred in most bars here – we are a nation of cashed up bogans (generalisation I know but a somewhat harsh reality).
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The poor usually have nothing to lose so for this reason the danger is somewhat harsher than drunk, cashed up bogans king hitting someone during a big night out or getting upset because you had the nerve to merge into “their” lane.

We Australians could certainly learn a thing or two on these things from São Paulo and Brazil in general.


Leadership and People – Same, Same But Different


Whether it be in life, sport or business, I think recognising and appreciating that we are all different can give you an advantage over those that don’t.

I’m an avid people watcher; I’m fascinated by the way in which we are all different. I love sitting in a cafe or bar in a different country (as I’m usually on my own) and just watching people. What are they doing there? What are they thinking? Are they on a first or third date? What is their relationship? Married, business, selling to a client? What are they talking about?
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I used to describe coaching senior football clubs as “leading 50 blokes who all need to be treated by the same yet all differently”. This is no different to business. Different people have different drivers, different tolerances, different personalities, etc, etc.

Sounds logical doesn’t it? Why then do we get upset when it appears some people seem to treated differently to others?
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That’s more of a rhetorical question. I do not know the answer but I am sure we can all have our opinions. My opinion is simply that we are all different which is why some get treated differently and why most get upset at this. Confusing?

I believe the answer to managing this from both sides is with the leader. In the case of a football club, the coach must give as much time to players ranked 25-40 as they do to the handful of top players. It is just that the time is/should be spent differently.

The key is transparency. To make a general statement like “anyone who doesn’t train won’t be playing this week” is pretty stupid. Let’s get serious here.

Same in business. Should a leader spruik a culture, not actually live it themselves or worse, allow a few to not live it and expect all others to live it?
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I love the quote “the culture of any organisation is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate” (Gruenter and Whitaker).

Worse still, what about when it appears the leader(s) are more content to keep a few happy at the expense of many others?

It comes back to transparency and the recognition (or lack thereof) that we are all different, think differently and act differently. It is ok to treat everyone the same but different.


Endurance is More Important Than Truth


I saw a great quote at a hotel a few months back – “Endurance is more important than truth”

We were holding a senior leadership offsite meeting and a few of us looked at each other with puzzled looks on our faces. “What does this mean?”, holding the coaster with the quote on it. None of us realised that it was a great quote from the 1987 movie Barfly – “Anybody can be a non-drunk. It takes a special talent to be a drunk. It takes endurance. Endurance is more important than truth.”.

I reasoned at the time that the meaning of the quote was similar to “the winner gets to tell the story” like the truth will be told by those who are the most enduring (usually the winner).
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This is especially so in business where the winner gets to tell the story of how the company was started and the milestones that made it successful. They are the ones who endured all the ups and downs (more downs than ups early on usually); therefore their story will be considered the truth.

It is amazing how many people have laid claimed to have founded carsales.com.au or at the very least, claim they have been instrumental in the formation of the business – “two men said they’re Jesus, one of them must be wrong”. It makes me laugh because those who lay claim to it (apart from the actual founders of course) are always going to be found out because a) none of them were in the business very long and/or b) have not been involved in the business for a very long time (i.e. no endurance) – therefore their story cannot be considered the truth.
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The origins of Facebook have always been in dispute but at the end of the day who gets to write the truth? Mark Zuckerberg of course as he is the one who has endured the life of Facebook and is the winner.

It’s always interesting to hear Steve Wozniaki’s views on what propelled Apple but at the end of the day Steve Jobs endured plenty, along the way making plenty and it was only his story that became the truth behind the Apple story.
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Eddie McGuire talks about things on the radio that are in his lifetime but he couldn’t possibly remember all the facts he claim. This isn’t a criticism, in fact it is the opposite because he does so with absolute conviction and knowledge that you wouldn’t know. Nobody questions what Eddie says because he is the man fronting all before him (the enduring winner) and therefore what he says must be the truth. I get a small kick out of finding things he says that are not quite right but maybe that says more about me than him…….

Endurance is more important than truth – What a great quote and a great life/business lesson.