How CarProof balances growth with management excellence
LONDON, ON, Feb. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - In 2000, Paul Antony, a third-generation car dealer, had an idea for a new business venture. Twelve years later, that company, CarProof Vehicle History Reports, is the winner of three prestigious business awards - two for technology and staggering expansion, and another celebrating best management practices - and has experienced a growth of 1,017 per cent over the past five years.
CarProof, based in London, Ont., is Canada's leading provider of comprehensive vehicle history reports to consumers, car dealers, auctions, provincial governments and vehicle manufacturers, and has recently been named as a 2011 winner of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies program. The award is recognition for CarProof's business excellence and dedication to leading business practices. This honour comes close on the heels of two other big wins for the company. CarProof was also given Deloitte's 2011 Technology Fast 500TM and Fast 50™ Awards, making the company one of a select few to receive all three awards in the same year. This achievement is a reflection of the balanced technological and managerial growth the company is experiencing - something which for many companies is a very elusive balance to accomplish.
CarProof's beginnings date back to a need for transparency and communication in the used car business. In 2000, Antony, CarProof's CEO and president, was involved with importing and exporting vehicles through his car dealership in Ingersoll, Ont. The idea for the company was born when liens were discovered on a group of out-of-province vehicles after they were sold. At that time, no service existed for a cross-Canada lien search. The founders felt there had to be a better way to avoid these costly and difficult situations. They saw an opportunity to create a product that would revolutionize the used car industry by providing Canadians with the ability to buy and sell cars with full transparency, confidence and peace of mind.
CarProof's early years were dedicated to making connections, obtaining data, and getting the business name out to dealers and the vehicle industry in Canada. By 2006, the company was ready to take on new employees as CarProof doubled its roster and created an inside sales team. Two years later, CarProof earned the trust of national auctions across the country as well as Canadian car manufacturing companies, becoming the go-to source for vehicle history reports in Canada. After witnessing a recent increase of 1,017 per cent growth in sales, CarProof continues to work on expanding its market share by introducing new products, reaching out to the retail market and providing more resources and assistance to the dealer sector.
This fast growth has made the implementation of new management practices and processes crucial in order to build on the company's early achievements and successes. It's unusual to hear that a rapidly growing company with strong entrepreneurial roots is also excelling in terms of its management practices and processes. Achieving lightning fast growth typically requires the ability to make fast business decisions, but managing that growth and implementing those decisions requires structure; these are elements which are often at odds in the business world.
CarProof, however, has succeeded in finding balance and is honoured to have this acknowledged by recent awards. For owners of companies that are growing to a point where they need more structure than they've had in their entrepreneurial beginnings, CarProof's Antony has tips. These strategies are part of what has helped CarProof successfully manage this transition, while maintaining what has made them successful from the beginning.
- Aim for perfection, but build in an ability to refine. Your success to date is likely in part because you've been nimble; you've been able to make and implement decisions quickly, with fewer processes and people. Now that there are likely more cooks in the kitchen, this process of perfecting things can become cumbersome. To help manage that, continue to strive for excellence, but for projects where it's appropriate, consider launching when you're 99.9 per cent of the way there because you've built in abilities to optimize and adjust afterwards. This remaining 0.1 per cent can never be apparent to your customers of course, but often if you consider this iterative improvement process up front, you can find flexibility as well.
- Hire right, and then trust your people. When your team is small, and you're in the process of letting go of many of the responsibilities that you're used to shouldering, it's absolutely critical that the right people are in place. Be involved in the hiring process of everyone in the beginning, and as you grow beyond that, of all those at a management level. Never compromise on your people; hire no one but rock stars, because you need to focus on the strategic stuff now, and hand off aspects of decision-making to the ones you've selected.
- Focus on the goal. As you necessarily hand over some of the day-to-day elements to others in the company, and as additional processes, people and even locations are added, your people become bit by bit further removed from your vision simply because you're not as present to reiterate and share it continually. By establishing a clear goal (or mission statement, or vision, or core purpose) for them, it essentially keeps your vision present for them all the time, even when you're not necessarily there communicating it. Include this in your new employee training, post it prominently in the lobby, and give copies to everyone to keep at their desks.
- Communicate as much as possible. The more people know, the more engaged they are with your company. Share the information you can share often, and in a timely manner. Employee newsletters and quarterly town hall meetings are great ways to communicate what each department is working on. These are also opportunities to share the successes you and the company have experienced and open a dialogue to hear ideas.
- Be worthy of your people's trust. As entrepreneurs, we in some ways live for change because it is in shifting what's come to be expected, that we often find opportunities. Embracing and even initiating this change however, for many, can be uncomfortable. Regardless, it will be a constant (to a degree) in your company if you are committed to maintaining some of your entrepreneurial roots. As much as possible, build relationships of trust with your people (as a result of communicating with them, etc.) so that when these shifts occur, your employees react with excitement at the possibilities, rather than trepidation of the implications, because they believe in their leadership.
- Ask for help to figure out what you don't know that you don't know. There will come a time in your company when you ask yourself 'now what?' It might not be regarding ideas for which market to pursue next or what product ideas you could tackle as you likely have lots of those. But if there are areas like how to scale your human resources or how to structure your company to remain efficient, realize that there are people who can help you with these critical foundational items. Don't be afraid to hire a consultant who has that specialty to help you through both what you do know and what you don't know, so you in turn can focus on what you do best, and love most.
About CarProof Vehicle History Reports
CarProof, a London, Ont.-based company founded in 2000, is the leading provider of the most comprehensive used vehicle history report available in Canada. CarProof's fully bilingual vehicle history reports rely on accurate and live real-time data to provide consumers with a complete history of their vehicle including accident information, cross-Canada lien search information and full U.S. history. In addition to being named one of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies, CarProof was recently honoured with Deloitte's 2011 Technology Fast 500TM and Fast 50™ Awards. For more information about CarProof, visit www.carproof.com.
About Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies program
Established in 1993, the Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies is a national awards program, recognizing Canadian companies that have implemented world-class business practices and created value in innovative ways. Applications are reviewed by an independent judging panel that evaluates how companies address various business challenges, including new technologies, globalization, brand management, leadership, leveraging and developing core competencies, designing information systems, and hiring the right talent to facilitate growth. For further information, visit www.canadas50best.com.
For further information:
Alina Szober Morkin
Senior Marketing Manager
CarProof Vehicle History Reports
1.866.835.8612 ext. 3088