Meet the mechanic driving his business to new levels of success
After working in car repair shops for most of his life, including his dad’s business, Richard Ross branched out on his own four years ago to open Euro Garage Automotive in Tauranga, specialising in European cars.
At a glance
A couple of small business loans from Prospa helped Euro Garage Automotive:
- Upgrade equipment
- Cover working capital costs when needed
- Buy new specialised tools
Starting with grease-stained hands in his father’s shop, Richard was another mechanic with a passion for the roar of engines. But deep down, the spirit of an entrepreneur was revving up.
In 2019 he decided to open his own automotive service and repair business. “I’ve always wanted to run my own business,” he says. “Tauranga is a massively growing town and apart from the dealerships, there weren’t a lot of shops servicing local vehicles.”
Lifestyle was a big reason Richard wanted to be his own boss. “It’s about having the flexibility to spend time with my partner, go away for weekends, and play with race cars,” he says.
To this end, his company Euro Garage Automotive operates a four-day week, closing on Fridays. “I like doing things differently to the norm and wanted to get away from the stereotype of overworked mechanics,” he says.
Euro Garage Automotive – as the name suggests – specialises in European cars, something Richard developed a love of while travelling and working overseas. “They’re engineered better and are more robust,” he says.
Becoming an entrepreneur
Initially, the business was a one-man show, with Richard doing everything himself before he slowly hired a couple of staff members. He currently has an apprentice and another mechanic operating out of 150sqm premises. This has freed him up to take on more of a CEO role, where he works on the business. “I try and let my team do as much as they can within the shop, while I focus on growing our operations.”
Like any small business, Richard has faced challenges – including extensive lockdowns during the pandemic. At the moment, cost of living pressures have resulted in people booking fewer services and exploring cheaper options.
“Everybody’s quoting and competing,” he says. “I’m still competitive – I’m not the same as a chain store down the road, and I’m never going to be but I’m also not the same price as a dealer – I’m smack bang in the middle. You’ve got to charge what you’re worth to a degree, and the people that genuinely appreciate what you’re doing will keep coming back because they know you’ll take care of them.”
Prospa helps to fuel success
As a new business, Richard couldn’t turn to traditional lenders to help him access funding in times of need. “My bank, who I’ve been with for a long time, won’t touch businesses under five years old,” he says. “They won’t even look at your figures.”
After a Prospa ad caught his attention, he jumped on a call with a Prospa business lending specialist who helped him apply for a small business loan.
“I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was,” he says. “The funds were in my account within a day.”
Richard used small business loans from Prospa to upgrade existing equipment, buy more specialist tools, and cover general business costs. “There was one point during the lockdown when there was a big downturn in the industry and all my working capital disappeared. Prospa helped me keep the doors to my business open.”
Keeping it local
While Richard is keen to grow the business, it’s all about balance. “I don’t want to make millions of dollars,” he says. “I’ve never been that person. I want to be able to pay my mortgage, go on holiday, and have a race car.”
The automotive industry is cyclic and Euro Garage Automotive is currently on an upswing. Richard is about to add a third hoist and take over the premises next door. “It allows us to look after our customers better, but I don’t think I’ll get much bigger than three hoists.”
Over the years Richard has asked for help and he believes this is the key to his success. “I’ve seen in so many industries, including ours, where people are too afraid to ask for help, but getting someone else’s advice can help you improve your business. It’s how you learn.”
Meet the entrepreneur who rebuilt a struggling equipment hire business
Damian Wyatt has revamped equipment hire business Southbrook Hire, with the help of small business loans and a line of credit from Prospa.
How Buttercream grew from hobby to thriving business
When Alefiah Tohlani’s COVID hobby unexpectedly exploded into a full-time business she knew exactly where to turn for support.