Dublin Automotive Ltd

"Keeping it simple" the formula for business success

  • Dublin-Automotive

    Strong communications create trust and loyal relationships with clients for Dublin Automotive owners, the McDougall family (from left) Bruce, Jenny, Kate and Bob.

Bob McDougall has a simple philosophy when it comes to running a successful business. “Our books balance,” says Bob plainly. “We have never borrowed money and have never had an overdraft. We don’t have money worries because we spend money as we can afford to, and that approach has seen us right and made it very easy to run the business.”

In 1979, after returning from living overseas, Bob set up Dublin Automotive, and no, there isn’t an Irish connection; the company was named after its first premises in Wanganui’s Dublin Street. “I had always been involved in the motor trade, so when an opportunity came up to buy a business, I went for it,” says Bob. “A friend of my first business partner suggested we go to Markhams for our accounting services and we have been there ever since. It has been a very good business relationship.”

Apart from keeping the financial systems simple, Bob attributes the relationship of trust established with clients as another contributor to the business’s success. “We have many longstanding relationships with clients; some that span over three generations. We have a policy of communicating with clients before undertaking any work that might incur unexpected financial surprises, and this creates trust that builds loyalty.”

Working as a family, as another key success factor. In 1992, Bob’s son Bruce joined to learn the trade under his father’s supervision, and in 2004, the business moved to its new premises in Mathieson Street, where it has continued to provide a wide range of automotive mechanical services.

The McDougall family has featured strongly in the business from the start, with Bob’s wife Jenny, along with son Bruce’s wife Kate, also working at Dublin Automotive, sharing the administration, clerical and accounts work.

“Many people ask me how I can work with family 24 / 7, but it’s simple,” laughs Bob. “What happens at work stays at work. It’s straightforward and we don’t have any problems. Dublin has always been a family affair; our wives work in the office while we’re in the workshop. It’s a great setup. And working together also offers flexibility for both families. Bruce and Kate have young children, so the fact that Kate and Jenny can share the working day suits the demands of family life.”

Keeping it in the family also has financial benefits and not employing more staff was a conscious decision made by Bob. “Over the years we’ve had opportunities to bring staff on, but quite frankly, the sums didn’t make sense. Apart from increased overheads, it would mean carrying more stock, which also means financial outlay.”

Two years ago Bruce bought his father out of the business, a process they are still working through and one they have relied on Markhams Wanganui director Warwyck Dewe to help them navigate.

“I’ve worked with Warwyck when Markhams Wanganui was known as Glasgow and Meyer, so it’s been a very long association. And I’ve always had a personal relationship with Warwyck – he’s always had a lot of cars that need fixing! He takes my advice on cars and I take his advice on business and financial matters.”

Warwyck has been helping Bruce through the buyout transition. “In fact, Warwyck was the one who suggested the buyout should happen,” explains Bob. “He has been great. Over the years he’s always been on hand to offer advice and steer us in the right direction.”

Published Summer 2012.

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