Martin Dowling’s key business tips resonate with Realise Business audience

There is no doubt that stories of business success motivate and inspire other entrepreneurs.  But, the real gems of business wisdom lie in the history behind the person and the business.

At our March Breakfast with an Entrepreneur event, guest speaker Martin Dowling provided the audience with an honest and sometimes raw insight into the growth of his Star Car Wash business, that has gone from a start-up to a successful organisation with a footprint of more than 60 sites across Australia, turning over $36 million a year.

Martin’s business journey really began at the tender age of 21 when he was required to step up and manage an office product business following his employer’s sudden illness. While the organisation had an annual turnover of $2 million, Martin was soon to discover that it was broke and that he needed to come up with an urgent strategy to save the business.

Whilst the pressure would have been immense, he is a firm believer that it was the best learning experience he ever had as he ‘doubled down and renegotiated terms which gave him and the business breathing space’.

Maybe it was this early experience that lead Martin to remind the breakfast audience that “you never start a business without knowing where you’re going with it in terms of how you’ll create money and value”. He is also a strong believer in strategising and determining how you are going to build your business without borrowing money.

Martin also believes that you need to have strong relationships with four key people: your banker, lawyer, accountant, and doctor; and you should know them well enough that you can pick up a conversation with them where you last left off.

Whilst this successful entrepreneur said there was a time when he felt like quitting, he believes he just didn’t have a choice because he had reached a point where if he walked away the business at that time would have been worthless. The tipping point for him came when he was $5 million in debt and had run out of equity.

Tracking the numbers and setting up systems to monitor a growing number of sites proved crucial in getting the business back on track and keeping it there. Martin believes that “front log numbers are crucial and they need to be measured and reported as push data”.

In an interesting insight, Martin revealed that Star Car Wash didn’t employ anybody other than admin staff.  He found the best model for his business was to employ a manager at each site who took 50% of the revenue, increasing their buy in to make the site a success. “I looked after the person who looked after the staff,” Martin said.

Martin was also open about the impulsive decisions that he made in the business as well as the impact that building the business had on his personal life including his subsequent Bipolar diagnosis.

Key business tips that the audience took away with them include:

  • It’s really important to keep track of the numbers in your business
  • Never set a business up that relies on you. It should rely on the people who are in business working with you, otherwise it’s just too overwhelming
  • As the business grows you need to compartmentalise your life. For your mental health you need to ensure you take a step back.
  • Don’t try and do everything because you will lose focus on what you actually want to
  • Develop a trusted network of business advisors that you can rely on as a sounding board
  • Build a business that is scalable

The next Breakfast with an Entrepreneur will be held during May.

Share the Post:

Too Much Digital and Not Enough Wins in Your Business?

Find the Right Digital Solution for Your Business

Related Posts

Martin Rogers
Chief Executive Officer

Martin holds an extensive background and certification in Business, Marketing, and Strategy with over 20 years’ experience specialising in Strategic Thinking, Business Growth, Leadership and Team Development, across a number of industries. Martin utilises a collaborative leadership style and has a thirst for problem solving, understanding the latest trends and identifying the uniqueness that gives businesses their edge.

Mark McCrea
Chief Operations Officer

Mark McCrae stands out as a highly efficient Operations professional, known for his strategic oversight and management prowess within the corporate landscape. With years of experience under his belt, Mark has become synonymous with operational excellence, streamlining processes to enhance productivity and drive sustainable growth. Mark's forward-thinking approach and unwavering commitment to excellence have solidified his reputation as a cornerstone of operational success.

Razz Khan
Chief Marketing Officer

With over a decade of experience, Razz has a proven track record of driving growth and enhancing the digital footprint of various brands across multiple industries. His expertise spans across SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media strategies, and analytics. Razz is known for his innovative approaches to solving complex marketing challenges. Razz's passion for digital marketing, combined with his commitment to client success, makes him a valuable asset to any team looking to elevate their digital presence..

Greg Kay
Chief Commercial Officer

Greg has more than 25 years success in working with many for the development and implementation of growth strategies for businesses by building strong relationships through effective partnerships. Greg constantly strives for opportunities to have a positive influence in the personal and business lives of the people he works with.

Chris Wilborn
Contracts Manager And Advisor

Chris is a results-driven leader with a wealth of knowledge derived from his more than two decades in the NGO, corporate and government sectors. As a current business owner, from his prior work as a growth-minded CEO and a background working with disability organisations, Chris is deeply passionate about the NDIS, small business community and the central role they play in the fabric of our society.

Lindsay Munns

As a long term member of the Realise Business Board, Lindsay has temporarily stepped into this key role to facilitate the changeover of Chief Executive as part of our CEO succession strategy. Additionally he is busy leading the roll out of a major new Government contract that will take Realise Business up to the next level of its vital place in the NSW Small Business Advisory scene.

Marisa Barresi
Office / Client Coordinator
- Business Connect

Shanice Bangar
Events / Client Coordinator - Digital Solutions

Mona Bucog
Event Coordinator

Over the past 12 years, Mona has honed her skills in customer service, specializing in managing and addressing a wide range of customer needs. She’s dedicated to providing exceptional service and ensuring customer satisfaction. Her experiences have helped her develop skills that assist organizations in achieving their goals. Her ultimate aim is to help them focus on what they love, and she will take care of the rest!

Maricor Alzola
Marketing Coordinator