Two days ago I stepped over an article spread along the alumni network of the Boston Consulting Group. Unfortunately it looks like it is not accessible from outside so I’m not able to link to it here. It is basically about 5 follow colleagues who have become entrepreneurs and share their story in kind of an interview structure, answering 4 simple questions. The title is “Dreams, Passion, and Working Without a Net”.
This article inspired me to answer these questions myself. I thought it is a great idea because of a) it will help me to realign with what is important for my venture, b) it will give others another perspective to look at my venture, besides all the presentations, company brochures and business plans I provide, and last but not least c) it will hopefully inspire others to use these questions and write their own story, their own experiences and share their insights and inspire us. This is a call for action. Please share your story. I’m interested in it.
The Elevator Pitch
Welcome to MapleTree CarWash (www.mapletree-carwash.com) the Home of Clean Cars and Happy People. We don’t have an elevator pitch; there are no elevators in a professional car wash. What we have is a car wash tunnel where the cars a cleaned and receive the shine. So here is out Tunnel Pitch:
MapleTree CarWash is about changing the game in a 30+ year old industry: Car Wash. Automatic car wash started in Germany more than 30 years ago. At that point in time there was a clear technology advantage. Those who had the technology to produce clean cars in good quality and short time clearly differentiated from those who lacked the technology. In those times the former players all ran their own equipment manufacturing. These times have changed; already 20 years ago everybody was able to source high end equipment from various suppliers.
There is only one thing to do in order to make a difference: Bring back the human side of the business. In the end it is a service from humans for humans, for our guests – the drivers and passengers in the car. MapleTree CarWash created the CarWash 2.0 concept which consists of three elements: Smart Layout, Self-Learning Wash-Processes and Agile Operations. This will create immediate advantages for our guests and secure our leading position.
MapleTree CarWash is setting up a 100% service oriented organization providing a state-of-the art car wash service. While doing this creating a recognized brand and consolidating the market following a buy-and-build strategy. Last but not least, having fun washing cars.
I love to interact with people, humans. Interacting in teams, listening, chatting inspires me and inspiration drives my life. As – by the way – life is always a give and take, this is the reason to give something back and hope to inspire the one or the other reader. Back to the original path: It took quite some time for me to realize that the human interaction is the most important thing for me. I’m glad that I found this missing link.
In car wash you have the ultimate chance for that. You have interaction with your team, a diverse team of highly educated – partly MBA type – in your central service functions and you have normal people – those who bring the truth of life to the table – in all your locations. That’s what ensures great and inspiring discussions. And there are numerous guest interactions. You can have more than 1,000 a day. You only have a short timeframe to interact with your guests, but you can use these 20 seconds to make a difference.
The BCG Factor
How to make a difference. For sure there are a lot of things I learned at BCG that helped me in my professional as well as my private life. Rather than counting a long list of more abstract things, you probably all heard before; there is one incidence I’d like to share.
I remember a situation during the Senior Consultant Training. Even though it is already 8 years ago, maybe more, it is so present to me that it could have been yesterday. The challenge was the following. While presenting some standard stuff – consider any of your management presentations from daily business usually not thrilling – you should generate a personal reaction from somebody in the audience. I choose an Italian colleague, she really was stressed from her previous client work and worrying about her child at home, so everything but relaxed and happy. My challenge was this: Make her smile! It took me three trials and I was exhausted, but I made her smile. That was a great moment.
During my time in car wash – I worked for one of the top players in Germany and was responsible to run 25+ conveyor car washes – this experience from Senior Consultant Training inspired me to conduct an experiment: When working at the prep gun, how long do you have to smile to the driver before she or he has no other chance to smile back? It doesn’t take long. And the interesting thing is they still have the smile when leaving the tunnel and that makes them feel good.
Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs
This one goes out to all entrepreneurs. Despite the original title …Without a Net, if you feel you would need a net, it is probably not the right business idea you’re following. If it is your vision, than it feels perfectly right, there is no question about it. You see and feel the beauty of your idea. It doesn’t feel wrong, so it can’t go wrong.
With my current vision this holds 100%. It matches perfectly, sometimes I think this vision waited for me, it waited until I was prepared to see it and to understand the beauty of it. Everything matches perfectly together like a huge every small piece fits into it and builds a huge beautiful picture. Somehow all the different jobs I did before seem to make sense and culminate into this vision. This is the one thing that makes me hold on to my idea, my vision, because it feels so right. In the end even if everything else fails and all the money that we have put into it will be gone, there is one major experience that I made: I know what a vision – a real vision – looks like.
You could sum up all of the above into one word: passion. But this is to small it doesn’t appreciate all the feelings and emotions everything that goes hand in hand. Yes, I’m passionate about car washing. And you should be passionate about your business.
If you are, then everything you do in order to reach your vision makes sense. You get the feeling you can fly. Why should you need a net if you can fly?
(Originally posted on March 2nd, 20016)
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