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Driving for Business Success: Kelvin Armstrong

Kelvin Armstrong started up in business 17 years ago when he established his automotive repair workshop in Avondale, West Auckland. Kelvin spent many years on the tools, as many self-employed people do, but the past four years have seen him move off the tools. His business now functions well without him and it is profitable... but that doesn't mean that Kelvin is putting his feet up any time soon.

Kelvin and his team are committed to excellence, which has been recognised by Westpac and MTA Awards in 2010 and recently acknowledged with winning the Distinction Award for Service Quality (Westpac Small Business Awards 2011). Far from putting his feet up, Kelvin purchased a second automotive repair workshop in April 2011. Since then, Kelvin has been working 50 to 70 hour weeks in the new workshop - but has only been in his original business a handful of times.

How has he managed to build a business that can function without him? "There are three main reasons why I've been able to build a business that works without me," says Kelvin. "First of all, the business has good systems and processes in place. That means that everyone knows what they need to do, and how to do it. Secondly, it's vital to have the right team on board for the journey. Everyone in my business needs to be engaged, motivated and enjoy what they do." So what's the third and final factor? Kelvin says: "Having good advisors around me has been vital. I don't have resources within my family that will help me grow my business, so I get external advice. I need someone who'll ask me the hard questions, who will push me, and who can teach me. And that's exactly what Jerome Jacobs at Rise Advisory has done for me."

Has it been easy for Kelvin to move off the tools? Kelvin admits that initially it was very strange for him to be in the office, rather than fixing a car in the workshop. "I had to remind myself several times that in the workshop I'm only worth $50 an hour, but in the office I can earn the business $150 an hour. I did have to get back on the tools a few months ago when I was short of staff... and I remembered how much I hated it!" laughs Kelvin.

So why is Kelvin so keen to open a second business? Kelvin explains that even though he's been in business for many years, it was only in the past four years that he started thinking and acting like a business owner. "It took me 17 years to build my first business; I wanted to see if I could grow another business more quickly - and more easily." Kelvin adds: "Mind you, building a business still isn't easy now, but it's an awful lot easier when you've got good processes in place."

Award Winning Kelvin's dedication to creating good systems and a great business hasn't gone unnoticed; in 2010 Kelvin Armstrong Auto Repairs won the 2010 Westpac Waitakere Business Excellence Award in Best Small Business; 2010 MTA Auckland Branch General Repairer Award West Auckland Area; and 2010 MTA Auckland Branch Supreme Judges Choice. Many entrepreneurs dream of owning a business that can function successfully without them. But how do you do that? Is it even possible? Meet Kelvin Armstrong, who’s achieved this dream once – and is now aiming to do it for a second time. His Own Advice

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  • Streamlining Systems
  • Awards Implementation