Redefining the traditional business model: How leading the industry in change has lead this start-up to success
Mon 21 March 2016 - 2:39 pmCashflow | Finance | Funding | Investment | Growing | Industry | Industry Finance | Raising capital | Small Business | Startup | Tips | Advice | Transport | Logistics | Wealth Management
Mixing car finance & home loans isn’t something a traditional mortgage broker would consider. But I’m not your traditional mortgage broker. Off the back of a digital advertising & intelligent investment in technology, I’ve built a business that continues to grow exponentially. The Positive Group is now one of Australia’s fastest growing financial services companies.
Making your business dream a reality sometimes requires you to get creative. Establishing a stable mortgage broking business will typically take two years of hard work, with slow return on investment. But post-GFC, my father, an experienced banker, faced redundancy amidst tightening regulation across the entire finance industry. Changes in government policy meant starting a finance brokerage didn’t seem like a profitable idea.
Rather than be overwhelmed by the now stricter ASIC requirements, in 2009 my father and I formed a partnership to back the mortgage business with asset finance at our core. The benefits of doing this were immediately clear. In Australia people change cars every 2-5 years, and it’s a quick transactional changeover. Using the income from asset finance, we’d have cashflow to sustain business and continue to provide mortgage services throughout our personal referral networks. This provided a sustainable and scalable business model, proven by exponential business growth.
To drive leads to the Positive car loans arm of the business, I focused on digital marketing – it’s flexible and allowed me to continually improve as we went. We started with a $1000 Google AdWords campaign with a focus on impaired credit loans – our research showed that consumers found it difficult to source finance with an impaired credit rating. The results were astounding – within a few days we had more leads than we could handle. The first 12 months meant some seriously hard work for myself and my Dad.
The only break I took in the first years was my weekly football game. My Dad would come out to watch, with the phone in one hand to take the calls that kept coming in. Our business has been built on the premise of the best customer service, and this means being there when clients call.
The strategy behind this was to build capital through the asset finance business, and use it to extend the company to provide a comprehensive finance solution for Australians. Now when a client comes to Positive Lending Solutions and they apply for car finance, we can provide a range of other services that assist in making access to finance simple. We provide free advice on a range of finance solutions, including refinancing their existing home loan, to ensure that they have the information to make the most of their finances with competitive repayments and loan products.
The Positive Group now provide holistic finance solutions across car finance, commercial and personal loans, home loans and life insurance products. The key to success has been consistently excellent customer service.
By listening to the market using various digital tools, we’ve responded to the public, creating a new website removing visitor pain points, and providing free tools and resources, such as a loan calculator, and our widely attended First Home Buyers Seminar. This responsiveness to the market and the open sharing of industry information and expertise has built the trust relationships with our clients that ensures they’ll think of us for their finance needs, and recommend us to their friends and family.
The hard work has been rewarding. After 7 years, our company now has 3 branches, providing services across Car and Asset Finance, Wealth Management and Home Loans. The growth of the business has lead in some unanticipated directions: such as the establishment of ‘Used Cars Adelaide’. It became clear that to retain clients through to settlement it’d be useful if we could find the car they need once we’d arranged a pre-approved loan.
Going the extra mile to save customers the work of hunting through car yards and private sales has led to huge referral business. We offer this as an additional complimentary service with a car loan, sourcing cars for personal use and business from all over Australia, and ensuring all the checks and delivery. In 2016 we will establish a warehouse of 30 or so commonly purchased models, further reducing the turnaround time between loan approval and a happy customer getting the keys to their car.
The Positive Group has grown to 47 staff, with offices in Hobart and Melbourne, as well as the head office in Adelaide. Positive Home Loans now employ two full time mortgage brokers, in addition to my father and myself, and business is growing fast. Creating a business model where clients can access finance for their needs throughout all life’s changes, with a focus is 100% on meeting and exceeding our customer’s expectations, has definitely been a success.
About The Author
Tom Caesar is the Managing Director of The Positive Group, a group of companies offering comprehensive financial services to clients Australia wide. The Positive Group consists of businesses focused obtain car loans & asset finance, mortgages, insurance & wealth management. Tom’s entrepreneurial approach to business has seen the group grow into one of the lead providers of financial services Australia wide. Tom regularly contributes articles on car finance, insurance, technology and business growth, drawing on his experience of starting his own company in 2009.