Siblings, Paul and Michael Higgins, have together banked years of experience in the motoring and finance industry. They understand exactly why car salesmen are consistently ranked as Australia’s least trusted professionals – a position they’ve held for over 30 years.
“There is a reason used-car sales people have a bad reputation, because customers often have a poor experience and feel very vulnerable when negotiating with a dealer,” says Michael Higgins.
And with that, just like Uber did with the taxi industry, they saw a market ripe for disruption with their just-launched start-up, HelloCars.
So it’s an online platform for used car sales, but what makes it different from the many others in this space? Paul says HelloCars is a true online retailer – not just online classifieds. And the model works like this: HelloCars agrees to buy a customer’s car following an online assessment, and if the vehicle isn’t sold within 30 days, they’ll pay out the agreed price. And for the buyer? Well – they throw in a few of the finishing touches, usually associated with gleaming showrooms and pinstripe suits: a seven-day money-back guarantee, a warranty and even delivery.
As they embark on their venture with no way of knowing yet how far they’ll go, here’s what Paul has to say about their experience joining the party of industry disruptors:
What do you think makes an industry disruptor successful?
“Changing some of the fundamental ways people interact with business can be challenging, but your guide should be looking at business through a customer’s lens. So I would say: persistence, energy and an eagerness to learn.”
Do you have any role models you look towards for inspiration?
“Our dad has always been an incredible inspiration to us both as a warm person with values of fairness and respect, as well as a successful businessman with tenacity and ingenuity. Richard Branson’s biography was one of the first I read and he continues to inspire with his enthusiasm and endless energy to innovate.”
How do you know when a market is ripe for disruption?
“For me it all comes down to customer experience. Where customers have significant frustrations or overall negative experience is a good starting point for identifying an opportunity for disruption. Of course, industries that have been slow to evolve or have been complacent are also a target area.”
And what about your experience going into business as brothers?
“We are a close family and Michael and I have always had an excellent bond. Partnering with someone you can trust and who really gets you is an amazing advantage. We make sure that we balance the seriousness and challenges that come with business with regular family social catch-ups where we can let our hair down and have a good laugh.”