Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Leon Saliba, managing director of Spares Box.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Spares Box was created to make online shopping for automotive parts more convenient and easier for every car owner. In just a few clicks, customers simply purchase the necessary parts, install it themselves or have it delivered straight to their mechanic for installation. Our aim is to empower customers with the knowledge of how much parts should really cost for their car and help them save money. On average, customers will save over 30% when buying parts via the Spares Box website compared to buying parts direct from the dealership.
Spares Box currently stocks more than 100,000 parts from leading brands for 80 different vehicle makes from everyday cars, utes, 4WDs, hot rods and race cars.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We continue to work closely with venture capital firm Carthona Capital, who initially invested in Spares Box, to help grow the business. The funding allowed us to invest heavily in IT, systems and people, building a solid foundation to scale.
We also launched across multiple e-commerce channels, including eBay, to help drive customer growth. Online trading sites, such as eBay, provide us the opportunity to capitalise on the pre-existing market of customers who are familiar with purchasing auto parts online. By operating across multiple channels, we were able to test our business concept, improve our systems, build supplier relationships and scale quickly.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
It starts and ends with our website. We have made it as simple to use as possible and you can find the right part for your car in just a few clicks. We also want customers to see us as a place to come and learn more about their car. Our blog is constantly being updated with helpful hints and tips for car owners as well as a dedicated ‘how to’ section for those who prefer to be more hands on. We see this as an important part of our business as we want customers to find useful auto advice that’s relevant to them.
We also pride ourselves on our customer service and have a dedicated local team that are able to assist with any car related queries. For instance, we had a customer call up about a new clutch and flywheel for a 508 Peugeot. The dealership quoted $4,800 for the parts (including labour), she ended up buying the exact same part direct from Spares Box for only $1,747. The mechanic fitted the part for just over $1,000 resulting in a $2,000 saving! We also had a customer inquire about a new water pump for her Honda Accord. They were originally quoted $238 for the pump, which they found listed for $99.95 on Spares Box, saving them over $130.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Balancing growth between sales, technology and the supply chain so we can always deliver on customer expectations across such a wide product range. We are constantly scaling our business systems and processes to customer orders and web traffic. This allows us to ensure we’re offering our customers the best online experience and website interface as possible.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
In the early days of the business, we implemented an app called Slack. It eliminates unnecessary emails (that I would never read anyway) while syncing data across all platforms. This allowed us to collaborate spontaneously amongst the team and host emails, and files, and track everything as a group very easily.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
I’ll always remember the philosophy we had at Toyota: Genchi Genbutsu, which was understand the root of the problem by seeing it firsthand. I’ve instilled this way of thinking at Spares Box, as I really believe that by participating in each area of the business we are able to make better decisions.
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