Perspectives from ISB

Here is a question – especially for self-made businessmen and women. A man spends a decade building a business to a £10million plus turnover and then goes on holiday leaving in charge a management team with an average age less than 21.

He is away two weeks. How many times does he call to the business to see how things are going, every hour you might think? In the case of Rob Ayland, chief executive of Completely Motoring, the answer is not a lot.

“I think we had 16 nights away and I spoke to them about three times,” said Mr Ayland, trying to remember whether he had called or not while enjoying a relaxing time with his wife, Melanie, on a sickeningly sunny Caribbean island.

“I was calling them as a father,” he added.

In charge back at home were his sons, George, 25, James, 20 and Charles, 18.

He is not pretending he is a cool as a cucumber either, or that other people unable to leave their businesses without a significant rise in blood pressure are over-reacting. True, there is a lot of pride in being able to place his trust in his sons and knowing they, and the rest of the staff, are perfectly able to run the business as usual – and then there is facing up to the fact you might not be indispensable any longer.

“They ran the business – and had two of the best weeks of the year. And October is usually a quieter time for us!” he added, with a wry smile and raised eyebrow.

Completely Motoring’s achievements as a family business have not gone unnoticed. It walked away with the Gloucestershire Business Awards 2017 Family Business of the Year Award in October.

Re-wind pre-Completely Motoring he held a number of senior positions with the biggest car dealers in the county. Life was good. And then he was laid off. “It was Christmas 2008, the start of the biggest recession in living memory. I had just set up the Mitsubishi garage next door to here. It was frightening. One minute you are in this corporate world with a steady salary, then you’re not.”

He decided if there was one thing he knew about it was cars and selling them. “The banks at the time would not finance a small business. So we self-financed. I sold all my toys – my Ferrari, motorbikes – it all had to go,” he said.

Reputation, worth its weight in gold in the used car market, underscored by the strong family connections and long-term plans have been vital.

Source: Merrell, Andrew., November 15, 2017,