Murray Kidd and Ryan Hughes, the co-founders of RMA Motors, are spearheading a radical change in the way the used car industry in the region operates and serves its customers.
You can learn so much about people by observing how they treat others. You can learn even more about them by how others talk about them.
One of the business owners I had met through the magazine had his newly purchased car delivered to him while I was in his office, interviewing him.
The extremely striking and unusual thing about this was that, aside from a quick mention of the make and model of the car, his enthusiastic talk was focused solely on the used car start-up guys from whom he purchased the car.
“There are these two guys and the way they do things is brilliant - you should interview them for your magazine, Kay. Nobody does things the way do… and they way they go about their business…it’s about time someone shook things up.”
He continued talking in these glowing terms about how he was dreading buying a car, but “struck lucky” buying from “these two guys.” For at least 20 minutes of his interview, he talked about “those two guys” who had sold the car to him - not about the car itself.
I don’t recall ever hearing anyone talking so highly about the seller of a car like this, so this conversation stayed on my mind - particularly the references to “the way they do it,” i.e. their approach to selling used cars.
“The two guys” transpired to be the co-founders of RMA Motors Dubai, Ryan Hughes and Murray Kidd.
I googled them and clicked on their Facebook page first and scrolled through the comments left by their customers. And I have to say these comments were highly impressive - almost 6,000 ‘likes,’ with every comment I saw giving a 5-star rating.
For a start-up used car business that has been established for just six months - involving a purchase that is highly personal and has a reputation for being stressful - all the indicators were there that something outstanding was being achieved in a sector that has something of a notorious reputation.
The following is reproduced from just the first few Facebook comments, in their chronological order [SIC]:
“RMA - Ryan and Murray- you are simply the best in the market, you provide best cars and an immaculate service where you truly offer it from your heart. Will always deal with you and will highly recommend you!”
“Ryan and Murray were amazing right from the word go…cannot recommend them highly enough and if I could give them more than 5 stars I would!!”
“It was an absolute pleasure buying my car from RMA Motors, Murray and Ryan are two quality lads who went out of their way to help wherever they could, I ended up buying a better car than I could have hoped for. Any cars I purchase in the future will certainly be from RMA Motors. Cheers lads.”
“Great service, a clean car in all respects and trustworthy advice from Murray at RMA. Wouldn’t hesitate to do business with these guys again.”
“Simply the best! Murray and Ryan really know their cars.”
“Passion shines through with these lads! Can’t buy that!”
“I think they are simply the best ;)”
There is a clue in the repeated references to “Ryan and Murray” that there is a real human aspect to their dealings with customers, but who are Ryan and Murray?
They were both born in a small town in Scotland - the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours and if one of the elderly members is not seen in the local supermarket buying their fresh bread that morning, someone sends their kid to their house to see if they are okay. The kind of town where, even if you do not know someone directly, you will generally know their brother, sister, aunt or neighbour.
The kind of community where, if you do something naughty as a kid out playing, word of your misdemeanour will reach your parents before you get home. And there, the parental business of teaching your children right from wrong will undoubtedly play out, with these life lessons also including the core values of honesty, working hard and treating people nicely.
Growing up as a child, Ryan’s older brother was crazy about cars and this was a huge influence in a career in the motor trade that still makes Ryan to this day the only double award-winning mechanic for Rolls Royce BMW.
After working in car mechanics directly with BMW’s German headquarters, Ryan came to Dubai, took charge of the mechanics team for Rolls Royce and is as passionate a car enthusiast as you will ever meet.
“You just wouldn’t want to try and sell me a used car. If there is any fault, or any hint of a problem coming down the line, with any car, I will find it” he says. Charged with the responsibility to examine and evaluate the cars they purchase for their RMA customers, he has a reassuring level of expertise and attention to every mechanical detail of their cars.
With an accomplished background in the oil and gas industry, working in many different countries, Murray Kidd played a large part in setting up his wife’s salon business in Abu Dhabi, which included producing a detailed market analysis study, business plan and the financials.
He was also involved in every detail of the registration process, licensing and premises logistics, as well as evaluating and setting up the accounting systems, supplier selection, promotion, social media marketing and recruitment process.
Although both co-founders of RMA handle the administration of the business, Murray’s meticulous record keeping reveals that 94% of all potential customers that walk into their office have purchased a car from them.
The records also show that, from the day that a car is purchased for sale and is inspected and signed off by Ryan as being mechanically fit, and to ensure it justifies is long warranty period, it takes an average of just 3-4 days to sell a car. The sheer volume of overwhelmingly positive customer feedback on Facebook speaks for itself.
During the photoshoot for this article, we stopped to show “the two guys” how one of the pictures looked - a happy shot of them both sharing a joke about being photographed. “Ah, your mother would love that one,” commented Murray to Ryan, to which he replied: “So would yours.”
And yes, their mothers would be proud. The picture shows two guys, working in their office, six-months into a start-up that has totally ‘reinvented the wheel’ in terms of re-defining the customer experience and happiness levels of buying used cars. Which in itself, is simply a new way of buying cars. Given the phenomenal progress they have made in just this short time frame, the indicators are that RMA themselves are the drivers of an industry disruption that puts the customer first.
So what is the secret of thier success? A radical step is their insistence that they simply do not need a showroom to connect with customers. When asked: ‘what problem did you hope to solve when setting up in an already crowded market?’ Ryan answers: “Laziness. What’s so wrong about being nice to people and giving them a clean, sound car, and making sure they’re happy?”
Social media-based marketing
RMA Motors Dubai do not operate to the traditional ‘car showroom, tyre-kicking’ model, instead connecting with their customers exclusively via social media - a revolutionary sales strategy for used cars that delivers a 94% conversion rate to customers.
Differentiators in the RMA Model
“We only sell cars that are 1-2 years old. We inspect every one and we only deal with clean cars. Man, I really love working with cars!”
“I hope I don’t get into trouble for admitting this, but I think that in general terms, a smaller percentage of women tend to be versed in the mechanics and technical aspects of cars, compared to the percentage of men. We feel that this often makes women very vulnerable when buying a used car.
Maybe we’re just being old-fashioned, but we feel that absolute reliability is a must for women - and of course all of our customers - regardless of where they buy their cars. I’m glad that we are in the market to make sure that we sell cars that we are confident won’t break down on a late night drive home,” says Ryan.
Murray adds: “A lot of people - never our customers, funnily enough - ask us how we run a used car business with no showroom. To us it is really obvious, especially when you realise that a showroom doesn’t show the customer much, apart from the exterior of a well polished car.
When customers come to our office, they already know every detail about the car they want.
We film each individual car and provide a 360-degree video, complete with commentary, on every aspect of the interior, exterior and inside of the car. Online, we target only the areas and customer profiles that are most likely to buy each individual vehicle, and the phone usually rings within minutes. Ryan’s certifications on the office wall are clearly displayed and we enjoy putting people at ease when they walk into the office.
Precision is a big part of what we do, and as far as I am aware, there is no other company selling used cars as we do.”
So what is next for Ryan and Murray?
“We want to buy more cars, so we can sell more cars. We have a proven business model and are talking to investors about increasing the volume of business we do. Ideally, we would love to work with someone who is absolutely passionate about cars too.