Belfast Telegraph

Start Up Can: Mark Maguire

Mark Maguire, Managing director of Courtesy Vehicles Solutions

What is your business?

Courtesy Vehicle Solutions is a leading vehicle hire and leasing agency which offers short and long-term hire including cars, commercial vehicles and coaches. I manage the business day-to-day.

What projects are you involved in at present?

Our primary focus is on redesigning the website and raising our online market profile by improving our rankings on the major search engines. We are also expanding our coach hire and vehicle leasing services.

What are your greatest challenges?

Raising awareness of our services and securing funding to facilitate growth.

How will you develop the company?

We recently relocated to the centre of Belfast making us more accessible to both business and tourist customers. We are also intent on developing an innovative claims management service to assist anyone involved in a motor accident.

How do you market your business?

Our online presence is vital. We advertise through Discover Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and make good use of free online advertising listings. We directly market our services through local hotels, guesthouses and motor garages. Word-of-mouth referrals from customers has also played a major part in our business growth.

Has the recession been a catalyst for doing things better?

Yes. We are a business that adapts our services to meet the needs of customers, particularly in the current climate. We ensure that our panel of suppliers shares our goals and meets our criteria for providing excellent customer service and quality vehicles at all times.

Has cashflow been an issue?

We usually request advance payments, but are as flexible as possible with payment options for clients. We implemented a new accounting system in 2010 which has improved account-handling procedures.

Have you adjusted pricing in the downturn?

Not really. Our service has always been very keenly priced and our customers benefit from the same competitive rates all year round.

What innovations are you currently engaged in?

We have added a number of additional services over the past 12 months and are always on the lookout for new partners and services that will add value to the 'Courtesy' brand. The claims-management service will be an additional major benefit for customers.

Are you taking action to improve energy efficiency?

Since moving the business into Belfast, I now use public transport every day rather than the car. Business-wise, our vehicles are sourced from modern fleets which are more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly.

How do you keep yourself and your staff motivated?

Getting positive feedback from customers is always a great motivator and knowing that we can provide a valuable service to people and businesses will always drive us to do more.

Which entrepreneur do you most admire?

Lord Diljit Rana. Northern Ireland needs more people like him who are prepared to persevere through difficult times.