We had a chat with the Managing Director of Jomic Autos and this is what we found about the business. He’s humble, funny and intelligent. Also, today marks a year since they lost his brother and co-founder of Jomic Autos, Micheal Kiambi. If you need some wheels talk to Kelvin Mwenda and he will get you moving.
How did you come up with the name Jomic Autos?
We coined it from our names. John, Mike, and Kelvin. When we went to search for Jomik it was already taken so we just changed the last letter but the intonation remained. I find that it’s a really catchy name.
Did you always know you would do something related to cars?
When I was a small boy I loved playing with toy cars. At nine I knew most car brand names.I loved the Nissan Bluebird. Apart from that I loved fast cars, I still do. I am what you would call a car enthusiast. Performance vehicles give me so much joy. I love all cars but I lean towards performance cars more than any other.
When was it founded?
Jomic Autos has been around for about 4 years. That would be since the year 2012.It’s been largely a side hustle. We are just now trying to make it the main thing.
My cool uncle who lived in Namibia would import cars for himself and his friends from Japan.When my brother wanted to import a car we approached him. He gave us the sites he used to access cars for import. We searched the internet. Our only guide being our uncle but we kept looking. We came up with even more than he had given us.We eventually imported my brother’s cars for much cheaper than we would have bought it for here.It was a Subaru Impreza. My brother was also a car enthusiast.
After discovering how much we had saved we decided to tell our friends about it and we would help anyone who wanted to import a car.
Being car enthusiasts our thirst for knowledge on cars was activated and we kept surfing. We discovered a lot of sites that sell cars. Each has a different kind so you have to be specific with what you are looking for. When we started we did not think of it as a business. We helped our friends who in turn gave us a thank you token.
So we thought it would as well become a business. We would do it as a side business since we were doing other things. So we registered it under the names of my brother, our cool uncle and myself. That’s how Jomic was born. Everyone has a cool uncle, right? If not I am willing to share mine.
How do you run the operations at Jomic Auto?
I run the business by myself currently as my uncle has never really been in the business he just helped us start the business as a way to support ourselves. Then late last year my brother passed on so I have been running JOMIC AUTO on my own.He was very instrumental in making Jomic auto what it is today. After my brothers demise that’s when I knew most of my friends have my back.They recommend me to clients and recommend clients to me. This is largely from the trust we have built while importing for them.
What are the challenges you have encountered thus far?
Our business is based on orders. We are only in business when we have an order. No order no business. This means we lack the capital to import a cohort of cars and display them in a yard for sale. That would ensure anytime a client wants a car he gets it.
When you look at the Kenyan market most car purchasers use asset financing either through a bank, a Sacco or any other able financier. Most of these financiers need a logbook as collateral. So unless you have cash ready then it is difficult for us to help you guarantee your financier.
Also, most people lack the patience to wait for a month or so to get a car. It’s what I like calling new money problems. New money has a voice it wants to speak and not have a conversation. It wants to shout,have a kamukunji of sorts because it needs to be seen and heard. So anyone who gets cash wants a car that is ready to hit the road the following day. It’s difficult to convince someone to wait for a car for five to six weeks for a car. But those who do save a lot.
How do you ensure your clients are satisfied?
We deliver our on our promises. We work hard to ensure our clients get exactly what we promised. That has helped us build trust.
If you trust us with your money we will guarantee you a car of your choice. All you have to do is give us the specs of the kind of car you want. We will go searching and come up with various options and send you and you pick your choice. We only get a small commission out of your cash because we are not using our capital to import a car for you. We will work out the costs of all the logistics and you send us your money then you will sit pretty and wait for your car. We pay in two installments.
Also, KRA adjusts their tax rates upwards a lot of times.It feels like it’s on a whim on most occasions.When they adjust taxes upwards and a car is en route we have to go back to the client and tell them exactly what is happening and why the cost has gone up a little.
We work hard at maintaining trust with our clients and luck has been on our side because all our clients have been very receptive. Unlike a while ago when there were rogue clearing agents who would charge you insane amounts of money for clearing, now you can pay directly to KRA via the Commissioner of Customs Services. A client can just draw a cheque to the Commissioner of Customs Services and that helps clear their trust issues if they had any. It’s normal for a human being to question everything so that helps us a lot in reinforcing trust.
After the car arrives you have an option of picking your own car, have our driver pick it for you or even I drive down to Mombasa and pick it. If a client wants me to pick the car I will shift my schedule around to fit my client’s needs. That works mostly because we are not as busy as we would be if we had a car yard. When we get there we will work out a different formula.
Are you looking to make it a full flung business?
Yes, we are. When that happens we will try to put a low markup on each car so that we can attract customers. In business, if you get greedy you fail. Especially in the car business people always look to save an extra shilling.
When the car arrives we will incorporate all the receipts and send them to the client for transparency and accountability.And you will ride happily for the rest of your days. As I said earlier the one thing that has kept us going is trust and the need to provide the best to our customers. That should apply in every business and also in real life. Aim to give your best and you do not have to work too hard on the marketing front as your services already speak for themselves. Also, embrace change. It’s the only thing that is constant.