Meet the MD: Richard Laughton the CEO of easyCar

Meet the MD: Richard Laughton the CEO of easyCar

Launched in April 2000 by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, easyCar has grown into one of the UK's leading car rental brands. BQ caught up with CEO Richard Laughton to hear how the business is looking to continue growing and what he believes makes a great business leader.

What does your role involve?

I am the CEO of online car hire business easyCar and I run both easyCar Club, the UK’s leading peer-to-peer car rental brand, and the brokerage which aggregates standard car rental supply from hundreds of brands around the world.

 

What is it the company does?

easyCar has two main business lines: the online brokerage which has been in operation for more than ten years and easyCar Club, which lets car and van owners rent out their cars when they are not using them to make some additional income and gives people who only need a vehicle occasionally the opportunity to rent something local that’s more convenient and better priced.

 

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I initially started trading options at BZW (Barclays’ Investment Bank) but found that my job was too focused on market specifics. I didn’t want to do that for my whole career, so I moved into management consultancy with McKinsey to get a broader view.

Then, after a brief stint doing in-house venturing at a UK media owner, I went down the entrepreneurial path, launching a peer-to-peer wine trading business at the height of the web 1.0 boom. It was a bit early for that particular idea, but I caught the entrepreneurial bug and have been involved in launching and building a range of businesses from finance to big data to advisory ever since. I was approached to join easyCar about three years ago.

 

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Honesty is essential – people need to know where they stand and what’s required of them. Leading by example is key, because your actions set the tone for the team. If you want dedication from your team you have to show it yourself.

You also want to spend time nurturing the talent that you have - be patient and learn to delegate and your team will thrive. Finally, always have a strategic vision, a cool head under stress and a good dose of confidence.

 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

It’s exciting to be part of the sharing economy as the sector grows rapidly and gains mainstream recognition. But it’s also challenging to reconcile the demands of building a new, disruptive business line with maintaining a focus on the driver of profit. The demands of the two sides of the business sometimes conflict so there is a trade-off between growth and profitability.

 

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I really enjoy cooking, particularly for my children. Spending time with them is a great way of getting things back into perspective.

I also like to go to the gym to de-stress, and play the occasional game of bridge.

 

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A chef. I also wanted to be the Prime Minster. I’d like to think there’s still time for both, but I love what I’m doing now.

 

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

I get annoyed when people make the same mistake over and over again. Obviously no one is perfect but if it’s a recurring problem even after appropriate training then they’re just not right for the role.

 

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I am really excited about what’s to come. With more and more people realising how convenient and cost effective peer-to-peer rental services are, I expect we will be expanding and operating the easyCar Club across Europe. The established brokerage business is also growing well and we plan for this to treble in volume over the next five years.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

You can’t do everything. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have a tendency to forget this. As a business leader you need know when to delegate and utilise other people’s expertise. It’s important that you are comfortable hiring people with more knowledge than you, though that doesn’t mean you should stop challenging them. It is not your job to do everything, you just need to make sure that everything is being done to a high standard.