Article to the Fortune Greece
February 2004. A 26-year-old enters a meeting with directors of a multinational company. He wears a fake wedding ring on his finger, to look bigger and more serious. His jacket “falls wide”. He has learned from a friend that the multinational, which is starting to operate in Greece in the cosmetics sector, is looking for a company to undertake the cleaning of its 40 stores in 10 cities across the country.
He tries to persuade them to work with him. When he realizes that the “game” is probably lost, he decides to take a risk: “look”, he tells them, “the job you want, we can do it better than anyone. In a short time, however, we will be too expensive to pay us. This is the offer and this is my card “.
The young man leaves the meeting with a heartbeat. Shortly afterwards he receives a positive answer. He stops his car on the side and starts crying, firstly out of joy, because he and his mother were saved and secondly, because he had no idea how to do the job: he had no people, no materials, no tools; he had nothing. The story of Dionysis Ammolochitis , founder of the Facility Management company “Manifest”, which started from scratch – essentially from that meeting in 2004, when all of Greece was waiting for the Athens Olympics – today reached its services in more than 1,100 buildings (75% of foreign multinationals), to employ almost 700 people, operating in eight countries abroad and generating a turnover of over 10 million euros at group level last year (compared to 7.5 million in 2017), with pre-tax profits of about 206,000 euros (against a loss of over 70,100 euros per year 2017).
The Manifest Services , which explains Dionysis Ammolochitis, aims to become the largest employer in its sector in Europe in the coming years, providing cleaning services, technical maintenance, renovations, catering and security, having entered into an industry with great potential internationally: the Facility Management, which is estimated to represent 3.5% of GDP in developed countries and “loosens” the hands of companies, which want to deal exclusively with their object, without having to take care of e.g. for the cleanliness or technical maintenance of their building.
“This is the way: take the risk”
In the context of an interview with Mr. Ammolochitis at APE-MPEwas asked about the story of that February and the role that audacity plays in entrepreneurship. “At that time I had nothing to lose, because είχα I had nothing. The truth is that (…) I pursue what I want to achieve. So, when I saw in the conversation that the whole thing was going to be lost, I took a risk and played it all, saying that we are the best company in the market and that in a little while they will not be able to pay us. I knew then, from books I read, but now I am sure from experience, that the interlocutor welcomes the one who has faith in himself and believes it and expresses it and it is true λοιπόν Riskara and through that I learned – and now I believe that “It’s one of the basic facts about a stomp pad and it’s still there, and it’s the right thing to do.”
But how did you smell the opportunity in the market? What gap did he see?
“I had the opportunity, trying to achieve my goal, because it was nothing accidental, to work as a salesman for a few months in a company that provided similar services (cleaning and rodenticide). So I saw a lot of things, I got in touch with the market and I tested its needs and what I realized then was that there was a gap: there were very few companies that provided services with high standards, but also very high prices. And beyond that there were too many companies with low prices, but also low standards. So there was no middle ground, a company that could provide services with multinational specifications and Greek market prices and there I found the gap and I entered and we had this rapid development “emphasizes Dionysis Ammolochitis, who did not hesitate to resign from his position as a salesman in an IT company, in order to work in a lower paid position in the field of cleaning, because something like that brought him closer to the goal. In fact, when he resigned from this second position, to do something of his own, he asked his mother to leave her job as a supervisor in a brochure distribution company, to start the business together. All this was done in four days. Friday to Monday. to start the business together. All this was done in four days. Friday to Monday. to start the business together. All this was done in four days. Friday to Monday.
“Seller, to get the ‘smell’!”
After all, is it important to have someone as a salesperson in the industry you want to be in before you decide to start your own business? “I think it is very important to have an idea of the job. I’m not saying you know it perfectly well, but you must have come in contact with what you want to do. “Especially if what you want to do is something very innovative, you have to get in touch with similar objects before you try, to get the smell,” he explains, while being asked if something counts more than the resume in hiring someone in Manifest, he answers: ” I do not see what a resume says, no matter how special it sounds, what I look at is the time spent in a company and the way the resume is set up, which shows me the style and aesthetics of the candidate. This is a first feeling, in which I count neither studies nor anything other than a resume. Considering that man as a character is a – I do not distinguish between professional and personal life – I like stable people, those who make a decision and try to implement it, no matter how many obstacles life sends them. “A person constantly changing company, changing jobs every nine months or a year and a half, does not show me stability.”
The “flaw” of the procedure freak can attract multinationals as customers
Multinationals and large customers – such as those served by Manifest, including Nestle, Cosco, Mercedes-Benz, COCA COLA, Siemens, Samsung, Athens International Airport, Intracom, Marina Floisvou – are usually demanding. So how does a company that has just been established win them over? “I have a lot of flaws and one of them is that I am a procedure freak, I put a lot of emphasis on the process. Any process that takes place in the Manifest is recorded in a document, certified by all those involved and ends up being a process for which comprehension exercises are created, in order for those newcomers to study and understand it, so that they can quickly enter the company culture. This element made me fall in love with the multinationals, because they work that way too. So, “Starting the company and working with that logic, I could only work with these companies – as I did,” he says. The interval of course required a lot of nights and a lot of work, but when the first multinational “unlocked” and entered the clientele of Manifest, then one big company brought the other and gradually the company became a leader in its industry.
“To build such contacts and attract such customers, you have to be very extroverted as a company, with very developed marketing and very good public relations. Obviously you have to have super sales skills, but also to take risks in your speech, that is, to raise the bar, but also to deliver what you say. Also, be in love with quality. “No matter what happens, no matter how much the customer certifies that you are good, not to be happy with what you deliver, to eat all the time and even to take care of even the little things and to correct them as much as you can”, he points out .
Do you want to become a startu per? Learn the simple math of finance
In his opinion, what is the most catastrophic mistake made by the founders of start-ups in Greece? “I think the worst mistakes have to do with two shortcomings. First, the lack of how to sell. People need to be extroverted, create sales themselves, be the best sellers in their company. And the second is the lack of knowledge of financial management. From day one, startupers need to get into concepts like cash flow and budget, because companies with this kind of shortage close to the truth and not a lack of sales. I believe that a startuper can not and should not pay dearly for someone who knows financially well. He should learn all the basic principles on his own, since all finance is clearly based on common sense,
Ensure the support of your own people, do not wait for the perfect moment, go out to sell, learn to communicate
Asked what would be the three most important tips he would give to someone who wants to turn to business, he puts in the first place the consent of the family. “The first and most important thing for someone starting a company is to go to his / her parents, wife / husband, children, friends and get their consent, in the sense that they are the ones who should support. Entrepreneurship is a way of life. The businessman should for many years forget about vacations, eight hours of sleep, many more things… I do not want to make them black, but he must have the support of his own people, so that he does not have side problems, he can is dedicated to what he does.
According to Dionysis Ammolochitis, it is equally important to know that the ideal moment never comes. “The second thing I keep saying is’ I start today, man. Do not wait for the perfect moment, because it simply does not exist and will never exist. Go to your accountant and start activities tomorrow morning “. Let the matter end. And third: people who want to become entrepreneurs need to be trained in extroversion. To learn to communicate, to express themselves. I was lucky and started my career doing door-to-door salesmanship and this is the perfect method of learning extroversion. Go out, get chips or cloths or your product and go sell them yourself. Learn to communicate! ” suggests.
Goal: The largest employer for Facility Management in Europe
What is the next big goal for Manifest? “We have immediate plans. First, for the country’s largest industry, tourism: we have made a turn and are helping hotels better organize their support services. In fact, we have started with very large collaborations and our bar is very high. Secondly, for technology: we are developing our own software (software) the Trulios application at the moment and we are creating a system that can make us unique in our industry, offering our customers an overall and clear picture of their building. Thirdly, the goal is to become the largest employer in Europe in our industry, but not only in terms of numbers, but by positively influencing and inspiring people, nurturing them to bring out their professionalism, so that
Decriminalization of profit with low taxation for high profits
If Dionysis Ammolochitis took over as finance minister tomorrow, he says, the first thing he would do the next day would be to reverse the country’s tax culture in order to decriminalize profits. “Did you make too much profit? Enjoy a very low tax rate. Learn to make a profit, that’s the point. The state should encourage the creation of profitable companies and reward good results, profitable companies. This way, tax evasion will be combated and people will not be afraid to show profits! “If this changes, the private sector can drag the whole of Greece into development,” he estimates.