Sean Buckley | Chief Executive | Ultra Tune

The world is growing at a rapid pace, and daily commute has become an essential need for our lives. We travel places and expect our journey to go hassle-free. It is vital to keep our vehicles in optimal condition and maintained properly. Many times, just like any other machinery, vehicles can breakdown along the route. These mishaps are disappointing, and often disruptive. So, to keep your journey easy-going Ultra Tune, an Australia based auto service company comes with solutions on the go. The company provides various automobile solutions such as maintenance, repair, tyres, logbook services, roadside assist, suspension and brakes, and air conditioning.

Ultra Tune’s Auto Service Centres are widespread across Australia with some 270 service centres nationally distributed. Ultra Tune provides both private and fleet motorists with a full range of automotive services, each designed to be performed in a structured series of operating procedures ensuring faster, more efficient, and performance-enhancing service.

Sean Buckley, Chief Executive of Ultra Tune, is an Australian entrepreneur with vast experience in many areas of business. He utilizes his expertise in diverse companies he is passionate about. He has been the impetus behind the often criticized but highly successful advertising campaigns.

Below are the highlights of the interview between Ultra Tune’s Sean Buckley and Insights Success.

Describe your background and, what did you do before you started or came into this business?

After graduating (with honors) from university with a degree in marketing, I worked in various capacities for organizations such as Thomas Cook around the world, setting up international agencies before relocating back to Australia and starting with Ultra Tune in a marketing role in the early 1990s.

What are the cutting-edge franchise services/solutions offered by Ultra Tune? 

I often like to tell people, “Ultra Tune is an IT company that just happens to service cars.” Car servicing is our stock in trade, but where Ultra Tune has managed to stay ahead of the competition over the years is by reading market trends and staying ahead of the curve. In the early days we did this by introducing “dyno-tuning” before anyone else, today we aim to stay ahead of the competition by building a state-ofthe- art priority IT platform which handles every aspect of the business – from booking a service to reviewing specific vehicle’s service records to sending out reminders to clients that their next booking is due, to invoicing. Our system is world-leading and provides both franchisees and clients with a seamless and complete service.

What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you? 

I appreciate the drive and focus of Donald Trump – his nonpolitical correctness, business type approach to politics is refreshing and long over-due. Books – I loved the Art of War, and from a “life factors” perspective; my father had a massive influence on helping to establish my persona, work ethic and long-term goals and objectives. It saddens me daily that he passed away before having the opportunity to see what has developed with Ultra Tune and various other companies I’ve founded over the years. I am buoyed by the fact that I know he’d be pleased with those career/professional achievements I’ve managed to achieve. Also and equally influential for me has been the birth of my three beautiful daughters, and I wait with bated breathe to see how their lives unfold going forward.

What is the operating philosophy that the business has been built on? 

Always try to look to the future. Employ good, trustworthy, hard-working people in crucial positions, give them some autonomy, and only provide guidance rather than micromanaging. A number of my staff have been with me for 15 years plus, some of the key innovations we’ve had within the various enterprises I’m involved in can be attributed to my key staff members.

What is your vision for the business/company for the next five years? 

I see the business expanding rapidly over the next few years. Some fundamental changes are occurring to legislation here in Australia in 2020, which will ultimately make for a far fairer playing field in the aftermarket auto servicing sector. I believe dealerships will contract, which will open up more opportunities for Ultra Tune across the country. We also have plans – which are already being rolled out – to provide more trained auto-technicians into the marketplace.

What are some of the vital attributes, in your opinion, that every leader should possess? 

Focus, goal-setting, follow the data, build relationships, employ expertise – listen to them, don’t micro-manage them, and remember; the best predictor of the future is the past – learn from your mistakes and don’t make them again in the future.

How do you maintain the balance between your professional & personal life? 

This can be difficult; there’s absolutely no doubt about it; however, to me, it comes down to priorities. As I get older – and probably a little less “hungry” from a professional perspective, I am taking greater joy in becoming more involved with my kids. It is a big contrast to me. My older daughters are now in their late teens and looking to establish their own careers – something I hope I’ll be able to help/influence them in, so they (hopefully) don’t make the same mistakes as I did as a younger man. Inversely my youngest daughter is only two – watching her explore and learn about the world is a joy – seeing someone so young and unspoiled by society is wonderful. Being loved unconditionally by a little person like this fills my heart with happiness.

What is your greatest life achievement? 

Behind my daughters? Taking a company (Ultra Tune), which was on the verge of collapse and turning into Australia’s leading, independently owned after-sales automotive service network, brings me joy daily from a professional perspective. I also own “Ultra Thoroughbreds” – a horse racing enterprise where we breed and race quality thoroughbred horses all around the world. Having bought and breed some of the most sought after horses in the world (e.g., Ms. Andretti, Shamus Award, and Nature Strip) has been an exciting and fulfilling experience.

As a CEO/leader, describe a challenge you overcame. 

Ultra Tune has faced various challenges over the years, not the least of which is an adverse legal finding after a court case with the ACCC. I was overseas at the time for an extended period and, unfortunately (my own fault), didn’t take an active enough role in the pending case. As a consequence, the company was issued with a hefty fine. This was an operational issue that, once I returned to Australia, was immediately rectified and, thankfully, our clientele has seen it for what it was – a glitch in an otherwise stellar 40 years of operation. What it did show me was the need to keep my finger on the pulse of the organization at all times. The implications could have been catastrophic; however, being such a well-established and credible company allowed us to ride this setback out, and after that, the company has come back even more stronger than before.

How do you sustain your entrepreneurial/leadership spirit in this changing technological era? 

As indicated above – by (a) embracing it, (b) trying to stay one step ahead of it (e.g., Looking at market trends) – for example, a significant portion of our bookings now come via mobile phones; consequently, we are moving with the times and reallocating much of our marketing budget away from “conventional” forms of marketing such as television and radio and into digital platforms – which we see as “the way of the future.” We aim to be leaders, not followers.

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