You can agree or disagree with certain business practices, but success is
usually never questioned. Success generally doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it come without a great deal of hard work. Dreams, tremendous expectations and personal drive factor heavily into the success formula.
When you started your business, could you imagine building success with an initial business plan that had a unit sales goal of just five tires per day? Probably not. But that’s the plan one now very successful dealer started out with back in 1961 when he opened shop in an old storefront in Ann Arbor, Mich. Any idea who this person is?
Well maybe this will help you get closer to the answer. Today this dealer has 500 stores. Getting warmer?
This operation has four distribution centers and nationwide per day unit sales of nearly 50,000 tires. This dealer oversees some 9,000 employees in 19 states, and his company posts $1.5 billion in annual revenues. Figured it out yet?
And just when you thought this level of success was enough, Bruce Halle of Discount Tire plans to have 1,000 stores in place by 2010.
Now, I’m not a big book reader. Periodicals are my thing (I guess that’s why I’m in the magazine business). But a recently published book, "The Legend of Discount Tire Co. Inc." caught my eye. As books go, this 150-pager was an easy read, and a good one for anyone in the tire business.
I’m not about to offer a book review, but as Lee Fiedler, retired president and CEO of Kelly-Springfield, said of Halle, "He’s got to be one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time. I don’t think there’s anybody who meets him who doesn’t take away something. I know I did."
Perhaps some of you are not Discount Tire fans, but I do think you can find something of value in this book for yourself and your business.
After scanning the first few pages, I felt it was worth giving it a read. So, on a cold winter’s night (like there is anything else in Ohio right now), I poured through the pages and learned quite a bit about the man and his business philosophy.
One of the first things that struck me, and one of the important reasons for his success, is the number of happy that’s right, happy ®“ people who work for this company.
My editor, who can be a real bloodhound when it comes to bringing facts to the surface, has often told me, "Don’t believe everything you see or hear." So, I went directly to the source and spoke with a few Discount Tire employees.
You know what? They are happy people. Happy about what they do and happy about who they work for. That’s impressive, especially in today’s world where few people seem to be interested in the customer and lack that "I love my job" smile every customer wants to see. That smiling, happy employee seems to be the norm at Discount Tire. When was the last time you checked the happy meter in your operation?
Another well-stated point in the book is the loyalty Halle has for his employees. If you think about it, loyalty is one of the strongest management tools business owners or managers look for, and can instill in, their people.
Typically, loyalty is what an employer expects from employees. Not with Halle. He is openly loyal to his employees. And, because of that level of trust and dedication, Halle’s employees are fiercely loyal to him.
And it’s at this point when you, as a manager, have earned the total dedication of your workforce.
Halle’s energetic counter-corporate culture attitude is also a major component of his company’s continued success. Every one of his employees has the same opportunities to advance, and nearly every employee started their Discount Tire careers changing tires.
If you’d like to get this book and learn more about Halle’s business methods, you can find it online at www.writestuffbooks.com.
But before I hit the lights, turn down the thermostat and call it a night, let me give you my net take-away from this book: One of Halle’s most positive attributes is that there is really nothing wholly remarkable about him. He didn’t invent anything, and he has no black magic secret to success.
The fundamental difference between Halle and others is that he has remained faithful to his values and the philosophy under which he established his business 43 years ago.
Keep your focus and maintain your commitment. It sometimes can be that simple.