PEARL LEMON INTERVIEWS:
Sean Buckley is an Australian entrepreneur, thoroughbred racehorse owner and investor. He is executive chairman of the Ultra Tune car service franchise. He is also the principal of the Ultra Group of Companies.
A Fireside Chat
I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Sean Buckley from Ultra Tune today. With a background in marketing, Sean and I had more than enough to talk about.
He took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know him better and hear more about the things that have helped shape his business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!
What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?
One of my favourite all-time reads is The Art of War. For a bit of escapism I enjoy Lee Child’s character “Jack Reacher”.
What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?
My most positive purchase of less than $100 is a $35 “Summer Water Cushion” for my two-year-old daughter. Watching the joy on her face as she jumped and frolicked on the toy was a joy. Here’s a link to it: Check it out.
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
Work/life balance is of the utmost importance to me. I exercise regularly (daily) during which time I zone out – no phones, no distractions, etc.
I continually take stock of my circumstances and regularly ask myself if a course of action I am contemplating is going to enrich my life and those for which I’m responsible for in my organisation or if in the long term it will be counterproductive.
Rather than “rushing in” as I would as a younger man, I’m a lot more measured now than what I would have been in my decision making.
What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?
To make knee-jerk reactions. There has to be a degree of gut intuition in the decision-making process, but I’m one for employing good expertise and delegating decisions to experts that I trust. Micro-managing is one of the worst things I see regularly.
In The Last Five Years, What New Belief, Behavior, Or Habit Has Most Improved Your Life?
Without a doubt focusing more on work/life balance. When I was younger, I was obsessed with my work and professional goals, often to the detriment of my own health and important personal and professional relationships.
With the passage of time, I’ve realised that improving work/life balance long-term pays huge dividends from a professional perspective anyway.
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
Purchasing Ultra Tune when it was a basket-case and in administration and restructuring the organisation to the point where it is now the number one privately owned auto-service franchise group in Australia.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT BECAUSE YOU'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT IT, NOT BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU CAN MAKE A BUCK OUT OF IT.
- SEAN BUCKLEY
If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?
Entrepreneurs need to “think outside the box” – Lead, don’t follow!
How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?
I was bankrupted in my late 20’s. I wear that as a “badge of honour”. I vowed to never make the same mistakes again, and I learned by those mistakes. Professionally, the rest is now history with what my team and I have built with Ultra Tune.
What Advice Would You Give To A Smart, Driven College Student About To Enter The “Real World”? What Advice Should They Ignore?
Whatever you do, do it because you’re passionate about it, NOT because you think you can make a buck out of it. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing (a), you’ll not work a day in your life and (b), the rewards – financial and otherwise – will follow.
Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?
My business is the number one, privately owned independent, aftermarket, auto-service franchise group in Australia.
We have some 270 stores throughout mainland Australia. We are routinely about 30% cheaper for the same service as what dealerships charge customers, so we are an “industry disruption” – manufactures and dealerships hate us because we can offer consumers comparable – and in many instances – superior service considerably cheaper than our competition.
All because of a smart, lean business model that I was central to developing nearly 30 years ago and have continued to evolve over the years.
What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?
Please see my previous comment! To which I add, “be patient”.
Tell Us About Someone You Admire And Why You Admire Them?
As strange as it may seem, I always admired Hugh Hefner from Playboy. He identified a niche market, started an empire from nothing and did it his way, all the way up until when he passed away. I visited the Playboy mansion once and met with him in his later life and found him to be a most interesting and engaging person.
What Profession Other Than Your Own Would You Like To Attempt?
My university qualifications are in marketing – that is where my passion has always been. I’m quite creative, so working in a high-paced marketing agency with multiple clients and challenges would appeal to me. In most other settings I’d likely end up bored.
What Is A 'Hack' You Have For Success That Most People Don't Know About?
I wouldn’t necessarily described it as a “hack” but one motto that I live my life by is “Consistency over time” – keep doing the little things daily and ultimately they add up to being big things!
Where Do You See Your Industry In The Next 5 Years?
As mentioned previously, Ultra Tune currently has about 270 stores across Australia. Within the next 3-5 years we’ll have 300 and we’re adding a labour hire division to our service offerings.
What Is The Most Surprising Thing You've Seen In Your Industry?
The way the industry has changed so much in a relatively short period of time. I now describe Ultra Tune as a “technology company that just happens to service cars”. Digitisation is the industrial revolution of the modern era.
What Is A Useful Skill Someone Could Learn In One Minute?
To be patient and consistent.
How Has Covid-19 Changed Your Company?
We’ve been forced to become more adaptive and innovative with our services and technological services.
How Has Covid-19 Changed Your Industry?
Like everyone else, in Victoria, in particular, our sales decreased by ~30%. However, relatively speaking Ultra Tune has been pretty lucky. We service cars; people are reluctant to use public transport at the moment, so they are servicing and using their cars more.
People aren’t currently holidaying overseas, they are doing driving holidays, so, once again, their vehicles are being used more. Money is tight, and second-hand cars sales are increasing. Ultra Tune specialises in servicing vehicles that are 6-10 years old – so, by and large, we are currently doing pretty well.
Plus we’ve added a vehicle sanitation service which the general public has really embraced.
What Did You Have For Breakfast This Morning?
Scrambled eggs on toast and coffee.
What's Your Favourite Holiday Destination?
I love the United States – LA and Hawaii.
What's Your Favourite Colour?
Black and Green – Ultra Tune colours.
What Popular Celebrity Do You Admire The Most And Why?
Over the journey I’ve met a number of celebrities, in fact, we’ve had a lot of them in our television commercials including Jean Claude Van Damme, Charlie Sheen, Mike Tyson, and Pamela Anderson.
I’ve met John Cena and Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as too many sporting heroes to list here. I really admire what Schwarzenegger has achieved from such humble beginnings with nothing more initially than hard-work and dedication. The same with Sylvester Stallone – plus at the end of the day, I’m just a big kid who loves action movies!
What One Thing In Life Do You Consider To Be Overrated?
What Are You NOT Very Good At?
For someone who knows a car servicing company, I could probably be a better driver, I’m forever scrapping my vehicles!
What's Your Star Sign?
Check Out Sean's Company Profiles:
Pearl Lemon are an SEO, PPC, PR, and B2B lead-generation agency. We are based in London but service clients around the world.
We have taken the time to interview entrepreneurs and experts (like Sean) in this new series.