This is the second part of a three part deep dive guest post about Buyer 2.0 written by Darren Stordahl

Continued from Buyer 2.0 part one: Lane Departure Warning!

Because the Microsoft conference took place in the gray and green Northwest, the messaging brought to mind an exceptional book on effective sales: “Les Schwab Pride in Performance: Keep It Going” (Les Schwab; Maverick publications). It’s a manageable biographical/business tome that describes the life and unique business philosophy of Northwest icon, Les Schwab.

Starting in 1952, Les and his team built a retail distribution chain of tire stores in the western United States. Each of his stores followed a similar approach to customer service and sales: when a prospective customer pulled into the parking lot, the attendants sprinted to the car; Les Schwab also offered special promotions including free beef (from his ranch!) with the purchase of new tires; he offered a strong product and service guarantee; and, because his stores were part of the community, they established long-term relationships with their customers. He also included his employees in the success of the business based on their performance, and the performance of their stores.

This approach propelled his business from a small service shack in 1952 to a billion-dollar tire “empire” with more than 410 stores and $1.6 billion in annual sales by 2007. During that time they successfully transitioned from the rolodex and rotary phones to the maxi-tech environment required for modern customer engagement. They haven’t yet made it from the Northwest all the way to FMT headquarters in Carlsbad, (stopping just north of us in Temecula).  While they aren’t (yet!) a client of FMT Consultants, when I need tires, I would happily go back to Les Schwab. 

Read more in the third part: From Flat to Fantastic.