We, at The Chief’s Digest, really love the adrenaline rush that we get out of celebrating the successes that firms and organizations achieve when they push through the challenges and stick to their vision against all odds. Here, we present to you yet another company that maintained an adaptive and proactive approach during the current COVID climate and will continue to be the leading independently owned auto-service company in Australia.
Let’s give it up for Ultra Tune.
Inception of The Company
Ultra Tune was established in 1979 with its first centre in Box Hill, Victoria, and has expanded rapidly ever since. In 1983, it was split into state organizations (South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland) owned by local groups of franchisees. Whilst the South Australian group remained independent until 2017, in 1988 the three eastern states merged and with the expansion into Western Australia formed Ultra Tune Systems (Australia) Pty Ltd. In 1994, the business was purchased by Ultra Tune Australia Pty Ltd and since then has grown to become one of Australia’s largest automotive franchise networks, with more than 270 franchise centres nationally.
We had the pleasure of interacting with Sean, the Executive Chairman of Ultra Tune, and he was gracious enough to let us have a glimpse of how his family at Ultra Tune worked towards satisfying their customers. Let’s hear it from him.
Tell us something about yourself. How did your journey with Ultra Tune begin?
I was raised in the Eastern suburbs of Victoria. I was the firstborn son of Peter Buckley and Gloria Buckley and had a younger brother Clayton, who passed away a couple of years ago. I went to high school at Mazenod College in Mulgrave and after obtaining my High School Certificate (HSC), I attended Chisholm Institute completing Bachelor of Business and Marketing in 1984.
I was then appointed Market Research Manager for Safeway/Woolworths working on new store development and new product ranges. In 1988, I travelled to Hong Kong to work with Thomas Cook, setting up offices in India and Pakistan. I returned to Australia in 1994 and commenced work with Ultra Tune soon thereafter.
What does it mean to you to be an Executive Chairman of Ultra Tune?
I take this responsibility VERY seriously. The buck stops with me! I am largely responsible for the livelihood of thousands of people across our network. I consider Ultra Tune as my family and I make business decisions with this in mind. I would rather lose a million dollars than do the wrong thing by my “family”. For me, one of the most important traits any businessman should exemplify is loyalty. My intent is always to act in a loyal, truth and mutually beneficial manner in business to ensure win/win/win scenarios – wins for our customers, wins for our franchisees and wins for Ultra Tune Australia.
What would you say is the major differentiating factor that has helped Ultra Tune make its mark in the automotive franchise marketplace?
I often like to tell people that Ultra Tune is an IT company that just happens to service cars. Obviously, our 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-of-the-art priority IT platform which handles every aspect of the business – from booking service to reviewing 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. You either move with the times and evolve or you perish – just ask the dinosaurs!
What are the major achievements and accomplishments of Ultra Tune?
Ultra Tune is widely regarded as the leading independently owned auto-service network in Australia. With some 270 stores across the country in every state – except for Tasmania where we hope to open a couple of centres soon – Ultra Tune is readily available throughout the country. Annually, we service some 500,000 vehicles a year across the network and have been rated three out of the last four years Australia’s best in category by Canstar Blue – an independent agency rating various services across Australia. It is clear that, consistently, we continue to provide a superior service to our valued clients.
Where do you see the company five years from now? Are you planning any major strategic changes in the concept?
I see the business expanding rapidly over the next few years. Some key changes are occurring to legislation here in Australia in 2020 which will ultimately make for a far fairer playing field in the auto-servicing market. I believe dealerships will contract and 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.
The Man Behind the Success
Sean serves as the Executive Chairman of the Ultra Group of Companies, of which Ultra Tune is one. He also sits on the Board of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), the professional body that represents independent car repairers.
“Always aim to be on the cutting edge of developments in whatever that industry may be.”
– Sean Buckley, Executive Chairman of the Ultra Group of Companies
“100% Australian owned with more than 270 centres operating throughout Australia, Ultra Tune’s growth is steeped in a tradition of quality, affordable service with a vision towards an evolving, ever-changing future.”