Tire Centers (TCI) L.L.C.'s new president and CEO may not know much about the tire business yet, but he has lots of experience in the service industry and in customer service to help him in his new job.
``Having come from the field, one of the things I firmly believe is that good service companies execute the fundamentals flawlessly,'' Joe Finney told TCI's T3 marketing program dealers attending the group's Great Escape trip Feb. 13-17 in Nassau. ``There isn't a magic wand to good service. It comes from blocking and tackling basics.''
Mr. Finney took over the leadership of TCI, a wholly owned subsidiary of Michelin North America Inc., Jan. 5, replacing Roy Bromfield, who left the company for other opportunities.
While he had no tire industry experience prior to joining Group Michelin several months earlier, Mr. Finney said he believes his 16 years at ServiceMaster Co. have given him a solid foundation for leading the commercial, re-treading and small tires operations of TCI.
At ServiceMaster, he worked in four different business units, including Terminix, Trugreen Chemlawn, American Residential Service (HVAC) and the company's international division.
His experience at ServiceMaster ran the gamut, starting in a service center he described as similar to a tire dealership. He's been a technician, salesperson, supervisor and a regional director. He also ran two different branches, worked in sales and marketing and participated in acquisitions. He also spent a year overseas managing Terminix Europe, where he had responsibilities for eight countries.
>From this background, Mr. Finney said he believes he's ready to tackle the tire industry and particularly TCI, which he sees having a bright future.
Already he has begun several initiatives, still in their early stages, designed to help improve consistency in the company's service.
``I really see a tremendous opportunity to drive service for the entire industry,'' he said. ``We're going to push the limits of service in terms of unique service guarantees, specific employee-training customer service and enhanced programs for customers, which are all more service-related than we've done in the past.''
To help T3 dealers become acquainted with TCI's new CEO, Dave Snyder, TCI vice president of small tire marketing and sales, invited Mr. Finney on stage during a Great Escape business meeting to answer a few questions.
Asked about the direction he plans to take TCI, Mr. Finney outlined four fundamentals of good service companies.
``First, you have to make sure you always do the right thing,'' he said. ``If I look at what it takes to be successful in the service business, you have to do the right things for your customers, the right thing for your employees.
``And what I mean by doing the right thing is always operating with the very highest of integrity and ethics in everything you do. As you look at how you treat customers and the differences between companies, I really believe that is a sincere competitive advantage because our customers form opinions about us every day.''
Development of people is another fundamental of good service companies, he said.
``Our people are really our hedge in the marketplace, and our customers judge us based on the experience they have with the people they touch, whether that be a technician or someone they greet at the counter or someone they talk to on the phone.... Our front-line people might as well be the president of the company from the customer's standpoint because that's how they will judge our entire company.''
The third fundamental is operational execution-doing things consistently, the same way across the board.
``A consistent operation includes challenging yourself to make yourself better and to always be working to improve through implementing best practices,'' Mr. Finney explained.
The final fundamental of a good service company is financial performance-the ability to make a fair profit for a fair amount of work and doing that with the highest of integrity and ethics first, he said.
Asked about customer service, Mr. Finney said this is a high priority at all levels of the organization. ``I firmly believe that the key to customer service comes through your people.... Happy employees keep customers happy. And happy customers lead toward customer loyalty, long-term relationships and ultimately financial performance.''
And where does he see TCI five years from now? He thinks the company has a ``phenomenal'' growth opportunity and has just scratched the surface of its potential.
Prior to joining TCI, Mr. Finney spent three months working at Euromaster, Group Michelin's European retail business with more than 1,700 tire and automotive service outlets in 10 countries and more than $2 billion in annual revenue.
``They're not growing as quickly as we are, but we really have the opportunity to do much more than we're doing,'' he said.
If TCI can grow, he added, ``we'll have more influence in the marketplace. We'll be able to set benchmarks for other people to try to strive to succeed. And it just creates a great opportunity for us in terms of our ability to provide and negotiate better features for our T3 program.''