Rewards he adds are also very important and he is blunt here – he means money. “People need it to educate their children, to pay the mortgage and go on holidays. So we had a profit sharing scheme and an opportunity to share in our fortunes. We had 50% of staff as shareholders when we sold,” he states. “People trusted the organisation and the management. We worked hard on that. We made mistakes, we let people down by making statements that we just couldn’t deliver. But when that happened we had to be very quick in putting that right.
All businesses, large or small, have to have accurate and timely information with which immediate action can be taken to make improvements or put a stop to anything that is creating negative results.”
Customer service was also vital in the group’s growth. Farmer says it was well “ahead of the game” and its time. “In those days people had no knowledge about cars. It was like going to the doctor because you had no idea what the ailment was and there was a suspicion of the service. We were obsessed with changing that and we said if we make a mistake then we will put it right,” Farmer says. “When we came out with ‘Our goal is 100% customer satisfaction that was seen as revolutionary! But it shouldn’t have been satisfied. I’m a customer and I’ve just paid you £200 I’d better be satisfied or I won’t be back! It’s not even customer delight – why would anyone be delighted about a new exhaust? You never see them! No, it should be about making your customer happy in that 10 or 15 minutes when you deal with them.”
Read tomorrow’s instalment of Born with Drive for a final message from Sir Tom Farmer…