Sean Buckley – Leveraging the Industry Trends

Sean Buckley CEO Ultra Tune

Ultra Tune

Tuning in to your favorite music in the car and long smooth roads, just the perfect recipe for a great drive! Well, have you ever thought, that is your car tuned in to its music? Any car or a bike is an orchestra in itself, the engine sounds, the sounds of the brakes, and everything else. And just one sound goes out of tune, it affects the whole thing.

This is why the servicing of your vehicles is so important. Sean Buckley, who was the owner of Ultra Thoroughbreds, acquired the functioning of Ultra Tune as the CEO in 1994. Sean went about building Ultra Tune at the expense of his comfort. He was making $100 a week in wages so that he could invest back into the business, specifically the franchisees, because these were the people who were driving the model.

The Journey –

Ultra Tune commenced trading in 1979 with a pilot store in Box Hill, Victoria, and rapidly expanded across the country after businessman Bert Smart saw a specialist Fast Tune-Up store in Hawaii whilst traveling home to Australia from the USA. Through Smart’s vision, a franchise model was established which saw the new business expand rapidly into all Australian states except WA. Using the latest Dyno Tune technology, which enabled vehicles to be tuned whilst on “rolling roads”, Ultra Tune garnered wide public acceptance in the competitive after-market servicing sphere. 

By 1983 Smart realized the “tune-up only” offering was not viable in the long term for the network and instead of redeveloping the franchise model to accommodate a wider range of alternative services he decided to sell off the franchise to new owners (predominantly groups of existing Ultra Tune franchisees) in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia.

In 1988 each of the franchisor entities (with the exception of South Australia) merged and formed a new company Ultra Tune (Systems) Australia Pty Ltd. (UTSA). Within the following 12 months, UTSA opened its first franchise store in Perth, WA.

In the early-to-mid 1990s, the network experienced turmoil and faced financial ruin with many stores across the network forced to close due to high rental lease costs. It was at that point that Current Executive Chairman, Sean Buckley acquired management and then later shareholding control in Ultra Tune sometime after a public auction in 1994 and after receivers had been appointed to UTSA.

Ultra Tune Australia Pty Ltd was born and over the next 22 plus years under Buckley’s stewardship using his business model – which included the acquisition of competing brands such as Car Care Clinic (1999) and Auto Masters sites in Queensland and NSW during the early 2000’s – grew the organization from around 70 mediocrely operating franchises into a successful national franchise network model.

While Ultra Tune started with a fixed price tune and lube service it now provides both fleet and private motorists with a full range of services, each designed to be performed in a structured series of operating procedures that ensure faster, more efficient, and cost-effective service.

Ultra Tune has subsequently expanded its range of services to include tires and all tire-related servicing needs. Ultra Tune employs specialist personnel from all relevant disciplines to provide first-class backup and support to franchise owners. The key administrative staff is professionals from accounting, financial management, and marketing backgrounds. The Franchisor’s technical and training staff are highly qualified; some having previously owned and operated or managed an Ultra Tune franchise. They are constantly being updated and instructed on the latest technical innovations and procedures.

Today, Ultra Tune is considered the industry leader in its technical field.

100% Australian owned with more than 280 centers 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.

Ultra Tune specializes in the maintenance and servicing of all popular makes and models of motor vehicles in the Australian market, providing a wide range of servicing options including manufacturer’s handbook servicing, tuning, air-conditioning servicing, and general repairs.

Products and Services –

Ultra Tune provides both fleet and private motorists with a full range of services, each designed to be performed in a structured series of operating procedures, ensuring a faster, more efficient, and cost-effective service to all.

Ultra Tune looks after all vehicle servicing needs including, but not limited to manufacturer’s handbook servicing, tuning, air-conditioning servicing, and general repairs. Since launching Ultra Tyres in 2013 Ultra Tune is also able to supply and fit high-quality,  affordable tires for most vehicle types. In addition, The Ultra Tune Roadside Assistance program provides motorists with peace of mind knowing if anything does happen while out on the road, assistance is never far away. Unlike other service providers, Ultra Tune can offer and “end to end” servicing of all common (and exotic) makes and models of motor vehicles – from tires to batteries and everything else in between.

“Our focus is on innovation and differentiation – Ultra Tune utilizes it’s own purposed built, state-of-the-art IT platform which seamlessly integrates all of the company’s services and vehicle service history in one central repository.”

Ultra Tune is often referred to as an “IT company that happens to service motor vehicles”. Staying at the cutting edge of such innovation, in all aspects of business has helped keep Ultra Tune at the forefront and widely recognized as THE leading after-sales service automotive service provider in Australia. Whilst the competition was “contemplating” the merit of social media advertising, Ultra Tune was already marketing to more than 500,000 Facebook followers and using various other mechanisms of digital marketing to stay ahead of the competition – a philosophy that has served the company well over the years.

Ultra Tune has also introduced a series of television commercials called the “Unexpected Situation”. These ads have retained some high-profile celebrities over the years like Charlie Sheen and Pamela Anderson. These have proven central to the success and differentiation of the company for the last 6-7 years significantly raising the profile of the brand.

Sean Buckley – Entrepreneurial Intelligence

Sean Buckley is an Australian entrepreneur with vast experience in many areas of business. Sean is Executive Chairman at The Ultra Group of Companies which includes (among others) Ultra Tune and Ultra Thoroughbreds – one of Australia’s largest and most successful Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding enterprises. Sean is a skilled entrepreneur with a diverse range of interests including sports, business, and new technologies. He went about building Ultra Tune at the expense of his comfort. He famously took $100 a week in wages so that he could invest back into the business, specifically the franchisees, because these were the people who were driving his long-term vision and the business model.

Entrepreneurs need to “think outside the box“.

In 2016 Sean Buckley appeared on behalf of Ultra Tune and other independent after-sales service providers at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (the industry’s professional lobby group where he now sits on the board) inquiry into the monopoly that new car manufacturers were attempting to sustain on after sales, servicing, Sean’s appearance and the background work completed by Ultra Tune proved decisive in opening up the market to greater competition in the industry with legislative changes resulting.

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