DALLAS — More than 20 years ago Carl Sewell, the owner of a local motor vehicle dealership here, wrote a book. The name of the book is “Customers for Life.” Because its message is timeless the book was recently re-released by Doubleday. After the book’s initial publication, Sewell was in big demand as a speaker although he readily admits he is not professional speaker nor, for that matter, a professional writer. He sold and sells motor vehicles, just like his father did before him. And he's sold a lot of them. A lot.
He doesn’t do much public speaking these days. But when the folks at Lambert Landscaping, based here and hosting the Next Level Network University, asked Carl to speak to the 120-plus owners and managers of the seven companies here he agreed. It turns out he has been a lifelong customer of Lamberts.
Speaking in a calm and friendly voice and with more than a little folksy humor he shared some very powerful insights with the Green Industry professionals.
I’m just going to relate a couple of his key points, hoping that you’ll buy the book, read it and put in practice what he’s learned over the course of his extremely successful career running a family business. At the core of his message were two fundamentals for anyone’s business success: 1.) absolute integrity and 2.) performance.
I’ll share just a few other take-homes from Sewell’s presentation to keep this message short.
Start out by determining what exactly you want to be within your industry or market, said Sewell. Do you want to be a top 50 company? A top 10? Number one?
“If you decide you want to be the best it simplifies many things,” he added.
You get to be the best by finding out who’s the best (not necessarily the biggest) in your industry, studying how they got to be the best, in fact going to see them, if possible, and taking some of your key folks with you. You want more viewpoints than your own.
Also, find and develop mentors. This is critical. It saves a lot of mistakes and prevents a lot of sleepless nights. Sewell says retired people who have been very successful in their respective fields often greatly appreciate the opportunity to help younger people that are interested in learning. Almost in all cases, these relationships lead to lasting friendships. At least they did for him, Sewell said.
A couple final points.
While today’s economy is discouraging to a lot of people it still offers “infinite opportunity” and especially for the landscape business, he said. It’s a great time, best in decades to acquire new talent, acquire other companies and to strengthen your business teams with training and additional education, he believes.
“You might not have another opportunity like this for quite some time again,” he said.
Get Carl Sewell’s “Customers for Life." It’s a quick and enjoyable read, and a book that you will revisit again and again to keep you and your company headed in the right direction.
Note: when I goggled the book on Amazon I saw that there were used copies for as little as $1.38. Regardless of what the book costs, if you take to heart what Carl’s experiences taught him, it will repay you over and over again. – Ron Hall