I don't typically make much conversation on the plane. It's not that I'm not interested in other people, it's just the whole process of air travel can be taxing, especially if you've done it multiple days in a row. So, when I boarded a plane headed for Manchester, NH, a while ago, I was ready to put the headphones on, crank up the music, pull out the most recent issue of Forbes... and check out.
Fortunately, I had forgotten my headphones.
I say "fortunately" because Bob and his wife sat down next to me. It turned out, Bob is the entrepreneur's entrepreneur - literally a nugget-of-wisdom-filled, high energy guy who had more ideas, advice, and encouragement than our 2-hour flight even allowed.
He had opened one tire store in 1971. By the time he had sold his company in 2009, Bob had built his enterprise to 47 stores across New England. He survived and thrived competing against the big box stores, Goodyear and Firestone stores, and even auto dealerships selling tires.
Shrewd, yes, but more impressive was his incredible focus on customer service. Bob understood the lifetime value of a customer, so he worried less about the final sale price and more about taking care of the customer along the road.
Because we work with manufacturers AND their dealer networks, I couldn't help but wonder how valuable a dealer like Bob must have been to the tire manufacturers who sold to him. Considering a formula of Longevity x Annual Sales x Profit Margin, Bob had to have been a goldmine for his suppliers, while mining his own gold along the way.