Last week I had the honor of being the closing keynote speaker for AutoZone’s national sales meeting in Memphis, Tennessee. 3,000 “Zoners” filled the Memphis Convention Center all dressed in the same pressed gray shirt uniform. In my seven years on the speaking circuit I have NEVER spoken to an audience like this one.
Minutes after I got off stage I texted my Chief Operating Officer:
“Cathy – Holy $#%! That was the best audience I’ve ever spoken to. These AutoZone folks are PASSIONATE! Standing ovation before I even finished my talk. Fire every client. I’m going to work for AutoZone!”
81,000 people call themselves Zoners. They go to work every day serving nearly six million customers a week inside their 5,814 auto supply stores throughout the United States, Mexico and Brazil. Last year, AutoZone ranked 300 on the Fortune 500 clocking in $10.8 billion in annual sales. This 37-year old company understands customer service like no other.
3000 Zoners chanted THE AUTOZONE PLEDGE like they were at a rock concert. I’ve never seen anything like it!
AUTOZONERS ALWAYS PUT CUSTOMERS FIRST.
WE KNOW OUR PARTS and PRODUCTS.
OUR STORES LOOK GREAT!
WE’VE GOT the BEST MERCHANDISE at the RIGHT PRICE.
And these Zoners don’t just chant THE PLEDGE at their annual sales rally – they LIVE IT! In fact, the core operating system inside every AutoZone store is:
DROP what is in your hands.
STOP what you are doing.
And Greet the customer in 30 seconds or within 30 feet!
I visited a handful of AutoZone stores as part of my due diligence before keynoting their conference. They need to change their motto to DROP/STOP/15/15 because I haven’t been served that quickly since walking out of the Cabo San Lucas, Mexico airport greeted by a hundred taxi drivers!
“Culture only works when your people live it,” shared Tom Newbern, AutoZone’s Executive Vice President of Store Operations.
We’re all so busy… returning e-mails – answering text messages – attending staff meetings – managing budgets. Sales people spend more time filling out pipeline reports than serving their customers. What if we all lived Drop/Stop/30/30 with all our customers and clients? How would that change the culture (and results) of our organizations?
Makes me want to put on a grey pressed shirt and chant – ALWAYS PUT CUSTOMERS FIRST. So, when a customer walks through your office door – DROP/STOP/30/30 – let me know how that changes your organization…and your life.