This Airforce Vet’s Best Business Weapon is Attention to Detail
As a former Weapons Director for the U.S. Air Force, veteran and Ziebart franchise owner, Nick Lambie was in charge of managing every move of his tanker and fighter aircrafts in order to execute each mission successfully. One mistake could have potentially fatal consequences for anyone under his command, so it was vital to keep everything under his watch in perfect working order to avoid disaster.
Lambie has found that the secret to franchising success lives in the same detail-oriented mindset he carried with him throughout his time in the Air Force. Today, he is the owner of a successful Ziebart franchise in his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia. Franchising USA’s editors sat down with Lambie to discuss the lessons he has carried over from the military into business ownership. Here’s what he had to say:
Understand Other Perspectives
Before embarking on a mission, Nick Lambie was tasked with wrapping his head around every detail so he knew exactly what his team had to do and when. He was challenged to think critically about not only his next move as a leader, but his entire team as a whole and its potential outcome. This has translated into how he runs his business. Leaders can only be effective if they understand not only theirs, but their team and ultimately their customer’s point of view.
Nick and his wife, Courtney found Ziebart when they needed to take their car in for protection services against the harsh weather of upstate New York. Nick was immediately impressed with the thoughtful, personalized care he received and assumed Ziebart was a small, locally-owned company. A year later, he discovered that Ziebart was a franchise and knew it would be a perfect fit for Morgantown knowing that vehicle owners in his area needed services to protect the integrity of their vehicles. Lambie set out to bring his own location to Morgantown with the support of Ziebart’s home office in Troy, Michigan and opened his store in the summer of 2019. Today, the store has grown widely-popular in the community, especially as the reliance on personal vehicles is at an all-time high amid the pandemic.
Lambie credits the success of his store to having an understanding of Ziebart’s customer and what they need most, since he and his wife were once customers themselves.
Lead by Example
Lambie learned first-hand from his military experience that the only way to earn the respect of your team is to work right alongside them. In turn, “leading from the front” has carried over into running his Ziebart store.
If you were to walk into his store on any given day, it’s likely you’d find him alongside his brother Mark – who runs their day-to-day operations – getting deep into the weeds of servicing a customer’s car, whether he’s vacuuming some deep-rooted grime out of the upholstery or running out to grab his team lunch in the middle of a busy week.
“I do everything I can to help out and work side by side with the team. I’m not just a boss giving orders,” Lambie said. “If I want my team to succeed, I need to do my job as a leader to show them the way.”
Communication is Key
In the military, Nick Lambie traveled all over the world and met people of different ethnicities and backgrounds within his unit and in the outside world. One of the most important things he learned during this time is that communication and being able to connect with others is not only important to your success, but gratifying to open your mind to new people, personalities and cultures.
Lambie strives to communicate often with his team members and to build meaningful, personal connections with them on a daily basis. This means if a team member is having a great week and has been going above and beyond to get their tasks done and done well, they are acknowledged and rewarded. He recognizes that in order to create that essential team connection, acknowledgement of one another’s successes is key, and those connections shouldn’t solely be based on proximity. Even on the other hand, if a team member is not having such a great week, Lambie would lend an ear to understand what needs to be said or done to help that person succeed.
Open communication doesn’t stop at just team members – it expands to communication with customers as well. Lambie’s team makes sure to send out hourly changes and updates, post all safety measures and give fair and accurate estimates of the time and money needed for a service to be completed. Their honest and transparent approach to customer communication is what keeps them coming back and safe.
It's All in the Details
At the end of the day, whether embarking on a mission overseas or taking on a day in the life of a franchise owner, it all boils down to attention to detail in order to succeed. The skills Lambie learned from his military service – understanding, a hands-on leadership approach and strong communication skills – have all led him to becoming a successful Ziebart franchisee who prides himself on the impact that he gets to make on the lives of customers in his community on a daily basis.