If there’s one word that captures the essence of what has occurred in our world today, it’s change.
Although the economy has finally stabilized, business has changed dramatically. In fact, there is no more “business as usual.” The race has changed. The rules are different. Business may never be the same.
Using state-of-the-art technology is not optional; it is now critical to every business. No longer is marketing simply a delivery mechanism. Social marketing and branding are now standard business practices for every business. Highly creative and memorable messages in advertising are now more critical than ever.
Sales professionals are under the gun to meet their goals. They must possess skills that are far superior to any competitor, and come armed with performance racing expertise.
Business owners are challenged by rising costs in technology and equipment. The same is true of health care, shipping, supplies, utilities, insurance, and in practically every bill they must pay. Looking at the balance in the books, they can easily see that revenue is really nice, but profit is what matters.
Customers have changed. They are more sophisticated and better informed. They have more choices, and are more cost-conscious and service savvy than ever. If you want to win them over, you must give them what they want, when they want it, at the price they want to pay for it, or they’ll head straight over to a competitor. It’s that simple.
Competition has always been tough, but today’s competition is fierce. New competitors are emerging daily. Even if your racing business is highly profitable, you can never feel too comfortable. Just like a driver in the heat of a race, the moment you think you’re ahead of the competition, they will have the advantage. And if you are a racer or team owner, finding sponsorship is just as competitive as the race itself.
In fact, whether you are a driver, team owner, manufacturer, engine builder, racing retailer, fabricator or warehouse distributor, the watchword today is “competitiveness”—in every aspect of the motorsports business, and especially in the delivery of personalized and flawless customer service.
These are just a few of the challenges we must face in today’s new world. The question remains: What should we do to position ourselves to stay in the race for business growth and prosperity?
We can’t control the changes that have occurred, and no doubt there’s more to come. Change brings challenges. But as individuals, we have choices as to how we react to these changes. We can choose to accept the fact that what may have worked in the past will not work in the future. We can choose to adapt, have a positive attitude, figure out what we need to do to accelerate our businesses, and keep driving!
Slow Down to Speed Up
To maximize your driving power, no matter how busy you are, you must first slow down in order to speed up business. Take the time to create an accurate road map to lead you to the best route for your business. Always remember that your business is just that—a business. Manufacturers and retailers in this industry do, but there are others who are so focused and passionate about speed and racing that they tend to forget it’s a business that must make a profit.
Take a good hard look at your business with the eye of an outside, unbiased consultant and gather honest answers to the hard questions on the High Performance Road Map below. Include your team, and keep their involvement ongoing. You may also consider hiring a motorsports business expert to assist you.
HIGH PERFORMANCE ROAD MAP
What are our three greatest strengths as a business or a team?
How can we leverage our greatest strengths to grow our business?
How’s our reputation in our community?
How’s our reputation in our industry?
Do we need to make a bigger effort to develop a reputation for excellence in all we do?
Are our advertising, sales, and marketing strategies working?
Do we need ads and visuals on our website that are more eye-catching than any competitors’?
Do we have enough video on our site to draw traffic to our site and show customers what we can do?
Are we obtaining business and inquiries from our website, or is it time to obtain the services of an SEO specialist?
Are we using online marketing to draw more traffic to our events?
Do we have a newsletter we send out with great visuals, ads, and information publicizing our events?
What are we doing that is different from other racing companies that will make us stand out in the minds of our customers and promote word-of-mouth advertising?
Where are there opportunities to obtain more referrals or drive more business to us?
How much of our business comes from referrals? Are we asking for them?
How can we promote our business in a way that is different than the competition?
Can we depend on each other, so we can focus on the most important person to our business—the customer?
How can we improve communication on the team and with customers?
How would customers rate the level of service we provide?
Are we obtaining feedback from our customers, or should we start calling after every job or major sale?
Are we consistently working to improve our service?
How quickly do we respond to calls? Is it easy to do business with us?
Are we making a conscious effort to be friendlier than our competitors?
Do we make our customers feel like “family”?
What have we done to exceed expectations, and what practices can we put into place to exceed expectations in the future?
What three areas need the most improvement?
How is our pricing?
Do customers feel they receive value from the price they pay?
Do we consistently strive to be a better business?
Do we consistently work toward being better than our competition? Do we make an effort to be better than our competition in every aspect of the customer experience?
Do we strive to under-promise and do everything we can to over-deliver?
Once you finish compiling answers, which may take some time, you'll be in a better position to see things more clearly, make decisions, and create your winning race strategy. This can be hard work, but your biggest challenge will be to implement necessary changes to sustain the momentum of the drive.
So after this session take a good hard look at your answers, and then create an action plan that will help drive the growth of your business and improve profitability. Unfortunately, we sometimes (even unknowingly) put up our own roadblocks to success. We make an action plan with a road map to follow and we don’t follow it. We go back to “business as usual.”
Smart business professionals, however, understand that, “Knowing what you should be doing and doing it are two very different things. Execution must be a strong part of your competitive strategy!”
Here’s another key: Put the 2014 PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis (December 11–13) as one of your destinations. There, you will see the latest and coolest technology and equipment (and people!), and be able to leverage vendor expertise.
The companies you buy from want you to stay in the race and win. Enlist their help in growing your own business. These can be important alliance partnerships to ensure that you are keeping up with the times. Vendors should be viewed as allies for staying in the race for business growth and profitability and continuous improvement. The more you grow, the more your vendors will grow with you.
Keep in mind:
• Always maintain a clear focus on your customers. Encourage everyone who works in your business to embrace an obsession for customer service excellence with every customer encounter.
• Follow your race strategy. Once you have completed the road map stage, you will have your own plan. Follow it as closely as you can in order to stay on course. But if something is not working, do what any smart executive or business owner would do—shift gears fast!
• You will always have to find ways to be better and smarter—and drive faster—than your competitors. If you are a racer, there’s a finish line to cross. For most of us, though, the race for business growth has no finish line.
And with that in mind, there’s one thing you can count on: The world will continue to change. Here’s what won’t change though—the love of the race. Enjoy the ride!