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The Big Picture
By Dan Schechner on March 1, 2019

It’s been a few decades, but as a youngster I really enjoyed working through a good jigsaw puzzle.

Didn’t even matter what the image was, there was just something about fitting all those little pieces together to form a nice, clear picture that struck a chord.

One minute you’re sitting in front of a table full of scattered, seemingly unrelated parts… and then a short time later you’ve created a fully formed likeness of a castle, or a painting, or Jimi Hendrix.
    
Which got me to thinking about the latest edition of PRI Magazine’s annual Racing Business Survey, the results of which are presented beginning on page 44.

In fact, the process we used to solicit input, gather information, make sense of that information and then arrive at our conclusions was not unlike that of assembling our beloved jigsaw puzzle.

For this exercise, however, we started with about 30 questions and received feedback from nearly 600 respondents from all across the US. Our queries ranged from basic nuts and bolts (“Where is your company located?” “What is your primary business?”) to deeper dives into sales, marketing, online operations and more.    

The goal, again, was to form a clear picture of the current motorsports retail scene based on a thoughtful collection and piecing together of reliable data.

Some of our findings were to be expected. For example, racing retailers’ two biggest markets, according to our respondents, are street/strip and drag racing. The next largest—stock cars—came in a distant third, with modifieds and road racers rounding out the top five. Really not much different than recent years’ tallies.

And when it comes to their biggest business challenge, the stories we’ve been hearing from speed shop owners, engine builders, fabricators, race teams and tuners over the last 12 months were confirmed in our survey: that the shortage of skilled labor is still very much a concern. So no real surprise there, either.

But then things started to get interesting. For example, we learned that some 90 percent of retail businesses in 2018 either grew or maintained their sales volume from the previous year; and another 95 percent expect increased or steady sales in 2019.

We also discovered that nearly half of all responding businesses actually buy product online for re-sale; ironically, though, only 15 percent of those same businesses told us that customers typically place orders through their companies’ websites.

In terms of marketing and promotion, there’s still no substitute for word of mouth. But social media has now vaulted ahead of sponsorships and websites as racing businesses’ second most effective method for raising awareness of their products and services. And speaking of websites, these days only half the companies we surveyed even have one for their business; of those that don’t, most said they either lack the time, budget or computer skills needed, or simply don’t see the value in it.

Additional information revealed how often racing businesses visit their local tracks; where they ship products; the benefits they offer employees; and much more.

So I invite you to have a look at our exclusive report—with informative charts and graphs, and some great insight by contributor Jeff Zurschmeide—to see where the motorsports industry stands, how your business measures up, and how exactly it fits into today’s big picture.

        

About the Author
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Dan Schechner is the Editor of Performance Racing Industry Magazine.
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