Monday, December 26, 2005

The Business of Champ Car II

Origially posted here last February;

I hate to belabor the business aspect of racing but there is so little written about it. I feel it is good to get some of the little known business points out so that the fans can understand how racing, especially open wheel racing, can be made to work in this country.

I know it probably doesn’t make the most exciting reading but I feel strongly about what I write. So here goes my first attempt to communicate to CCWS some of the things I can see from the outside that are lacking in the CCWS racing business.

CCWS has an opportunity to get this organization grounded and take it to greater heights than ever before and it all starts with sound business practices. As we wrap up the season it is time to review some of these areas.

In Don Sklenka’s September 9th Champweb.net article “Now I Rant” he makes an excellent point about Champ Car’s lack of a mission statement. Mission statements are very easily made and as Don said, they describe a business in terms that anyone can understand. They also can be used to advertise and promote a product or business. Mission statements are not long complex paragraphs about the business but are brief one line statements. A good mission statement should be something the business can be passionate about and should be of such a length that can be hand written on the back of the average size business card.

One of my favorites is “The Best Care in the Air”, the mission statement of a popular airline. Doesn’t that conjure up all kinds of good thoughts when you hear it? If you are familiar with that airline you would agree that they drive their business to that statement. This is what Champ Car must do.

They could have a mission statement contest among the employees or online, to draw in all of the good ideas that would come from all over. One I might suggest would be “The Best Racing on Earth” or some variation of that.

Ok, when the statement is set and approved what do they do with it? Put it on every business card, display it proudly in the office, make flags and banners to be displayed at every event, make sure it is seen and heard in each and every media touch to name a few. I know this has been an extraordinarily busy year for the owners and I applaud them for salvaging the series but now it’s time to review fundamentals of the business to assure it is well grounded going forward.

Anyone had an opportunity to communicate directly with CCWS to voice an opinion about the series or maybe a particular event or incident lately? I would guess very few, if any, have. Wouldn’t you think it would be important to the company to know how they are doing with customer satisfaction?

Customer satisfaction is not limited to the fans that empty their wallets at the events but also all of the sponsors. The average fan simply doesn’t have much chance of getting an opinion heard short of expressing dissatisfaction by not attending the events and there’s been of a lot more of that happening the last few years than should have. So how do you find out if you are satisfying the customer? It’s simple….. ask! One good way is to take a survey. We get them all of the time and we mostly ignore them but occasionally we do fill one out, especially if we have an annoying issue with the company that sent it.

Carefully planned and executed surveys can be very revealing and when properly interpreted can greatly enhance a product or service. The information can also be misinterpreted as in the case of a large automaker where a survey revealed customer dissatisfaction with the “fit of the door” in a particular model. The engineers spent hundreds of hours trying to improve the fit of the door when in the end it was actually the sound the door made when closing that was being misinterpreted by the owners as poor fit.

Surveys alone won’t solve all evils but they sure can help. It’s doubtful that CCWS has anyone expert in surveys so I suggest they explore the opportunity to have one professionally done. If we get a 1.5 million at the gate next season, each one getting a survey and have the survey on the web site there could be 150 to 200 thousand respondents.

So what do you do with the information gathered? Sort it into categories that can be easily managed. There will be things that are actionable and things that are not. There will likely be some excellent suggestions that haven’t been thought of before as well as many that have.

Now it’s time for another plan, not the business plan I have heard Paul Gentilozzi refer to, and thank god that fundamental is in place, but an improvement plan driven by the new mission statement. Survey results are not worth the paper written on if they are left on someone’s desk or filed away in a drawer. They must be a part of the improvement plan. An improvement plan should include all action items for improving the series. The improvement plan should include a mechanism for grading each item in the plan going forward. This will allow for easy recognition of what is working and what is not rather than relying on anecdotal information which is mostly useless. As time passes the plan should be reviewed and modified to fit new situations as they arise and follow up surveys or other means of getting customer satisfaction input is included.

The voice of the fan just might be the best tool CCWS can employ. Please CCWS be proactive and consider these fundamental business practices for the betterment of our beloved series.

Bill Sheets © Copyright 2004

WickerBill Sez;

Well CCWS did a masterfull job of bringing the series back to life in 05 and I admit my suggestions for the businesss may have been a bit premature. However I still believe that if implemeted the pratices would yeild very positive results. So for 06 I let's implement the one that I think would have the greatest impact and probably cost the least.........the mission statement. Please CCWS get this done!

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