Okay, It’s time to get serious about your race program and start treating it like a “Business”. That means Business Plan, Marketing Strategy and Mission Statements.
Let’s talk about your Mission Statement.
Sure you want to win races, but is that all you want out of your Motorsports Career? Is that your Mission? I sure hope not!
There is a lot more to winning that makes a Race Team successful. Just look at the top Drivers in the sport, NASCAR for example. Take a page out of their playbook and run your race team like a business. Every business needs a Mission – it’s the foundation from which they set, plan, and achieve their short term and long term goals. It gives a company “heart” and “soul”. Your mission says a lot about you. This can even make or break a Sponsorship deal, contest winner or being a recipient of a race Scholarship.
The definition of a Mission Statement is: a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, Organization or individual. Easy enough, right. I’m sure you have a governing “policy” for your family that includes everyone’s values and beliefs especially since you have children in the household. At the very least you have a set of principals and faith based guidelines that you live by, right? Well, that’s what will make up your Mission Statement. Your Values and the goals you have for your Driver’s race career and for your Race Team as a whole. I just want you to formalize it and put it into writing.
This goes right in line with Marketing your Driver for Success that I often talk and blog about. So it’s time to sit down and have a meeting with your team and discuss your Mission. Yes, this needs to be done as a group effort and it needs to be written down. Here’s a blog post on Forbes that talks about why it’s important to write your goals down. I realize a lot of this is very business centered, but that’s my point – you need to treat your Race Team more like a business to give yourselves an edge over the competition and set yourself on the right path for future and ongoing success. A lot of my research and advice is based on top business trends, long-held policies and procedures of other successful businesses, modeling successful Race Teams and Drivers, studying case studies sanctioned by leading business journals and websites on various topics, my own live and learn experiences as well as those of others over the course of 20 years in sport. Along my journey I was a Race Parent just like you, and I had had some major fails with my oldest daughter, Amber, but then many major successes with my youngest daughter Kaley. Kaley in turn has been one of the best teachers I’ve had who has Coached me with a true passion and respect for the sport. So if she writes her plans down for successful execution intentions then I know it’s something that you should be doing too.
Have you read KAM’s Mission yet? It’s under “About KAM” on the bottom menu navigation bar of our website for all the world to see. Here it is:
To act and learn to treat others with honor, dignity, and respect for improved sporting alliances and better relationships with family, friends and associates in addition to learning, teaching, and promoting the sport of karting with emphasis on safety, good sportsmanship and fun for the entire family.
We also go a step further and list our Chore Values and our Goals. These are our guidelines that help us run the businesses and sets us on the right path for accomplishing what we set out to do many years ago while giving us the flexibility to adapt our Values and Goals with others in the industry for the betterment of our racing community. It gives us structure and and accountability. We have developed a great sense of pride in our Racing for a Cause initiative that has grown from our Mission. Don’t think your team needs any of this Mission, Values or Goals gibberish? You are just out to win races and collect trophies? Well, I can tell you from experience that winning early in a career and amassing trophies will not guarantee any form of success. If you don’t believe me just look at and model your team/career path after any number of the Top Professional Race Car Drivers in the Country. Let’s take Kyle Larson for example since he is not only the Hot Superstar in racing today, but he came up through Outlaw Karting and built his Driver Development and career Path in Dirt Karts just like you are doing (or plan to do). His parents had a business plan from the start and followed it as they Coached and taught Kyle to be “Marketable for Motorsports“. They, as a team and along with the help of their race community, worked their plan and set and adjusted goals along the way. They instilled values in him and the team and his Brand was rock solid from an early age on up until being selected as a driver for NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity program – which was his big break into NASCAR. Now his career is handled by big-wig professionals, but he wouldn’t have gotten their if it weren’t for his parents making the right choices from the start.
I you have a written plan and goals, then you will more likely to follow the right path to success. Even Kaley writes down her goals and a plan of action before big race events and almost always executed right on target when she did.
Still not sure where to start with writing your Mission?
- ‘Not giving up’ could be one element of your Mission, your mantra even. Everyone likes a good Underdog story. Embrace those moments and give them a good one. Make that part of your Mission statement.
- Also remember that learning your craft and mastering technique is vital to success. Touch on that in your Mission statement.
- Also, Racing to put on a good show for the fans could be another talking point. By the way, if you are not aware of it, your are in a sport that is focused on giving entertainment to the spectators. Not collecting trophies for Mom and Dad. Winning is not everything, and no one can win all the time (in the real world) if they are in a mutually competitive division with other drivers at or near their level of class mastery. If you are winning week after week then it’s time to move up to the next level and push your driver to learn new skills and techniques. The spectators are the most important element in Motorsports because they are needed to buy tickets and fill the stands. AND sponsors only care about Motorsports because of them, and the potential customer base they give their companies, and the resulting ROI. So think about your future “Fan Base” and how you can incorporate the Spectators/Fans into your Mission. Don’t get me wrong: trophies and Championship Titles are awesome – when they are won with hard work, determination and honest effort. But I have seen too many parents ruin their child’s race careers because their ‘Mission’ was just to collect them vs. learning and mastering the craft. I did it with my oldest child, so I know first hand.
- “Racing for a Cause” – what are you passionate about besides racing? Can you incorporate that into your race program? Michael Buck even got a sponsor out of his Racing for a Cause and is a proud supporter of women’s cancer awareness and research. Kaley is passionate about preventing suicide and hosts a Yellow Ribbon race each year at KAM to bring awareness to her cause. YES! I’ll be happy to incorporate your cause into the race program or theme of the night. Just ask & Lets talk. See how easy that was.
- Your Promise to your potential or future sponsors can be another focus. Let them know how passionate you are about becoming a Marketing Partner and your promise to help them with their business goals/needs.
- Don’t forget about your fellow racers. They are important too. Sure they are the “competitor”, but they are important to your Driver Development and you need the best most competitive drivers racing with you for your driver to get and be the best he/she can be. Not getting mad because another child beat your child is restraint that some parents lack, and maybe could have avoided if they had written a Mission or plan that addressed these issues and feelings. These kids actually push & help each other, and when Sportsmanship is number one focus and nurtured from the beginning, the drivers end up teaching and encouraging each other as they move up the ladder with their peers. [Teach your child to be the first one out of his kart and shaking the hands of those he just raced, even if they beat him!] Besides, without them, you don’t have a “RACE”. You have a “Drive”. Most anyone can drive in a circle. Heck my 2 year old Grandson can mash the gas and turn the wheel and make circles in his play jeep. No that’s not racing – Racing, by it’s very definition and purpose, requires other racers to compete with a FIELD of drivers “in a contest of speed on a set course, with set rules and guidelines, with a set time to achieve superiority”, in other words their best over-all finish in relation to the other competitors. Says nothing about WINNING.
- A top 3, or Podium Win is considered an achievement in Motorsports. A Hard Charger, someone who comes from the back and races his way to the front as they battle for each position gained, is considered a high achievement in Motorsports. Have your Mission and Goals reflect this with a something about focusing on learning opportunities. And while drivers are still learning and performing their craft at the karting level, they do get to display their skills and techniques as race car drivers for the audience (Your Target Fan Base), whether those fans are here in person or view it Live on Facebook or the next day on YouTube – you are still entertaining them.
- And it’s worth repeating – Sportsmanship should be a part of every drivers Mission statement, so start with that to get the ball rolling.
A word of caution: It’s easy to get caught up in the hoop-la and the celebrations of victory lane are like a drug, I know!! – but that can cause the best parents and drivers to lose focus and start making the biggest career mistakes on and off the track. It did me early on as a new race parent. Having a written statement about what and who you are and how you plan to get where you want to go is so important. This is the approach we took with Kaley’s racing vs what we did with our oldest daughter, Amber’s. Needless to say, Kaley enjoyed many more successes and experienced more opportunities while creating memories of a lifetime. Amber quit racing in frustration and still misses it and wonders what could have been….. It’s a sinking, sad feeling for me because I was in charge and just didn’t make the right choices or decisions. I’ll tell her story at a later time, it really is heartbreaking though, as a successful businesswoman on so many other levels, I helped ruin her racing career because I didn’t treat it like a business nor was I acting as her Coach.
Off topic but here’s my advice: Put the ego aside and let that Championship title go if it means wasting a year of critical Development and technical improvement to get it. I promise Drive 4 Diversity, or any other Driver Development program you are looking at, isn’t going to measure a Jr 1, Jr 2 Clone or Animal Class Championship, for example, higher than a consecutive series of top 3’s at highly competitive events or series’known for its competitive hardships such as large class sizes and high number of laps in the feature. They don’t even ask if you’ve won a Championship in karting and they don’t care how many trophies you have, but they do ask the class size and number of laps in the feature…..just saying. Those pictures of drivers with a career’s worth of trophies around them and their karts aren’t even acceptable in most cases. The Selection Committee wants a head shot and an on-track action shot in your car. That’s it. I’m not saying NOT to take those kid of pictures if you have a career’s worth of trophies, they do look good on your Hero Cards, Social Media and Website. Know who you are Marketing to. Your Mission and Goals should reflect this way of thinking – this is the way the big car and race team owners think. In fact a huge string of Championships year after year isn’t seen as a positive thing at all, and raises all kinds of red flags to them. Bottom line: They want someone who is “Coachable” in addition to Marketable. And yes of course, can win races for them. But if you didn’t spend time in your Driver Development phase learning every aspect of the sport and building skills and mastering techniques then how do you expect to win races at the higher, more competitive and professional level of racing? Read a related blog post about what team owners looked for in their drivers >>Click here.
Now are you ready to start writing that Mission Statement?
Okay, well here’s some more planning advice if you’re still not feeling it, or think this is too hard, or it’s not up your ally. Fist, I found this workbook online about a year ago and have been waiting for a good opportunity to share it with you. It will guide you and help you write your Mission! It is a really good workbook – so please don’t delay, and take a look at it today. Print it out and set a meeting with your family to go over some of the items discussed in the workbook. Take notes and think about what it is you want out of your racing program. Then write it down, print it off and frame it – or at the very least put it in a Team Binder where you keep your copy of the rules and chassis set up sheets. After all you are investing a lot of time and money into this sport, take it seriously. If it’s a professional race career in the future that you are seeking, then you need to take the next step and start treating your Race Team like a “business” now.
Now writing a Mission and developing Core Values or setting realistic goals will not pay off unless you follow them. The Mission is just one component in the overall success of your driver. Marketing your Driver, like I talk about all the time, is just serious business and just as important as winning races. Don’t let this slip by and parents need to develop and work out Marketing Plan – just like for any business success one would desire. Your child is too young to do this on his/ her own and they need your help. Don’t let them down because of pride or ego, or being being lazy, or procrastinating. Search your soul and dig deep. What do you want for your child, as well as what does he want for himself. This workbook should help you with that.
Why you should write your Mission today!
I think it will help any parent who is stuck on just winning, or taking Winner’s Circle victory pictures for bragging purposes, to step back and see the whole big picture. In my experience those parents are not being or teaching their children how to be “Marketable”. They tend to make enemies or track nemesis’s for their child, and at this level it does not help a child’s race career in the slightest. You may bask in the glory of victory and gloat all over social media about your child’s success right now, but it’s not going to last if you chose to go down that path and I don’t know any successful race car driver who did that, or who’s parents did that in the developmental stage of his/her career. Take a look around. The ones who make it to the pro’s where humble, honest and hardworking. They didn’t get things handed to them or made easy for them. Make it a part of your Mission to NOT take the easy road and make your child work for what they get. Ben Saye, Pierce Urbanosky and former drivers Payton Pierce and Anton Hernandez are good examples of drivers you could have your child emulate. Now I don’t know if they had written Mission Statements, but they each had excellent Driver Development programs with hardships and obstacles in their path and worked hard for what they achieved. They were all very good Sportsmen too with a deep faith that seemed to also be a part of their Missions.
So my Pro Tip to you is do a deep soul searching of what you want out of your race program in the long run, and committing yourself to being a Coach and to teaching the CRAFT with a focus on mastery of the class or division in common with fellow competitors – [and not as fierce rivalries where anything is fair game to win] – these things should set up the foundation of your Mission statement.
I may seem to harp on the topic of Driver Development, Marketing and career planning a lot, and some ignore or don’t even listen to my advice or read my posts, but If I’ve kept you reading this far just know that I say all this with love and concern for you and your child. You came to ME & Mike for your start in Racing (Megan & Kaley too). That means a lot to me and I ham honored, and I take it very seriously. I just want to help you make the best choices and the right decisions when it comes to your Child and his/her Driver Development, and the management of their race careers. I have 20+ years under my belt and had 3 children in karting and big cars too (one still races) and I’ve made a lot of the mistakes (A LOT!!) that I want to warn you about. I didn’t do some of the things that I suggest you do until maybe it was too late or with the 2nd or 3rd kid because it took me that long to learn a valuable lesson. So use me as your Coach or life example. I’ve been there on both ends: as the parent of a racer and an Industry leader in the racing community. I’m not going to steer you wrong. And just know, that if I touch on something that stings or hits a nerve, it’s not personal or meant in malice. It’s my experience and the experience of thousands of race families that came before you that I personally witnessed or interacted with. I try to take the good from those who are being successful in the sport (ie: still racing, making lifetime memories, creating strong family bonds and having fun, etc.) and the bad from those who failed miserably (ie: short careers, poor attitudes, not having fun, making horrible childhood memories, breaking family bonds, etc) and combine the best of the best with the most sound advice and give it to you, with stories and examples to make my point. Don’t think that I’m picking on anyone, because I will always use myself and my stupid mistakes as examples first and foremost at any time – and I do, just read some of my other blog posts.
It is my deepest desire for each and every one of my kids to have the Motorsports Career of their dreams. *Note, I said their dream, NOT your dream. There is a big difference and that too should be talked about during a family/team meeting and boundaries set and defined. I know first hand what it’s like for a child’s dream of NASCAR to take over a Parent’s hopes and wishes especially if they show early talent and potential, but most kids lose that fantasy along the way and their big end-goal is being a Sprint Car Racer or a Crew Chief for a big race team (my personal example: Kaley stopped dreaming of NASCAR and was dreaming about being a Sprint Car Team Owner and a Crew Chief career for her future while I was still pushing Drive 4 Diversity and NASCAR down her throat for over a year – she got fed up and all but quit racing just to get away from the stress I was creating for us. She just recently started racing again and got herself an Open Outlaw to compete with. I’m happy about that because I know she loves and is passionate about racing, but I have to ask myself: did I already screw up her chances of a Sprint Car Team or Crew Chief future? And yes, some even lose the racing desire all together, and that can be heartbreaking! I never thought Megan would stop racing, but becoming a Mother, having a family and getting involved in Youth Ministry became her new passions. She still helps us with the track and scores races because she loves it and loves the kids. She often helps drivers when they ask for her advice or input and she freely gives it. Even though her Mission changed we still made great memories and lifelong friends because of racing, and she’s still a part of the family business.
But that’s why you have to plan out your Mission statement and career path (ie: Driver Development) and have a “Plan B” ready and be ready to embrace your experience, even it it ends up being simply a Youth Sport that your child competed in or if karting is as far as he/she gets in Motorsports. There’s nothing wrong with that. Our adults love to kart race and enjoy the competition and fellowship they get from it. Also with the popularity of Outlaw 250 and the Open Outlaw class growing, kids can stay in karting longer and with more competitive reward and recognition. My advice is to stay in karting for as long as you can to really master racing techniques and develop skill sets.
One last story before I leave you on this…..Our family just had a similar meeting of the minds with regard to Cash, my grandson, and starting his race career. Oh, I’m so excited that I’ve already bought him a race suit, have a sponsor for his helmet, his kart chassis is on order – BUT the kid just doesn’t want to race. He says he “Can’t” and I take that to mean at some level he’s afraid to. But my family convinced me that I can’t push what I want onto him, and they of course are right. But I already knew that from experience. I’m human thought, and I see all these amazing kids coming into the sport, and our Young Gun class is so big and has lots of potential and I just don’t want him to miss that. He loves the races – watching them, and he loves his little friends that he’s made at the track. But being competitive on the track with them is just not something that appeals to him – yet, I still have hopes that he will come around. If I still lived back in my ego and pride from years ago, I would probably be saying to myself that “this doesn’t look good, the kart owners own Grandson not racing…” Or maybe, ‘He’s the same age as several of the new Young Guns drivers and he should be out driving them by now’. Yes, that would have been exactly how I felt and I would non-stop be trying to “bribe” or entice him into racing some way or another. I tell you my story because I want you to recognize in yourself if you are pushing your child too hard or too soon. The only way to really get the answer to that is to have your family/business meeting with the driver. I know that they are little kids, but racing is serious and you plan to put them in the seat of a motorized vehicle with intent to go as fast or faster than all the other kids on the track, and you expect them to learn this sport as they go, and the techniques required to operate a race vehicle at this rate of high speed while in a full throttle competition – SO If you have that much faith in them, then having a discussion about racing and what they want from it isn’t that hard to fathom. It makes sense to also keep your gauge on the level of dedication and determination over the years as they grow up in the sport to see if their goals or dreams have changed or may be starting to change. Every little kids wants to be a race car driver when they are asked or given the opportunity at the age of 4 thru 7, but as they get older it becomes a childhood fantasy that gets replaced by something else more often than you think. Remember what I said, have a Plan B ready to execute. I had one kid who was hell bent on becoming a NASCAR driver – that’s all he talked about, even won our Rookie of the Year – then left racing after a year in Mini-Sprints to pursue a Rodeo career. He recently just got his first 8 seconds on the bull, which I understand is a really big deal in Rodeo.
In conclusion (I know finally, right?!), be flexible and be willing to make changes as the need arises. Remember that this is your Child’s sport and race career, but you are the Coach and Team Owner so you have to put this in motion for them. They may be responsible for their own race program at some point in their race career, and they will thank you for putting them on the right path. They will also be ready for that call when the Selection Committee or Car Owner calls them to fill a spot on their team. [Okay one more Side Note: we do have talent scouts and car owners that have come to KAM to watch our drivers and scout for up and coming talent!!! Happens all the time, and several of our former drivers have gotten significant career starts with a couple of them. And they have all been drivers who followed a plan, had an extensive driver development program, great Sportsmanship and were “Coachable” and humble in their talents and skills. There, I just wrote your Mission Statement for you! lol]
I hope that I’ve inspired a least a few of you to get series about your “Business” (aka: Race Team) and at least write your a Mission statement. It will be a crucial element in your Marketing Strategies and help guide you to success in your Motorsports Career. If you have comments or questions along the way, please ask – I’m here for you! Post your Mission below or on Executive Speed Marketing’s FB page when you are done so we can all praise your accomplishment. Thanks for reading this extremely long post – I should have made it an Ebook, but I’m passionate about getting my parents set on the right path for the overall benefit of my KAM Kids and their racing careers and dreams. I want you to be “Living the Dream”!!