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We’re Not Unlike NASCAR

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Well, I guess that’s not really the way the saying goes, but it occurred to me on my recent trip to Charlotte that it could be. I occasionally have the opportunity to write a column on my travels and that is the case this month. I was heading to North Carolina to see the folks at NASCAR and thought to myself, “I wonder what parallels racing has to our industry?”

I realize our industry has many ties and and a lot of history. But are there any direct connections between what you and I do every day and what these teams go through to campaign a race car? I decided to investigate the possibilities with a trip to Joe Gibbs Racing. The folks at Gibbs were gracious enough to agree to my visit. 

When I arrived, I was immediately struck with the level of cleanliness and professionalism that permeated the operation. Organization and logical shop flow was very apparent. Each area was designated for a specific task and each area was spotless. And I am not talking shop spotless, I am talking surgical spotless. In fact, I could have been in an operating room. The only difference was team members were in team garb instead of scrubs.

The second thing that hit me was the sense of a common goal that was present. It was very clear that going fast in order to win was the goal here. These shops are clearly on the bleeding edge of pushing a vehicle to its outer limits. Of course, it is all done with an almost uncanny amount of promotion and marketing panache. It’s all about giving the sponsors and the fans the best show possible.

So what’s the parallel? Well, in the distribution business it’s all about speed to market. Technicians want their parts in 30 or less. They want the right part and they want to feel value. That all kind of sounds like what I saw at Joe Gibbs Racing. Even if you service the DIY market, the customers expect many of the same things. They want a sharp-looking environment, knowledgeable staff for advice and want it all handled quickly and at a value price point.

I think we can all take a lesson from the boys in North Carolina. Keep it neat, do it fast, give them a great value and make them feel special.

Thanks again to our hosts at Joe Gibbs Racing. See you on the track.


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