October marks the 10th anniversary of Performance Business magazine—a milestone we never could have reached without the help of all the great readers, clients and industry friends we’ve met along the way.
No one knew exactly where we were headed back in 2003 when we debuted our premiere issue focusing on drifting (some people called it Drift Racing back then!), exhaust products and cold-air intakes. The goal was simply to become an established part of this great market we all love so much, and we were willing to work as long and as hard as it took to make it happen.
Recently I’ve spent some time going through the hundreds of articles we’ve published over the years. The original idea was to put together a retrospective piece highlighting the changes in the market during the last decade. But instead, I found some common themes that remain as true today as they were back when we started.
As a trade publication dedicated to the success of all performance professionals, here are our top 10 business tips for shops aiming to stick around for the next 10 years—just like we are:
1. Have a Business Plan—Our good friend Dick Dixon, who we miss dearly, often wrote about the importance of a business plan to a small shop’s long-term success. He used to say that businesses that know what they are and where they are headed usually get there.
2. Diversify—Whether you’re a general-purpose speed shop or you specialize in a specific make, model or racing series, it never hurts to expand your offerings. The goal is to be able to say “yes” to the next customer who comes through your door, whatever their request may be.
3. Promote Yourself—It seems many performance professionals want to be become an underground success. But why keep your shop a secret, when there’s more business to be had? Splash your name on your store walls, race cars, Internet forums, social media, the local track or anywhere your customers or potential customers are looking.
4. Pursue Fair Pricing—That means fair to customers and to you! You offer a professional service that’s in demand, in an industry that values quality. Charge accordingly, and feel good about it.
5. Talk, Then Work—Avoid problems later by going over work with clients before you start. How will this new piece affect the vehicle’s performance? Appearance? Efficiency? Durability? Even if it seems obvious, you want to avoid surprises.
6. Plan the Package—Successful shops don’t sell just one item to one customer one time. Building on #5, an aftermarket upgrade will likely affect the performance of a stock part somewhere else on a vehicle. Be sure you offer a solution for that as well.
7. Keep Learning—Trade shows, suppliers, manufacturer’s reps, webinars, training guides—there are many resources you can rely on to stay current in this fast-changing industry. Use them.
8. Get Involved—Participate in local social and charitable events, or host your own. This industry is based on relationships, so make sure customers see you as a caring member of their community.
9. Keep In Touch—It’s not likely your customers’ passion for performance is going to go away anytime soon. Make sure they think of you each and every time they are in the market for something needed to go fast. Send them emails, texts, birthday cards or coupons to stay top of mind.
10. Have Fun—Maybe this should have been listed first, but I put it last so it stays with you. This is a great industry with terrific people, so make sure you enjoy it. As Mike Ring of Ringbrothers says, “we’re not curing cancer here.” It’s the performance aftermarket, and for 10 years now, we’re glad we’re a part of it.