Monday, May 14, 2007

NASCAR Is Ignoring Their Roots!

For those that are interested, I am still in love with my Sirius Radio, and in particular most of the programming on the NASCAR channel 128. I work retail, and manage multiple stores, which means I am on the road a bunch, going from store to store. This radio and the NASCAR channel are my sanity-savers, providing me with entertainment to survive the traffic jams.

During today's drive, I heard once again another fan call in, and declare "NASCAR is ignoring their roots, and the fans who made them!" I shook my head, pulled into a parking place and headed into work. Within the hour, I had a SHAZZAM moment!

Our company recently changed our merchandise and our selling strategy. Some of our customers arrived in our stores expecting to find the same merchandise they had found for the last 20 years. Many customer have embraced our change, but other have been shocked, dismayed and one declared "Your company has ignored the people who made them!" Wow....SHAZZAM! DEJA VU!

NASCAR has been doing something that all SUCCESSFUL businesses do. They constantly perform 'gut-checks' to see how they measure up. Are they reaching their audiences? Are they saturating their customer base? Are they working towards the future?

And that last question is indeed the most important question.

The NASCAR fans who attended North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, and the original Southern 500 at Darlington, for some reason, stopped attending those races. The attendance was falling every year. Indeed, the warning signs were there. Even when the ax was hanging over the heads of those tracks, the fans still did not fill the stands.

NASCAR traditionalists LOVE picking on Fontana's two races. Yet even with the appearance of lowered attendance, the stands had more fans parked in the seats than at any of the above tracks on their best days.

NASCAR has also tried to move with the times. The Championship race is boring? Well then, let's make it into a CHASE. Fans complain of a lack of passing at the 1.5 mile tracks? Gee, the COT may help that.

FACE IT! If a business does not change with the times, it will die. The customers in my retail store were content and happy to show up for the holidays, but were not there every day, or every week. Our business model changed and while we have upset some of the previous customer base, we have created new customers. Will we make bad decisions? Yes! But we would have tumbled into oblivion if we had not changed. We would have died as a business.

The harsh reality? You MUST continually build your business. Living in the past will put your business into the grave, along with your aging fan (customer) base. Change is necessary. There may be failures, but the greatest crime is to fail to try.

One other side to the argument is that NASCAR is not successful with it's changes. I really don't believe that. While the 'ratings' are going down, NASCAR is still the highest rated sport on most weekends. They are still switching and playing and tweaking to create more interest, and to build the fan base for the future.

Is NASCAR making mistakes with those changes? Oh, yes, they are! But are they sitting on their collective butts just waiting for the former fan base to come wandering!

However, I do understand the yearning for the good old days. I remember my first calculator...and am saddened that this danged newfangled computer is messing up my life. Dang, I long for the old Texas Intruments doodad that cost me $160 bucks. Or the TRS-80 Model 1 computer with 4K of memory! Or, I could go searching for the ten minute blurb of the NASCAR race mixed in with the rest of the Wide World of Sports. Well, TV has obviously forgotten its roots if it shows the whole race! Then again, we could go back to transistor radios, black and white television or even refrigerators that were really iceboxes. Yoicks!

Wait, the $160 TI calculator and the TRS-80 are long gone. Would any of this blog's readers REALLY want to go back to those days?

Neither would NASCAR.