racing asked me to give a dinner presentation to a group of young race
drivers. "Tell them what you learned as a business executive that can
help them mount a successful racing effort," my friend requested. As I
thought about it, I realized that while my business career, training
and education had taught me a lot about business tactics, management
skills and marketing strategies, that same business experience left out
the most important training of all: How to build a successful team.
Contrary to what my retired race driver friend had thought, it wasn’t
my business education or experience that taught me how to be
successful, it was my race team experience in my twenties that taught
me how to be win championships in the business world.
Following is the message I communicated to those race drivers, but
today, instead of talking racing, I am talking about YOUR business.
“If you’re here to learn from me how to win a race, don’t waist my
time. ANYBODY can win one race. All you need to do is have the
biggest budget, be lucky, have the fastest car (this week) or be the
fastest driver(today). But, if you really want to be successful, the
true measure is winning a championship. You can’t just be lucky ONCE.
You can’t just have the fastest car or be the fastest driver (this
week). You need to be the best over and over again, for the entire
season. And that can only be done by having the best team. A team that
is absolutely committed to winning the championship.”
So how does that relate to your auto repair or parts business? Well, anyone can have:
A big sales day, just by cutting the prices(until someone else matches
them) and lots of people start a business spending big bucks on
advertising and promotion (until the have spent it all) and many small
business owners have personal talents that the customers love(until
growth results in the owner not being able to handle every customer
himself). Each of those things can result in a short burst of business
success (wins). But to be a business “champion”, you need to have
consecutive years of business success (winning business seasons). Just
like those race drivers I spoke with, to be successful in your
business, you need a business team that is absolutely committed to
winning the championship.
I explained to the Indy car drivers, that what I learned about building a committed and strong team (race or business), is this:
It’s all about pride.
I read once, but unfortunately can’t recall where, that "Pride is the
fuel of human accomplishment’ and that ‘competition is the spark
plug." So, if you want a committed race team or a business staffed
with a team of people committed to YOUR business success, you simply
need two things:
First a team full of people who are proud to be part of that team and of what they can accomplish.
Second Some other company or “thing” for your business team to
compete against. Having pride and being part of a team is not
motivating for many people in the long haul. So, to get the most out
of team pride, you need something for the team to compete against
The methodology and techniques to achieve the above are simple and fun to implement.
To build the PRIDE, remember that RECOGNITION builds pride. As the
owner or manager of the race team or business, be vigilant in praise
for the individual’s effort and contribution to the team. “Man was
that a great sales call you made or what? “Wow, there is no one else in
the business that could have given the kind of customer service you
did!” “That car owner is gonna love the way you made her car run!”
“Your product display is the best ever – incredible!”
Selecting a competitor for your team to beat is simple, but key. It
can be a person (Fred the owner of “Fred’s Garage”) or it can be a
company (Low $ Auto Imports, Inc.) or even the economy (While the
economy is slow, let’s take customers from our competition, so they get
laid off instead of us). By picking a common enemy, a competitor for
your team to focus on beating, you ignite the competitiveness in each
of the team members so that they can accomplish more.
For the long term, as the race driver, team manager, business owner or
manager, your biggest job is to continue to build pride, through
recognition, with comments like “Our team whipped the competition
because, Suzie did a great…., George made a fantastic…. Armando
delivered the best…. Together, you all are the greatest team I could
My car racing experience followed by years of business experience has
proven to me that the above process grows on it’s self as the team
gains even more pride, then accomplish more, then get prouder, then go
after bigger competitors, accomplishing more and growing the individual
and team pride to unexpected heights. By the way, someone on such a
successful, championship winning business team is virtually impossible
for a competitor to recruit.
So to sum up what I taught the Indy Car drivers that night at dinner many years ago, the secret to your success is:
Accomplishment through team work.
Team work fueled by pride
Pride built with recognition
Focusing the team on beating a common competitor
Now, go win your business championship.
Dave Caracci is a certified diesel mechanic, an ex-racing engine builder and holds a
bachelors degree in business from Northwood University. Caracci
spent the past 30 years as a Sales and Marketing executive for
aftermarket manufacturers. His aftermarket experience ranges from General Sales Manager for the
DANA aftermarket division, then General Manager / Vice President
Safeguard Engine Parts to President of World Wide Sales, Marketing and
Distribution ROL manufacturing and finally as Vice President of the
aftermarket division of Robert Bosch Corp were he retired in April of ’05.
For fun and to fill the empty time slots in life Caracci has been a
“racer” for 40 years. First as a car racer where he drove to a Florida
Region championship and then as crew chief when he and his partner won
a SCCA formula car national championship in the 1980s. Later as a
Yacht racer he and his wife won every championship in their class on
western Lake Erie.
Currently enjoying retirement, competition in business or the race
course is what Caracci continues to thrive on as he works on marketing
projects with various aftermarket clients, writes for Babcox
Publications and teaches internet aftermarket courses for Northwood