Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Industry Trade Group

Can you think of one industry that has no representative trade group or association to help its members discuss common business issues and identify and resolve common problems? Bet you can't.

A few months ago, I was up late watching CNN and a locally produced commercial came on. It was a 15 second spot purchased by the Northern Arizona Chinese Food Restaurant Association. I was dumbfounded! How was it possible that such non-descrypt businesses such as the Chinese Food Restaurant owners in Northern Arizona could be so well organized while the owners in the auto racing and high performance driving school industry had remained without such an organization for over 40 years now.

Quite simply, the answer is that most racing school owners feel threatened by their piers in one way or another. Larger schools don't want their brands associated with smaller operators fearing that associating with the lesser schools could negatively impact their images. Smaller operators just don't want to spend the time, money or energy necessary to implement such a beneficial organization. In the end, the economies of scale that could come from belonging to such an association are lost on everyone.

Several times a year, I hear owners complaining to me about the excessively high cost of track rental rates and their unwillingness to recognize the beneficial value the school operators bring to these facilities with their frequent visits. I hear about the lack of choices in insurance related matters. I hear owners lament about their inability to identify potential buyers for their businesses. The list goes on and on.

Regrettably, despite years of efforts to bring the auto racing school owners community together under one organization or association, our industry remains without common representation. This frustrates me as I have seen many instances when such an association would have benefited many of its members. Without a convenient forum for racing school owners to share their views and concerns with their colleagues, we are each left to solve problems that are much more difficult to correct alone than if multiple members put their heads together to figure out potential solutions.

NAARSA, the North American Auto Racing School Association was originally formed over 7 years ago to try to bring these independent businessmen to the table. Although a few owners were eager to join, most rejected the invitation without ever citing any reasons for staying out. Although any association that's been around for some years will attest to experiencing disagreements within its membership from time to time, the meer willingness to come together once or twice a year to discuss common issues seems like a no brainer. Apparently, it isn't that simple.

If you are an auto racing school or driving experience business owner, let me know how you feel about this subject and write me to share your thoughts. As a 20+ year veteran of this industry, I am curious to know what motivates you as an entrepreneur and how you think your business can flourish within the industry without ever coming in contact with your competition other than through hearing rumors and innuendo.

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