As a dedicated fan of the NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Racing) Sprint Cup Series, I continuously follow the success and failures of the top teams. Also being a business fan, NASCAR is my “perfect storm”.
Racing is big business. It takes millions of dollars to campaign a race team for a complete season and there’s lots to learn about buisness from the winning teams.
Over at NASCAR.com, I just toured the new fabrication shop at Stewart-Haas Racing, home of driver-owner, Tony Stewart.
For ten years, Stewart was a contracted driver, employed by Joe Gibbs Racing. This year, he partnered with Haas CNC Racing (an insignificant team that has yet to win a Spint Cup race) and launched his own team. Everyone knew he would be successful, but no one (not fan nor expert) expected the level of success he has achieved this, his first year.
Currently, Tony Stewart is running second in points. His second car, driven by teammate Ryan Newman, is eighth (the top twelve drivers qualify for The Chase – NASCAR’s version of the playoffs). Not a bad start, but if you ask Tony, I’m sure he’d tell you that he’s right on schedule. Everything he knows about running a race team, he learned from his former boss and mentor, Joe Gibbs (yes, the former head coach of the Washington Redskins – he’s also the owner of one of the most successful teams in NASCAR racing history).
When you watch the video, pay close attention to these five fast facts and you’ll be winning in short order too.
Hire the Best People
Ask Joe Gibbs the secret to his success and he’ll tell you that its all about his people. He hires the best he can find. When Stewart built his team, from scratch, he spoke those same words. He has assembled a core of dedicated passionate people that are the best in the business.
Build a Friendly, Passionate Work Environment
Every member of the Stewart-Haas team featured in the video is happy. The culture of the team and the environment in which they work allows for complete dedication and focus on the ultimate goal of winning. They have the tools they need and a world class facility in which to work. They are clearly passionate about what they do and are encouraged to have fun doing it.
Systems and Process
Much like building a house, fabricating race cars requires thousands of important decisions. Make one mistake or skip a step and Tony will have no chance of winning (or worse). Notice the checklist taped to the quarterpanel of each race car. As each task is completed, its checked off the list. Before the car leaves the shop, the list is done and the car chief signs off. Nothing missed and full accountability.
Clean, Organized Workspace
Check out that shop. The floors are spotless. The place looks like a surgical suite. Clean and organized.
Working Toward a Common Mission
Every member of the team… Every employee… Every sponsor. They are all working toward the same simple goal. To win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. What is your firm’s mission? Is it clearly communicated to your team?
UPDATE (05-16-2009): Tony Stewart won the 25th Annual Sprint Cup All Star Race and collected $1,000,000.00 for doing it.