By Chad Simon
World Motorsports Offers First-Class Service for a Premium Product
World Motorsports recently expanded and renovated their 13,000-sq.-ft. facility in Torrance, California.
World Motorsports started in the high-performance automotive business as a race team for Toyota in 1999. Chris Rado and Craig Paisley were both Toyota factory-sponsored drag racers, and Rado later continued to road race under Scion factory sponsorship. Since 2013, under the direction of Rado and Paisley, the company has specialized in fabricating, manufacturing, selling and installing products for luxury European cars, including Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Located in a 13,000-sq.-ft. facility in Torrance, California, with 11 employees, World Motorsports has recently expanded the size of its shop by 3,060 sq. ft.
SEMA News caught up with Paisley to learn more about the business philosophy that has led to the retailer’s success.
SEMA News: What services do you provide, and to whom do you cater?
Craig Paisley: We actually come from a background of working on Japanese cars. We now target European cars because we feel that there’s a lot less competition, and consumers are less price-driven in that industry segment. I saw that people were starting to have the same enthusiasm for European cars as they had for Japanese cars in the mid-’90s, and we wanted to take advantage of that. The European market has grown over the years, whereas the Japanese market grows, but it doesn’t grow vertically. There’s more competition, more price discounting and less profit margins. I looked at the European market as a segment that offered me more opportunities.
SN: How have you been able to grow the business?
CP: Over the past three years, we’ve focused on developing a sales-based, income-generating business. We’ve made high-performance parts for Mercedes-Benz, including exhaust components, ECU tuning stuff and intercooler kits. We are now trying to drive traffic into our repair shop, which was originally for Mercedes-Benz, but now we’re open to all makes and models to try to generate more revenue.
We also manufacture and market titanium lug nuts and lug bolts, which cover 90% of cars with the 20 SKUs we sell. That’s been successful, especially with the Porsche market. We’re diving into our first attempt at print advertising in a long time to go after the Porsche market.
We’ve recently added a dyno with a high-speed wind tunnel, which is enclosed in a soundproof room. The airflow through the room will match the speed of the car on the dyno, so it will truly simulate the car driving down the road. The dyno is going to be our main marketing tool to try to bring more retail customers into our business.
|World Motorsports manufactures and installs products for luxury European cars.||World Motorsports also manufactures and markets titanium lug nuts and lug bolts. The company covers 90% of cars with the 20 SKUs it sells.|
|The company targets European cars, such as Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, because there’s less competition and consumers aren’t as price-driven.||A recently added dyno is going to be the company’s main marketing tool to try to attract more retail customers.|
SN: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced and risks you’ve taken?
CP: The biggest risk was deciding that we were going to be the smart guys and make money by building race cars. Not many people survive. We became involved when it was a good time to be involved. Sometimes you get lucky on your timing, and there was a lot of money thrown at us in the sport. We’re always trying new things to see what sticks. Whatever doesn’t work, forget about it. Luckily, we’re a small business where we can calculate the risk. If we have an idea, we’ll invest some money and go for it.
SN: What draws customers to you?
CP: We have retail and wholesale sales and service customers. On the sales side, my wholesale customers are other shops. I don’t wholesale other people’s products like most people do. We wholesale only products that we manufacture ourselves. That way I can control the pricing and give the company a better deal. I look for good customers who will support the product line.
Our retail customers come from word of mouth. We talk to people in online forums, and the car dealers send some customers to us. On the products we make, it’s all driven to us through the forums. Porsche is opening a Porsche Experience Center right down the street from us. It’s going to have a road-race course, challenge course and skid pad. Hopefully when that opens, we’ll be able to take advantage of some relationships there as well.
SN: What would you say are your top business practices?
CP: Our top business practice is supplying the parts that we manufacture at the best available pricing with the fastest possible delivery. If we tackle a product that we can’t get right, or we find that we cannot build the product better than our competition, then we just decide it is not a product that we will sell until we can get it right. Sometimes that takes a new piece of equipment or adding personnel, but we always strive to make the best product.
SN: To what do you attribute the success you’ve had so far?
CP: Customer service. Whatever the customer needs, whatever the problem is, don’t even question it; just take care of it. I know how quickly bad word of mouth can travel. We’re going to charge a premium price for a premium product, so it’s important for me to give premium service at the same time. Customer service has got to be the backbone for everyone in this business.
We’re not price-oriented; I don’t try to challenge customers to find the cheaper price. The only way I can get these customers is to provide something beyond the price incentive. How you deal with the customer is the most important aspect of that. For instance, we include shipping on every product we make under our two brands, World Motorsports and Rado Power—a Mercedes-Benz line of performance parts—and I have everything in stock. I’ve had a 100% order fill rate for the past three years.
SN: How do you train your staff to support your customer-service philosophy?
CP: I have a staff made up of different personalities. You have to learn how to handle these personalities for what they’re good for and team the right people together. When a customer comes into the shop, I try to meet them initially and figure out how their personality may work with one of our employees.
The most important thing is to follow through. If someone calls with a question, respond in a timely manner. It’s unbelievable how many times you get back to them and they are so appreciative because they’re not used to people doing that. It’s some of the simplest things that make a big difference.
SN: What differentiates you from competitors?
CP: We have unique products, we have nice equipment and tools that some other shops don’t have, and we make all that equipment available for other shops to use at a wholesale rate. We’re looking to be partners with everybody instead of competitors.
SN: How do you earn repeat customers?
CP: We try to over-deliver on customer expectations. We offer further products after what they’ve initially purchased to take the car to the next level.
We’re not a very busy operation. We’re small and streamlined and would rather go after the quality, higher-ticket item. We are definitely changing direction where we’re going after a larger volume of business now, but that’s something that’s in the works, and we’re going to market that side of the business. Most of the jobs we do, about 75% of them, can be in and out in one day.
Our service center has a client lounge, which is fully equipped with TVs, Internet access, driving video games, couches and a kitchen so that our customers can feel right at home while we are taking care of their cars. The $10,000–$20,000 ticket builds we can have done in four or five days.
SN: Why did you decide to attend the Australia Business Development Conference with SEMA?
CP: Half of our business is international. I went to Australia because we have already had some limited sales to Australia. We have sold products from our Mercedes-Benz line of tuning parts and our titanium lug-bolt and lug-nut line, so I went to promote the titanium business. My goal was to get dealers interested in the product and to sign up a distributor to support this product line. It also gave me a good opportunity to learn a little bit about marketing to Australia firsthand.
SN: What advice would you offer to retailers to hone their businesses?
CP: Test the market with any products or services that you plan to offer. I suggest figuring out what products and services work well for you and then run with that and invest money once you know you have something that can be successful. Don’t assume that because you have the vision that something is great means the rest of the world will have the same vision. Don’t throw good money after bad money.