Kentucky Speedway Teaches a Valuable Lesson

I had a great time down in Louisville, KY, the weekend of July 9. Saw friends from GIE+EXPO management, Ferris/Snapper PRO and Ariens/Gravely, along with a few strong area equipment dealers. We had some great conversation about the Green Industry and where it's going, not to mention the GIE+EXPO that's held every October in Louisville. The "main event" of this trip was a 60-mile bus trek north to the tiny town of Sparta, the site of Kentucky Speedway which played host to a NASCAR weekend for the first time in a long time. The locals were stoked. But when it was all said and done, thousands were disappointed. Kentucky Speedway had made all of the necessary renovations in order to accommodate the typical NASCAR crowd of more than 100,000. As a result, NASCAR decided to come back. Kentucky Speedway sold out the big Sprint Series Cup race on Saturday night (July 9), attracting an estimated 107,000 racing fans. In other words, they "sold" the event. Problem was, the traffic/parking situation was a logistical nightmare. Vehicles sat idle on the interstate some 10 miles from the track for hours on end. Our friends from Ferris/Snapper PRO actually turned around and left once the race had advanced into the 100-lap range. Fortunately, our bus driver used his gps to locate some narrow country back roads in order to get us to the Speedway. Kudos to Rick for having the creativity and courage to make it happen! We were so lucky and thankful. Thousands and thousands of other ticket holders still idling on the interstate weren't so lucky. Many were reportedly told to just go home; there was no parking space left for them near the track. Watching this scenario unfold reminded me of something. I get a lot of emails from landscapers and dealers who "want to know how to grow their companies." It's important to remember that you have to do more than network and market and sell. You also need a plan to deliver. Things can unravel as quickly as they grew if you don't meet customer expectations. Today, those expectations are extraordinarily high. The first thing you should do if you want to grow your company is take stock of your people. Do you have the right people to "over-deliver" on customer expectations? Are you doing the right things as an owner to inspire, empower and create a culture of accountability? Those are the things you need to perfect before you ever think about taking on more work or expanding. Don't leave your customers sitting idle on the interstate. Bad word of mouth spreads fast, and today's consumers aren't so anxious to award second chances. ~Gregg Wartgow, editor in chief

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