Kart Shop: Unless you are based at a track, no one cares about most of this. Give me a good website with reasonable pricing and fast shipping. That’s all I need out of my kart shop. I haven’t set foot in a brick and mortar kart shop in probably 5+ years.
Racing Team: I want arrive and drive, with knowledge of supported chassis brand. Also need in-house driving coaching tailored to your level (new kid all the way to seasoned vet looking for that last 0.1 sec). Unfortunately, for grumpy old guys like you and me, appearance matters. Those big tents with the branding and fancy shirts are very appealing to parents who want to be a part of “factory teams”.
I can do without shops as I have come up in karting without one near me. I’m used to team stuff instead.
For team stuff what I value most is my relationship with the team principal/manager/owner. I want someone that I know is gonna do his best to do right by me and will be honest about stuff, no puffery.
As someone who sells stuff for a living, I can say that thimg about us sales people is that it is not uncommon for sellers to not provide the entire picture, to perhaps withhold information to close a sale. This pisses me off to no end. Pull that shit with me and you have a one-time customer as opposed to a client. Treat me right and I’ll pay you full retail no questions asked if I see the value in what you bring to me and my program.
If there’s a problem I want it upfront and direct. If you can’t deliver the product/service you said you could, don’t try to do an end run around it. Tell me.
If you’re a retailer and you’re not at the track in a travelling store, you’re no use to me.
If something breaks on my kart, it’s about 100% of the time while I was using my kart out at the track. If it breaks and I need to end my day early because of it… I’m not a happy camper. But if I look over and there you are with your mobile store/trailer with the replacement part sitting in it ripe for me to purchase, guess what. You’ve made a sale.
You don’t need rock bottom prices this way, but also don’t gouge. Yeah you can find nuts, bolts, clamps, etc for much cheaper at JoesSuperSurplusHardwareStore.com (not real, don’t try to click it, lol) but if the difference is buying it slightly more expensive from the track store and being able to get back out there right away as opposed to shutting it down for the day, ordering from JSSHS dot com waiting a week, just to save a few pennies… we’ll that’s a no brainer.
Derek, your response that says that the “big tents with the branding and fancy shirts are appealing to parents” is on point but I see it in one way that the sport is “preying” on parents that will spend lots of money for a short term but mostly won’t spend much time in the sport.
Yeah, my kart stays at the track in a storage container I rent for the year. I do all my maintenance after race days or before the Saturday test and tune session. If there’s small things I know that I will need that isn’t pressing then I will wait to get the hardware from home. However, if I break something like a spindle in Free Practice 2 and need a replacement fast I obviously just use the on site retailer for a replacement instead of carrying stock in the off chance that this failure might happen.
If it helps, personally I bought very little online. I would rely on my teams inventory of stuff should something need replacing. Jerry having a big trailer full of everything was really helpful. So, I’d send it and then buy parts trackside.
I don’t have Dom’s budget, instead I run out of 15 yo pickup and a borrowed open trailer for race days. Most of my parts, I buy online and if I buy enough at once I get free shipping. I have been running long enough now to be somewhat predictive about what spares I will need and most of the time between practice days and pre-race checks, I will come across something that’s worn or sketchy and order a replacement for when it does go.
All that said, I still support my local race shops too. Whether they are brick and mortar or trackside doesn’t matter. Mike Jones and his team at DKC have been invaluable over the years. Most of my big purchases have been through him. Seats, engines and often Tires, 2c mix and fuel. In the past they supported on Sodi Kart, but now have taken on the LN line as well which opens the door for my OTK bits and pieces. Now instead of shipping, I have just have to fuel up the truck and go pick it up. Aside from that, Mike, Adam, Jake and Sean have always been willing to help. All are older, more mature guys than some of these young hotshots that sell their time for coaching, but offer little else in the way of maintaining your equipment. And, yes, at one point they were the Factory Sodi Kart Team in the U.S.
They are a one stop shop. I like the idea of that. Sure, their prices are slightly higher than some online resources out there, but the knowledge and expertise that comes with it far out weighs the monetary savings.
When I first started racing at DKC, Mike was not all that giving with advice. It wasn’t unlit about a year later when he realized I was not in it for the short term and was really committed to racing, that he started opening up and the advice started flowing. Its to the point now, that I have showed him a few tricks and tips I learned from the auto racing world that cross over nicely into a karting application. As for his employees, they have always been free flowing and pitched in when I was scrambling to fix the kart after a crash for the next heat.
So, also like Dom mentioned 1, 2, 6 & 8 are very important, but I will say 9 (other) its the relationship you have with the people at the shop that really make juice worth the squeeze! Priceless!!!