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This thread was really touched off a few months ago. As we all know, a lot of RC tracks have closed their doors in the past year. When all was said and done, they just couldn’t afford to stay in business. I was chatting with one of the regular racers at Thunder Road. He was talking about his new chassis and charger. While we were talking, he mentioned why he had purchased the chassis and charger from an on-line retailer, rather than from me. After paying postage, he saved around $5.00 buying the chassis on-line. I pointed out that he could have saved at least $15.00 on the charger, by buying it from me. He said he hadn’t compared prices on the charger, but bought it on-line because he “Thought it would be cheaper, and wanted it right now; rather than having to wait until he could get to the track. It was just easier”.

But then, he launched into a ten minute diatribe about the “high cost of race fees”. (We charge $15.00 for a weekly race; $5.00 for practice days. That’s pretty much an average price for RC tracks, and has been pretty much the same throughout the industry for some years.) I pointed out that for his $15.00 entry fee, or $5.00 practice fee, I provide him with a track to race on, a computer setup to time racing and practice, electrical power, pit facilities, a track tire truer, a track Dyno, bathroom facilities, paper towels and free coffee; and I have to keep him safe, comfortable and warm for 8-12 hours or more. I compared the price of 8-12 hours of RC racing, with two or three hours at a movie theatre, or any other activity he might normally enjoy. He wasn’t impressed with my logic.

Okay; it’s tough for a store front hobby shop to compete with the prices of an on-line retailer. We all know that. I’m assuming we all agree on three points. Perhaps I’m wrong, but they are:
(1) Every one wants the tracks to stay in business.
(2) Tracks have to make a certain amount of money to stay in business.
(3) Tracks can’t, because of the inherent overhead costs, compete with an on-line retailer who has, essentially, no overhead costs.
Personally, I’d be just as happy to concede the whole parts business to the on-line retailers. I could knock at least $20,000.00 off my overhead by doing so. But the racers seem to want tracks to have parts ready in case they break something. Of course, they’ll go to an on-line retailer when they want to stock up on spare parts or make a large purchase.

As far as I know, there are only two ways a track makes money; parts and entry fees. If you want to buy your parts on-line to save money, that only leaves entry/practice fees. It seems we are down to three possible outcomes:
(1) Buy your parts where you race.
(2) Be prepared to pay significantly higher race/entry fees.
(3) Watch the tracks go under, one at a time.

So, let me ask the racers: “How would you prefer an RC track make money? Or, would you prefer to watch the tracks go under, one at a time, until you’re back in the parking lots"? It’s your choice. Thanks; Ernie P. :cool:
 

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Were I live we have to roll out our track and tape it up every friday night with the hobby shop down the road and still have to pay a 10 entry fee. I would kill to have a local track that is not an hr-2s away. People dont stop and think about the things you have posted but nevermind the movies, what about one set of tires-avg 20-26 bucks, a pinion 6 bucks? WOW, and to only ask for 15 for entry fee. The only thing I can think of is perhaps advertise within the shop something like GEICO give us 15min save 15 bucks or something like that, meaning before your internet buy check us out first, just an idea. your local racers could give a little pressure to buy within, a reminder buy here stay open, its that simple. most hobbyshop/track owners arent millionaires and cant stay open no matter what.
 
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Ernie P. said:
This thread was really touched off a few months ago. As we all know, a lot of RC tracks have closed their doors in the past year. When all was said and done, they just couldn’t afford to stay in business. I was chatting with one of the regular racers at Thunder Road. He was talking about his new chassis and charger. While we were talking, he mentioned why he had purchased the chassis and charger from an on-line retailer, rather than from me. After paying postage, he saved around $5.00 buying the chassis on-line. I pointed out that he could have saved at least $15.00 on the charger, by buying it from me. He said he hadn’t compared prices on the charger, but bought it on-line because he “Thought it would be cheaper, and wanted it right now; rather than having to wait until he could get to the track. It was just easier”.

But then, he launched into a ten minute diatribe about the “high cost of race fees”. (We charge $15.00 for a weekly race; $5.00 for practice days. That’s pretty much an average price for RC tracks, and has been pretty much the same throughout the industry for some years.) I pointed out that for his $15.00 entry fee, or $5.00 practice fee, I provide him with a track to race on, a computer setup to time racing and practice, electrical power, pit facilities, a track tire truer, a track Dyno, bathroom facilities, paper towels and free coffee; and I have to keep him safe, comfortable and warm for 8-12 hours or more. I compared the price of 8-12 hours of RC racing, with two or three hours at a movie theatre, or any other activity he might normally enjoy. He wasn’t impressed with my logic.

Okay; it’s tough for a store front hobby shop to compete with the prices of an on-line retailer. We all know that. I’m assuming we all agree on three points. Perhaps I’m wrong, but they are:
(1) Every one wants the tracks to stay in business.
(2) Tracks have to make a certain amount of money to stay in business.
(3) Tracks can’t, because of the inherent overhead costs, compete with an on-line retailer who has, essentially, no overhead costs.
Personally, I’d be just as happy to concede the whole parts business to the on-line retailers. I could knock at least $20,000.00 off my overhead by doing so. But the racers seem to want tracks to have parts ready in case they break something. Of course, they’ll go to an on-line retailer when they want to stock up on spare parts or make a large purchase.

As far as I know, there are only two ways a track makes money; parts and entry fees. If you want to buy your parts on-line to save money, that only leaves entry/practice fees. It seems we are down to three possible outcomes:
(1) Buy your parts where you race.
(2) Be prepared to pay significantly higher race/entry fees.
(3) Watch the tracks go under, one at a time.

So, let me ask the racers: “How would you prefer an RC track make money? Or, would you prefer to watch the tracks go under, one at a time, until you’re back in the parking lots"? It’s your choice. Thanks; Ernie P. :cool:

Two words!

We DONT!

We caught a rash of **it...for raising the fees from $7 per day to practice to$10 and $12 to $15 for a race...overhead could kill you!!!!!!!!!! Rent, lights, gas heat and high vaulted (not insulated ceilings) insurance...etc etc etc
We also provide print outs on times (computer use)... etc.
We try so hard to be convenient, stay open late - all night if possible etc ...

I also spend alot of time online searching for HOT deals, etc.... weve lowered our costs to compete but by doing so weve had to eat ALOT of possible profit or SPEND A TON to buy in a MUCH LARGER BULK to ensure a profit...either way .... ordering 10k worth of hobby stuff; may take 5 months to see the profit.

It kills me. I also just saw online that a few of our regulars got stuff recently - not from us...and Im like geeze...even if we just ordered it and made nothing...why didnt they even ASK US?!?!?!?

With that said our track has one HUGE disadvantage right now - CREDIT CARD MACHINES! It was costing nearly 200 per month for the phone line - which was ONLY used for the machine. The business line is our cell; on top of that merchant services/credit cards take percentages, monthly fees, etc - it was COSTING money to have that payment option.

now that the season is picking up - we need that option but sure enough our bank has us on a WAITING list to get the dang service. (our luck)... anywho...knowing how many racers need to charge things; I can somewhat understand them going online - when a shop such as ours doesnt have the option to charge..but still - why not even just ASK us...for a price quote before just rolling in with a new radio..etc... ya know?

Its aweful...K&N has been running for 19 years...and believe me...we have spent days on end just trying to think of a way to make money!

Either everyone is sponsored, wants discounts or has some type of connection! If "John" has a tire deal, him and "Mike" (who has a battery deal) agree to share...thus we lose out on BOTH tire/stick sales.....

Then you add in other "respectable" shops/hobby places offering your loyal racers discounts (just to take your sales) its KILLS ME!

Ernie... chin up...youre NOT alone!
 

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Does anyone stop to think it may be the manufacturers themselves that are killing the tracks. Im not talking about companies like Associated, Futaba, Novak, Trinity, etc.. I'm talking the companies we run against every week. Companies like Hyperdrive, BSR, KSG.. Companies that have so many drivers running for them no one has to buy parts at the track. Take for example the new track in Salisbury, NC TRD. You walk in and 8 out of 10 people racing are wearing a Hyperdrive shirt. Now only 3 or 4 of them are 100% but even a 25-50% racer will not shop at the track. I think if these manufacturers(companies) start backing off on all the "deals" they give, in the long run everyone will make out. The tracks, the racers, and finally the companies will be able to sell stuff cheaper in the long run. I have and still am under one of these umbrellas, but I have no problem buying stuff. Everyone wants something for free or for a reduced price but no one thinks about the track owners when they slap that new decal on their car. Then there is the problem of the track owners themselves(which I have been one). I would never open a facility without first having a place for my racers to sit, let alone plug in their equipment. But yet some places have "special rooms" for certain company drivers to pit with their nice benches, lights and chairs to sit on. I think Ernie does a heck of a job providing what he does at ThunderRoad, hes the type of owner that should be supported, not ones that cater to one or two specific groups of racers. In turn, I think if we limit some of these "deals", everyone will make out in the end. FLAME AWAY, but you know Im right.
 

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Heres another idea and its been knocked around for a while. The first thing a new person asks when he/she walks into a track is what do you win? Our answer, well nothing, but you do have to spend $1000 - $3000 to get started. Everyone complains about $15-$20 entry fees, but no one thinks twice about plunking down another $60 for a pack of batteries that might give them 1/4 of a lap extra. How about a new forward thinking oval organization that has a way that racers can make money. I dont know how many racers actually know that here in NC a Nextel cup cup team has to pay an entry fee, and so does every other touring series. I would gladly pay $25 or so if there is a CHANCE of making something. Even if it is only a dollar or two. It puts the competitiveness back into it. How do you keep factory drivers from cherry picking. EASY! We all know who races for who, those drivers have to run in a different class. You have open mod, PRO 19T, 19t, and stock. There should be NO SPONSORED drivers in stock to begin with. Its ridiculous. Who wouldnt pay a couple extra dollars to spice up the racing night. Eventually word gets out, the track gets people talking, old retired drivers get the bug again, and before you know it oval is back where it was. By the number of threads on the oval boards there is no denying that oval IS NOT DEAD. There just needs to be some new light cast upon it. Just my opinions, everyone has em. Fire away.
 

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Maximus in york maine has money racers.and it draws racers in when he does. 25 for TQ and 50 percent of entry fee
 

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I'm not the most popular with my opinion on this subject,but after doing a little research I concluded that if I was ever going to own a RC track I wasn't going to to be able to make money at it,so if and when I do get a track I will go into it with that mindset,it will be like my racin is now "NOT FOR PROFIT".fivsomewhere you're beating a dead bush to death,all your ideas sound good but they are ages old and unfortunatly won't work,you're not going to stop companies from sponsoring drivers,is it killing oval? not really, but it's certainly not helping.Once again,you don't have to spend $1000 to get started! as long as people keep telling your visitors this, you yourself are one of the biggest problems to aqcuiring new racers.Like ANY hobby/sport,fishing,hunting,skiing,boating,golfing whatever,you don't do it to make money,why is it so hard for people to grasp this concept?
 

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You can make money!

Yes you can make money. I have owned three stores and have travel raced for a number of years. To make money you must be diversified. Oval alone just won't make it. Because of the previous mentioned reasons. So touring, stadium trucks, and oval must all have there seperate race days. And I know this isn't a popular idea, but spec racing is where the money is to be made. Bringing new people in and non-sponsored guys that are more loyal to the track because they have made there first purchase with the track owner and got that personal service that you can't get online. You need to look no further than RC Maddness, Maximus hobbies and Marshall's.. They have a variety of classes plus a great stock of parts. They run there respective shows very well and smoothly. I know when I race at these tracks I usually come away with the feeling that it was great racing. If you can't get the word out to your regulars that you can get it just as cheap as online are just as quick then it is your fault as a sales person. Remember, not everyone is cut out to be a store owner. Just because you open the doors dosen't mean people are going to race or buy from you. I have seen great racers not be able to run a store and I have seen good business people not be able to sell hobby products. I think it takes a unique person to make it go. I have done it well at times and failed at times, but it can be done. If you are interested in doing it then model your business after the three tracks I have mentioned. I am sure there are more examples, but I am sure you will get the picture.
Just my 2 cents!
 

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Now I am between a rock and a hard place. I believe that tracks can make money if they are open to new ideas, as Jimmy said offer Spec, Stadium Trucks, On-Road and Oval. here is where it gets interesting.

As a sponsored driver I feel bad for not buying products off the wall of a Hobbyshop. On the other hand If a sponsored driver runs for BSR That driver doesn't buy them off the wall, but the new commers come in and see a sponsored driver using BSR's, they are gonna pick up a few sets thinking they will be just as fast. It's the same with Batteries, Chassis' and motors. It's good to have representatives for companies racing on a weekly basis. If you sit back and think about it, Sponsored drivers are just Sales guys out at the track.... "Run this product" I feel that there should be and will continue to be sponsored drivers forever obviously. Take RIP motorsports for example. I am a RIP driver and I am proud to say that I am. Now months ago Nick leone showed me and let me drive his car at madness, I liked how it handled I thought that was the end of it, I had my KSG Gen2 and I was happy with it at that time...... Now when Justin, myself and a few other decided to run the RIP cars at our local track, 10 more people bought them. Now if you think about it, let's just say 3 out of the 10 drivers got a "deal" on the car kits, thats 7 car kits that are sold for the hobbyshop and the owner of the company. The hobbyshops makes a "decent" mark-up on the products, they do have to shell out alot of dough to make a hobbyshop exactly what it is, a hobbyshop. I do agree that the on-line shopping can hurt the hobbyshop but what it also can do is help it as well. Basically my point is this. If the company is well represented and picked the right guys to sponsor than everyone will make money. I can't tell you how many times the sportsmen class racers come up and say "I want to buy a RIP Car" - " I want to run BSR's" I want to run Protoform bodies" I hear it all the time, they run inside the hobbyshop and buy the car, motor and body. I think I have made my point on the sponsored drivers aspect of this thread, it's just my 2 cents and I could be wrong and my above statement can make absolute no sense to you what-so-ever, but it's an opinion and everyone's got one. Thanks for listening.
 

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Diversification is certainly part of the answer. Unless you have a very strong weekly crowd of oval racers then you have to look at other forms of racing to bring in more people. If your track is big enough to support an oval and a road course and you can get on road racers in your shop then it’s a no brainer, you have to do it.

We can go on and on about how to do this, that and the other but once it gets out of the hands of the track owner, then it is up to the racer to support his track. And if the track owner is doing all he can do then there is only one sentence that will take car of the rest of it.

The racers have to support their hobby shop with their purchases and quit bypassing him to save $5.00 or $10.00.

You have to decide; do you want to save a couple of bucks or do you want a place to race?
 

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Interesting topic. I have thought about this a long time, and have helped a few people in the business. I agree with most of what was said in the forum. Remember this, 70 - 80 % of all new businesses fail in the US within the first 5 years. Why would the R/C race track be any different?

1) One thing that I have noticed is that most of the tracks that have an on-line hobby shop do a bit better than those that do not. It will kind of go in cycles with the shops that don't do business on-line or limited business on-line.

2) Why not offer a membership to the club/racetrack with an automatic discount for members. Buy so much merchandise, get a better deal. Just don't make it manditory to race at your track.

3) After you have an on-line hobby shop, entice people to race there by offering the service you already do on-line as well as off. An on-line membership so to speak.

There are many ways (opportunities) to beat the on-line only hobby shop because you have something they do not. A PLACE TO RACE!!!

Use it.

Beat them at their own game.

Promote those at your track that help others with their racing.

When you see new folk’s popping in to have a look see, be responsible enough to get their attention and give them the right information.

Lets face it, the internet is not going away, so use it and all your resources to gain the advantage.

Just a few ideas.
I hope they are useful to you.
 

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That all sounds great except for the fact that the margins are so low to begin with on medium to large ticket r/c products that there is no wiggle room for discounting. One solution would be some type of price control/advertising policy on larger ticket items.

As far as tracks are concerned, a strategy for finding new racers is the only solution. Everyone is still fishing from the same pond that hasn't been legitemately restocked. Generating a new customer base is really the only solution. How to do that would be a great converstaion of ideas.
 

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This seems to be a topic each year, each decade. I remember Bob Hosch at the Whip had 100 dollar reward posters for anyone selling parts to racers on property (which he said was not allowed).

Not sure there is a way to control what racers do. Racer want what they want, when the want it, and where they want it. Hard to make them change their habits.

Biggest way to overcome is work on higher margins and bring in more gross somehow. Maybe sell essentials more (towels, batteries, etc). Practice and Entries are biggest income bringers. Rent monthly reserved pit spots. Charge flat monthly race fee that includes practice and entries all month. This way you can take it out each month whether or not racers show up or not. Some may rather support a track this way than anything else.. paypal could work with this too - easy for everyone.
 

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We the racers shouldn't bitch about entry fees!!!! How much to play 18 holes? where i live [7 courses within 20 miles of my home] the cheapest is 40 bucks with cart! how much to enter a fishing tourn.? A weekly event here is 50 bucks!"Big" events 75 to 150! Jeez we've probably got the cheapest sport there is! 15 bucks for 4-6 hrs? And "sponsored drivers" should bend over backwards to buy something from the shop. The only thing i see the tracks can do is make sure that a new racer has a class,whether it be legends or RTR,and keep him in that class til he is ready to advance,by putting a win limit.

Now i'm gonna pick on Mike; BIG Races suck!!!! Guys,how much does a person that has to travel over 400 miles spend for a week at the birds or similar event? Last time i went in 03[by myself] i spent $850-1000 for 6 days!!! How long into the summer can you race at your local track for that kinda$$$??? And what do you get out of it? a pretty trophy and the chance to look at a purty girl without your wife bitchin at you!!!
Ain't worth it. So guys support your local tracks,don't bitch about the entry fees,or you'll be diggin a hole in the back yard and burying this junk!!!!
 

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DK47 I look at big races as Vacations. IMO 7 days will all my buddies doing my favorite hobby is money well spent. Considering it was only $1,000 I also feel as thou I got off cheap, since the last family vacation was 10 times that much. The Hotel alone was just over $3,000 for the week.
 

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Strictly looking at it as the expense and being able to race weekly,as compared to it being the only race each year because the locals are all shut down. My last vacation was a bit more pricey too,but i didn't have to smell Paragon for a week.
 

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I've never bitched about entry fee's $15 for a day at the track is nothing! I'd gladly pay more.Profit margins is the REAL problem with the hobby industry,as I found out with my research.As for sponsered drivers selling,that's what they are supposd to do! Ask Barry Hill how many PRO 3 kits Humpty is credited for,as he should be,he's doing his job.
 

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Look I'm not trying to say get rid of sponsored drivers. I(we) get plenty of free stuff, but you'll never see my driver running stock. Most tracks only have a few classes to begin with and stock is usually the lowest. How discouraging was it for everyone of you when you first started to go race and get your doors blown off. I dont know how far many of you back, but I go back to the days of The Whip, CAM motors, Lazerlite, etc. I've seen my share of good ideas and bad ideas and I've been at fault at both. But come on, you want to represent a company dont run stock where most beginners start, think about the future of this hobby when all you want to do is win. Increase the entry fee, run for some sort of payback, and you'll see drivers that you normally only see at big races come out and run. Further more, everyone complains about the latest and greatest every other week, and an organization was started to help control that, ARCOR, but as soon as its legal we all rush to get it. Lets forget all the crap about putting a cap on things, because we have all proved that price is not an option, and lets start running what the rest of the country is running and maybe the track can sell a few more battery packs and motors every week. Stop whining and lets race and keep people like ERNIE in business. Like Mike V. said dont support the track and we can all just bury our stuff in the back yard.
 
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