An active SCCA member and volunteer, Mike Collins suggests three ways SCCA can revive participation and reverse the decline in membership. This is the first of a series of three posts, each of which will delve into one of the suggestions listed below.
The SCCA has a tremendous opportunity to improve the racing experience, revive participation, and, ultimately, reverse the decline in membership. It can dramatically regain the market share it’s been losing to competitors and become the racing club it’s always believed itself to be. The SCCA needs to focus on its members; improve the racing experience; and, create synergies with other events.
Right now, the club is lost and needs to find its way to survive. Through efforts to retain and grow membership and participation in races, the organization has felt it must offer as many racing options and opportunities as possible. In doing so, the SCCA has created a confusing array of racing levels and series that do not provide clear participation, competition, and success guidelines for road racing enthusiasts.
Three Ways SCCA Can Revive Participation
The SCCA will see fast improvement if it:
- Understands who its members/potential members are and what they need from the organization.
- Streamlines the maze of road racing options to eliminate internal competition.
- Creates synergy with its other events so drivers can find a path to grow within the sport.
In this post, I will focus on the first recommendation: the SCCA needs to identify and understand its members and their needs. I’ll dig into the details of the other two suggestions in my next two articles.
Identify Members and Understand Their Needs
The SCCA is a membership-based organization that needs to adopt a customer-centric approach to grow. It needs to use its data to understand how to create engagement, offer a best-in-class racing experience, and generate new, loyal members who would not dream of racing with any other club.
The only way the SCCA can grow is to attract younger members. If the SCCA can attract younger members, it will ensure the long-term viability of the club. To do so, however, the SCCA must be willing to understand and embrace what future racers seek in their racing experiences.
Develop Top-Notch Customer Experience
The SCCA needs to offer members the experience and the service that they want and expect from this type of organization. Most of its problems stem from the fact that it doesn’t truly understand its members. It’s adopted the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach, which worked for a while but only addresses the needs of a small segment of the racing audience.
Currently, the SCCA is neither the place you see major automobile manufactures campaigning their latest wares, nor is it where you see grassroots, budget-friendly, modern cars. It’s where you see an increasingly eclectic group of not-quite-modern cars, a lot of vintage cars but no path to pro-racing for those who are interested. The only exception may be a few of the Mazda programs, such as the 12th annual Mazda Road to 24 Shootout.
Strong Competition Threatens the Future of the Club
The SCCA loses market share to vintage race groups like Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) every year. SVRA uses SCCA car classification rules and genuinely does exactly what the SCCA does, only better. The SCCA loses cars to SVRA every year because it has not created true opportunities for vintage racing. It loses its most tenured members and their institutional knowledge because it refuses to change the rules and add this much-needed class of racing to its roster.
SVRA Is Growing Fast
SVRA has grown from an obscure vintage group to one of the country’s largest vintage sanctioning bodies (by size and gross revenue). It delivers a better product at a better price because it knows its audience and it caters to them.
SVRA has no-contact policies, and means it. It provides a lot of track time. It has featured run groups for Trans Am and Vintage Trans Am that attract attention. SVRA is already making headway in the Spec Miata community with the addition of the Mazda Miata Heritage Cup for the early NA-bodied cars. It won’t be long before it gets the entire SM community involved.
Time to Stop Talking and Start Acting
The SCCA can stop claiming to be the best and instead adopt the best practices of its competitors. Those organizations took what they learned from us, improved it, and now provide the SCCA’s services better than the SCCA itself.