Monday, February 10, 2020

Looking Down at Racing's Customers Is in the Sports' DNA

Rider Lane Luzzi made a pretty big splash on the twitter for a tweet (deleted and now apologized for) that was less than deferential to the gambling customer. We see and read these thoughts from time to time from people in racing's various cohorts or fiefdoms; it's nothing new.

What strikes many of us from time to time, though, is the pattern this represents. We'll often hear complaints about how no business treats its customers with such disrespect, or have them so low on the totem pole compared to others, like racing does. These people are not wrong.

Why is that?

A portion of one of Seth Godin's books talked about a business (or industry) and six audiences.
  • The sales force 
  • the stock market 
  • potential new customers 
  • existing customers 
  • employees
  • regulators
If you and I ran a candy store at the corner, we worry about customers. Period. Horse racing should really be like a candy store. Revenue comes primarily from handle (sales of candy). 

But it's not really that simple. From the piece:
  • Every organization chooses its own audience, and that choice is based on the architecture of the industry, the mindset of the boss and the history of how you got here. But don't doubt that it changes everything you do.
Racing's choice is not customers and never really has been. It's about regulators (TSG in California right now) and the stock market (CDI) and 'employees' (TOC and other groups). And yes, that lack of one focus "changes everything you do". If you don't focus on customers, how can you possibly have more of them? How can you possibly grow handle?

Many companies juggle different cohorts as a matter of course. One regulatory change can kill a car company, one strike can hurt revenues, and they sure do pay attention to a stock market. If you watched the Super Bowl and saw many millions of car ads, you wouldn't say they aren't customer focused.  

The next time you hear racing really doesn't need to pay attention to the gamblers, in my view, we should just shrug. It's a part of the sports' DNA. And falling relevance and revenue over the last two decades hasn't budged it one bit. 

Have a nice Monday everyone. 

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