NON TECHNICAL JOBS IN MOTORSPORT
The Motorsport Industry is generally made up of small to medium sized companies, either racing teams, manufacturers, or suppliers of products and services.
Motorsport is a highly competitive business. It is the competition element which gives the industry its ‘can do’ attitude and there are few other industries which respond to challenges so quickly.
It is an acute balance between technical and commercial and both feed off the other.
Apart from the technical side, such as designing, building and running the race car, central to motorsport are services such as marketing, PR and media, hospitality, catering, logistics, finance and human resources.
Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing brings in the money, which is what keeps the organisation’s wheels turning. Teams need to generate the income to go racing. Suppliers feed the teams technical appetite, but they have to be competitive on price, reliability and above all, be able to deliver on time. On both sides, maintaining and managing a good relationship is essential.
On the teams’ side, sales and marketing is often termed Business Development, which basically entails getting the money through sponsorship, and Account Management, which is making sure you keep the finance by careful management of the sponsor.
Teams and drivers have an insatiable appetite for money and nearly always claim that they never have enough, however deep their pockets!
Generally, there is continual search for new sponsors which need to be nurtured. In the industry, sponsors are more accurately referred to as investors or commercial partners, for whom the team delivers a commercial opportunity through motorsport.
Acting as the first point of contact, sales provide advice and actively sell opportunities with the team, or a range of products and services. They need to have a full and knowledgeable understanding of what they are selling in order to assist their customers in providing benefits or being a solution to a requirement.
A sales person would generally be expected to generate new enquiries and business opportunities, follow-up existing customers to establish satisfaction and gauge on-going requirements. The hours, as with most roles in motorsport, usually require flexibility and could involve travelling.
Entry requirements for sales can vary widely from company to company. More specialist areas such as technical product sales will require relevant technical qualifications and experience, but all will require a personality and general demeanour which puts the customer at ease.
Marketing involves developing methods to promote the organisation’s products and services in order to increase brand awareness and business opportunities. This is mainly achieved through promotional techniques such as advertising, sales promotions, publicity, events and public relations. Motorsport, with its wide appeal, television coverage and perceived glamour, is a perfect marketing vehicle for promotion. Consequently, the role of the marketer involves devising strategies and making arrangements to entertain existing and potential partners at events and providing promotional opportunities to ensure continuing and sustainable support.
Like sales, this role can involve travel, depending on the role within the company or the product involved. To enter a marketing role, employers generally look for good communication skills, education and professional qualifications. Any evidence of previous relevant experience, or involvement with motorsport, will clearly benefit an application.
PR and Media
PR and Media is one of the most important methods to promote the teams or company and attract awareness for commercial partners to become involved. Results on the track are all well and good, but unless anyone sees or hears about it, those podiums will hold less value than they deserve.
PR and media activities can include generating press releases, organising media activities for team management and the drivers, updating and managing websites or social media. An outgoing personality with good communication skills both verbally and written, are very much a prerequisite.
Entertaining sponsors and their guests at races or events is now a very important component of motorsport these days. It allows the teams partners to get closer to the team and witness their investment in action.
Activities can include organising and managing team or corporate hospitality, driver appearances to meet the guests, pit and garage tours, through to catering. Again, an outgoing friendly personality is vital, good organisational skills and the ability to communicate respectfully and above all, like meeting people.
Logistics is as varied as the different companies involved within motorsport. If you work for a race team at the factory dealing with engineering or manufacturing components, then the role can be similar to that of Logistics or Store Manager in any other company. Key activities include ensuring a regular supply of parts to the factory floor and the arrangement of deliveries/collections to and from the factory.
Motorsport often works within strict time parameters which are largely defined by race schedules. This may mean ensuring that parts and or people are in the right place at the right time. This means anticipating needs, having back-up plans for products and alternative suppliers so that the race is not lost for want of a simple component.
Moving race teams, including cars, equipment and personnel is a big responsibility, often with races taking place internationally. This includes freight, transportation, customs, flights, hotels, hire cars and catering. Nothing can be left to chance, but inevitably problems occur and you have to have the ability to think on your feet, and find solutions. As the saying goes: “we can do the impossible, but miracles take a little longer!”
Purchasing generally involves finding suppliers who can provide a specific product or service to a
specification, negotiating prices and then arranging delivery according to the needs of the company.
Buyers in the motorsport industry often have engineering and manufacturing experience. The role can be highly demanding and competitive as a direct consequence of the response and tight lead times demanded by the speed of research and development, which is at the heart of motorsport operations.
Once the revenue has been generated, its expenditure must be carefully managed. Finance in motorsport is the same as within any other industry. Typically, an employee would be involved in ensuring the smooth running of the accounts, including sales and purchase ledger, invoicing, producing and analysing management accounts, month-end routines, tax reporting and returns. Seasonal budgets and analysis of sponsorship and investor inputs is of vital importance since, typically for a race team some 70% of revenue is derived from such a source.
These roles are usually office based and could be combined with other duties such as administration, payroll and employment legislation. In normal circumstances, employers will be seeking individuals professionally qualified in these subjects.
Human Resources (HR)
The life blood of any organisation is its staff, which are its greatest asset. Motorsport companies vary in size, but they all require HR, which is the same with any other industry and an important part of a company in administering and looking after its staff. HR roles are usually office based and employers will be seeking individuals professionally qualified in this discipline.
In assessing enthusiasm and attitude, the majority of employers will be looking for relevant experience and direct experience in motorsport is definitely an advantage.
The essential benefit of work experience is a personal one and it is good to have an understanding of the business, how it works and the demands it is likely to make of you.
You don’t always have to be a motor racing enthusiast to work within the industry, but it does help. Regardless, you may well find that the passion and competitive nature of the business is infectious!