By Chad Simon
Jotech Motorsports’ Formula for Success: Love What You Do and See Projects Through
Jotech Motorsports, located in a 14,000-sq.-ft. facility in an industrial complex three miles off I-635 in Garland, Texas, has been in business for 20 years. The company started in a small, 800-sq.-ft. shop averaging $30,000 in monthly sales of Honda and Acura products. It has since grown to a $150,000–$300,000-per-month business with seven employees.
A One-Stop Shop
A SEMA Show exhibitor since 1997, Jotech has transformed itself into a one-stop retail shop that offers installation and tuning services for Toyota, Mitsubishi, Infiniti and Nissan customers.
In Jotech’s infancy, the demographic was predominantly low-mid-income young adults between the ages of 16 and 30. As time progressed, the same set of clientele grew and moved into a higher bracket with more disposable income. They started driving nicer cars worth $30,000 to $40,000 that they wanted to modify. All-wheel-drive models such as the Nissan GT-R now serve as the foundation of the company’s success.
“For a customer who walks in with a GT-R, for example, we can offer accessories, performance modifications, suspension, tires, tuning, engine building, fabrication, vehicle wraps, window tinting, stereo installation or paint work,” said Kenny Tran, the business’ owner and an accomplished racer. “There’s nothing that we would turn down. If we can’t do it in-house, we’ll farm it out and take care of everything.”
A Labor of Love
Tran has been involved in the business since he was 21, working at Jotech when his brother-in-law owned it. Two years later, his family bought the company and took over. Jotech doesn’t advertise; all of its business is via word of mouth. It took years of hard work to grow the company to where it is today, but Tran insisted that he’s not finished yet.
“The bottom line is that you have to have a labor of love to be successful,” he said. “It’s been a long, hard road. If I was working for someone else this hard, with the many hours I’ve put into this business, I don’t think I would have survived this long. Because it’s your baby, you’re more biased, and you tend to make decisions that are more emotional. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong, but for the most part, it does guide you through the hard times, and because it’s your baby, you’re willing to put more effort into it to make it survive and grow.”
Redefining Customer Service
It may sound clichéd, but experts say that the secret to surviving—in any business—is providing outstanding customer service. Everyone has his or her own philosophy and definition of what that entails. Tran’s is walking the customer through the entire process.
“We do it better than most companies because we take our customers very seriously,” he said. “Their time is valuable to them, so we treat them the way we would want to be treated. The main thing that separates us from our competitors is our attention to detail and the quality of service we provide. We see our projects through and ensure that they get done from start to finish, from giving customers advice to sales and installation. Even after the sale, we perform maintenance and follow up with them. It’s very time-consuming, but everyone who comes in gets our full attention; it’s almost like a marriage. We establish a unique relationship with them by educating them and giving them all the details they need.”
Added incentives are a great customer-service example and can improve the odds of repeat business. Jotech offers online packages and promotions for free delivery or pickup and may throw in bonus discounts through labor, shipping and freight for return customers. When customers order in bulk, Jotech’s vendors will offer the company a kickback if their quota is met. If vendors are kicking back an additional 10%, Jotech will typically do the same for their clients, according to Tran.
If a client requests an innovative product, Tran will pick up the phone and establish a relationship with an applicable vendor. Many of the vendors with which Jotech conducts business have been grandfathered in from day one with either an exclusive deal or a territorial deal in Dallas.
Gambling on the Future
Tran has faced numerous challenges throughout the course of Jotech’s existence—the most crucial being the decision to move into a large facility at the height of the recession. He took a huge gamble, and it paid off. He knew it was a good time to buy a piece of land cheap, and he counted on the housing market bouncing back. Tran said that he made the decision because the economy hadn’t been as devastated in Texas as it was elsewhere.
“Overall sales dropped by only 2%, and I didn’t see that Texas was going to be hugely affected by the recession, so we invested in this larger facility while everyone else was pulling out,” Tran said. “Now it’s almost impossible to find a building like this at an affordable price. We had family investors who were wary of my decision, because if we’re not making money, they’re not making money, and there I was asking them to spend more money. It was a tough sell. I believe in this market, and I believe that our team could get it done. We have a stable core of quality employees who helped us out and even took a pay cut just so that we could do this.”
Looking ahead five years, Tran plans to expand his inventory and move into a larger facility right on the interstate, where the company will have more of a retail presence.
“As a business owner, expanding is a never-ending, natural progression, because you always want more space,” Tran said. “My advice to others looking to break into a retail business is that you’ve got to love what you do. That trumps everything. You have a prerequisite set of skills that you need to start and manage your company, but the overall single variable you have to have in order to survive in this cutthroat economy is you have to love it, and you have to be able to do it even when times are tough.”