Becoming the Best Can’t Be Cheap or Easy
What do you think about when you hear that name?
The name conjures beautiful images to mind, right? The first few things I think of are the color red, the prancing horse, that sound, and decades of Formula One racing success.
But, there’s another reality, too.
While demand for the cars remains high, that is due in part to the fact that the company is building fewer cars to sell each year. So, less revenue… and on the heels of going public in 2016.
The flagship image of the company – its Formula One racing team – is struggling. Mightily! The team has gone through several Team Principals in the past decade, the company board and leadership has changed consistently, and all of that change has trickled down in a negative way. The team is constantly firing well-known and respected talents from the team, including engine and aerodynamics specialists.
The result is the car is not a top-performing car. Other marques like Mercedes-Benz and Renault have been more dominant while Ferrari is struggling to have a good outing in each race.
Nearly three years ago now the team signed the four-time world champion driver Sebastian Vettel as their primary driver. But he has yet to break through and return to top form. He’s only won three races in his entire tenure with the team, and the future is looking dim, too.
Yet, positive perception of Ferrari prevails.
The tifosi – the Italian word for “fans” that may as well be the Italian word for “Ferrari fans” – are at an all time fever pitch of passion for their favorite team.
Not to mention the fact that since the company went public in the United States last year the stock price has jumped nearly $15 and is hovering around $60/share. Oh, and the stock ticker symbol is RACE… how cool is that?
Despite all of the tough times, the company’s name still manages to conjure all of those great images in your mind just a few hundred words ago.
When Enzo Ferrari first grabbed the scarf with the prancing horse on it (at the funeral of a WWI pilot he knew… if we ever meet up I’ll tell you a cool story here), he had already made the decision that he wanted to run a car company that featured the best blend of design and performance.
Despite Ferrari suffering the ups and downs and bumps and detours that all businesses navigate, the truth of “best” as a single ambition never wavered.
McLaren, Lamborghini, Porsche, and other marques attempt to close the gap, but they can’t. They lack the history, the passion, and the focused craftsmanship that have been Ferrari hallmarks for nearly a century.
But, those companies are successfully pushing Ferrari to stay on top, even if the company isn’t doing a perfect job day in day out, year in and year out.
If the path to becoming the best and achieving what you want in business was easy the market would be BORING. Ferrari, and the luxury performance car market, is definitely not boring.
Neither is your market.
You like what you do, remember? Find your true North like Ferrari did, and then enjoy the journey of keeping your company pointed in the right direction.
If you executed your business strategy perfectly over the next decade or two, what would customers be saying about your business in 20 years? What would customers say you are the very best at?
Would they sound like you did when you described Ferrari at the beginning of this column?
If not… how come?