Family driven to succeed
Algoa Grand Prix Indoor Go Karting owners exude racing spirit
What started as a bare concrete floor, is now a fully equipped and professionally mimicked race track exuding a family’s racing spirit.
Brothers-in-law and co-owners of Algoa Grand Prix Indoor Go Karting, Tom Hugo and Peter Schultz, say their success has been fuelled by their drive to constantly improve the facility and deliver “top class customer service”.
“We turned a parking lot into a race track and we are always looking for new ways to make the facility look and feel better,” Hugo said.
Can you give me some background on yourself and how and when you started the business?
We officially opened our doors in June 2017. We love every day and minute of running this business. One day, we got a call from someone who said that karts had arrived in SA.
Tom went to go and have a look at them in Johannesburg and the karts were brand new and brilliant.
We then had to negotiate with the people and we then brought the karts down from Johannesburg. And from then we started getting everything in place.
Where was business the idea born?
It’s something we were both interested in and we had spoken about starting it for a long time.
What do you think makes your business unique?
We concentrate quite heavily on corporate clients. We host corporate Grand Prix’s for them. We also host very successful senior and junior leagues.
As far as we are aware we are the only track in South Africa that has junior karts and hosts a junior league. That’s a huge plus for Port Elizabeth.
We also have double karts where parents can ride with their kids in one kart as well as our own paraplegic kart.
We have a full service workshop where the karts get checked on a daily basis.
Our future plan is to start a development programme where we teach kids about the workshop, mechanical knowledge, rules of the track and flags, safety and then the actual driving of the karts and racing.
If someone wanted to take one key lesson from your business model, what would it be?
You need to have proper plans in place. You have to prioritise customer service. You have to offer value for money and invest in your product.
What we try to do is keep it fresh. We repaint the whole track and we constantly make improvements and upgrades. We do this to show our customers that we are running a top notch facility.
We do not allow the business to take one step back. We rather go four steps forward.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before even getting off the ground?
The biggest challenge for us was getting this business to perform at 120% to allow people to be satisfied and confidently feel that they are getting value for money.
We wanted to get it right from the get go.
What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?
We are fortunate that we operate in a very niche market.
Even though we are running a race track, we are very concerned with cleanliness. We expect our staff to be professional towards every single one of our clients.
Mostly we challenge ourselves to be better every day.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about success?
Don’t procrastinate. Make small changes to your business on a regular basis so your clients can see that you are keeping their interests at heart.
How do you measure or define success in your business?
Through our customers. They are our first priority. Whether a client is four-years old or 89-years-old, we respect them all and give them our attention.
When we see their energy and excitement when they get off the track, we know we are doing a good job.
We also have good ratings and reviews on both Google and Facebook.
What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?
Reinvesting into our business and making those small changes and improvements.
What kind of advertising do you do?
Word of mouth is great and that’s our biggest means of advertising. What also helps is when people come here and they post pictures of themselves around the track onto social media. But that really goes hand in hand with word of mouth.
How many people do you employ?
If we run a full house – its 20 people per day.
How do you motivate staff?
We work on incentives. Since we opened a year and a half ago, our staff have had four increases in their wages. We know that its important for us to listen to our staff and to reward them.
How did you acquire funding for the business?
Through a loan from the bank.
Once you had funding, what was the first step in actually launching the business?
Finding a suitable premises was number one. We put a lot of energy into the product and made sure that we didn’t open until we were ready.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your business journey so far?
Communication is key. Communication between us as partners, with our staff and between us and the customers.
Loyalty and trust is also essential in your business. When your staff are loyal, you can sleep easy.
What has been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like PE?
Port Elizabeth is a petrol head city. There are race tracks everywhere and a clear racing culture.
We feel that we add majorly to that. We believe that this is where the future racers are born.
What do you think are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?
Supply a product customers actually want and what you offer is value for money.
Making sure you satisfy the customer’s want at a professional level.
Constantly reinvest your business so that every time someone leaves your premises, they leave with a smile...