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Starting a New Team...Again. And You?

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Starting a New Team...Again. And You?

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Old 09-30-08, 07:21 AM
  #1  
Bob Dopolina 
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Starting a New Team...Again. And You?

I've been finding sponsors and creating and managing teams here for 10 years. Two of the teams I created are still in existence. I retired from racing while managing and riding for the last team I put together after we completely dominated the National race calendar.

Now I've decided to race again but didn't want to try to wrangle my way back on my former team. They've had a full season without me and it just didn't seem right.

Originally, I wanted to just be a rider on some team. I really didn't care whose team it was. I have a club team I can race for if need be and I had an offer from another team but I'm really not to keen on DS.

So I was walking around after the last race I went to (more like chasing after my son) when I bumped into someone from a major bike company. We talked. He mentioned that he was interested in starting a new team in Taiwan. We talked some more and met a few days later.

I gave him a proposal. I know he checked me out with the race organizer, some coaches and another team manager. I really think that if he gets the green light from HQ it will be a go. Stay tuned for details.

I am wondering if there are others on BF who act as GM and race for their team. Or members don't race for the team but who manage it, deal with sponsors, organize, plan etc.

How are you finding the response from sponsors or potential sponsors this year? What are the biggest hurdles you face in your area? Are there differences in how you develop or work with a team that are based on local? Have you developed a team from scratch? If so how far have you taken it?

I'm basically looking to foster some discussion about racing that isn't just about wattage. I'm casting a bit of a wide net, I know, but I wasn't really sure how else to go about it.

So how 'bout it?
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Old 09-30-08, 08:26 AM
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Bob,

First, I hope your bike rep comes through. As you know, talk this time of year (The Silly Season) is at it's highest, so get lots of options.

Second, you have a lot of experience in team management, so what's with all the questions? Maybe you should start a thread relaying your thoughts for all the potential BF directors.

Third, wattage threads are out of control. I start threads about Classics and World Championships and get like 2 pages of posts. Someone starts a thread about their FTP gaining 5 points and the whole place starts talking like housewives on a powerwalk.
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Old 09-30-08, 08:36 AM
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I've got nothing to offer but my keen interest. Pass the popcorn.
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Old 09-30-08, 09:04 AM
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A friend and I started a team at our university. We haven't gone around looking for sponsors since most people have bikes already and I don't think people would be willing to slap down for a new frame due to costs and such. I would really like to find a wheel sponsor and possibly a helmet and clothing sponsor if possible, but I'm not quite sure how to go about it.

At this moment, we've just been asking alumni for money and we got a bit of it, but it'd be really nice to get some gear for reduced costs/free.

Bdop, you have lots of experience with this, if you hadn't been approached, how would you have gone about this?
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Old 09-30-08, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
A friend and I started a team at our university. We haven't gone around looking for sponsors since most people have bikes already and I don't think people would be willing to slap down for a new frame due to costs and such. I would really like to find a wheel sponsor and possibly a helmet and clothing sponsor if possible, but I'm not quite sure how to go about it.

At this moment, we've just been asking alumni for money and we got a bit of it, but it'd be really nice to get some gear for reduced costs/free.

Bdop, you have lots of experience with this, if you hadn't been approached, how would you have gone about this?
I'd start by putting together a proposal that contained the following:

1. A quick cover letter (1 page)
2. A section introducing the riders and staff. Include racer results
3. A section showing any media exposure you may have had
4. A list of goals for the season
5. A budget

Include a clear statement of what it is you are looking for from the potential sponsor.

One year I included a page that had a jersey and short with prices on different parts of the uniforms that represented the different levels of sponsorship.

There is a title sponsor (the big bucks), secondary sponsors (less money but still CASH) and official suppliers. Only cash sponsors made it onto the jersey. I made exceptions for frame and wheel sponsors due to the amounts involved.

Start from there and adjust as needed for you situation.
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Old 09-30-08, 03:16 PM
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How do you decide on the price a sponsor will need to pay to get on a jersey? I ask cause I'm part of a team(Cat 3/4) for a small shop and our jerseys(that we purchased) have a couple of sponsors yet I can't see how the money has benefited the team. Just trying to get an idea of where the money sponsors pay is spent.
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Old 09-30-08, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by tbrown524 View Post
How do you decide on the price a sponsor will need to pay to get on a jersey? I ask cause I'm part of a team(Cat 3/4) for a small shop and our jerseys(that we purchased) have a couple of sponsors yet I can't see how the money has benefited the team. Just trying to get an idea of where the money sponsors pay is spent.
First you need to figure out what your budget needs are. This should done while making the proposal. If you set out a race calendar, with target events (that are important to the sponsor, if possible) then you should be able to come up with an overall number for the year.

If you are talking about a cash only sponsorship (the best) then a title sponsor should be giving somewhere between 50-75% of your total operating budget. Secondary sponsors should make up the rest. If you only have 1 cash sponsor then they would be contributing 100%, non?

Cash could be spent on any and or all of the following:

1. Uniforms - believe it or not, this is my biggest headache (and one of our largest single expenses) every year. I like to give 3 full kits to each rider. I also like to have a few spares in case we invite rides to join us for a particular event, in case of crashes and to give to sponsors.

2. Transportation - a team car (including racks, race radios, coolers, repair stand/tools and any other dedicated gear), gas, licensing/taxes, regular maintenance etc. This could be for a dedicated team car or putting gas in buddy's car. It also could include airfare.

3. Accommodation - Hotels

4. Race expense - Entry fees, water, food, coke or any other things you have budgets for. I like to have an official team dinner after each race day. Guys can eat together and swap stories about the race. This helps with team bonding and also lets guys really get to understand how their team mates think about racing.

5. Team equipment - This should cover consumables like lubes, cleaners, cables, brake pads and other consumables like tires/tubes (if not sponsored).

If you score a big budget then you can start to include things like cassettes, chains, chainrings and spare parts like spokes, bearings, bar tape etc.

This is how I've run my teams and how I spend our money. I am also careful to keep clear and accurate books (with receipts) and I present them to the cash sponsors at the end of the season. In some cases they can use them for tax purposes but mainly I do it to demonstrate where the money is going. I have always gotten a favourable response from this and it helps built confidence in the sponsor.

I hope that helps.
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Old 09-30-08, 10:28 PM
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Bob.... what about the ROI for the sponsors? How do you pitch that, calculate it, promise it? What are they looking for ( I know many sponsors don't care, they just want to support the sport )
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Old 10-01-08, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
Bob.... what about the ROI for the sponsors? How do you pitch that, calculate it, promise it? What are they looking for ( I know many sponsors don't care, they just want to support the sport )
Yeah, that's always the tough one.

I have a couple of points that I make. If it's a bike company or product we are using I offer product testing. This applies to very few sponsors, however, and works well here but may not work so well other places.

I most instances, even if you approach head office of a bike/frame/wheel company, they will refer you to the local distributor. Sponsorship falls to them in their market. Distributors don't need product testing. Manufacturers do.

I also talk about the kind of exposure we can give their products. Personally, I like to do cross promotion or joint promotions using the team as the vehicle. For magazine ads this has the advantage of spreading the cost across several sponsors. It also makes the ad a little different from most you see in magazines.

You can also offer to get them involved in a local event. It doesn't have to be a race. Maybe a charity ride or some kind of family/fun ride that finishes at a race local. After they ride they can watch a crit. This actually works pretty well. If you know an organizer you can try to tie the two together. Both would benefit from it.

Having a team web site also helps. You can link you sponsors to it and they can link theirs to yours. My last team's site had a section where riders did product reviews of our sponsored equipment. This was pretty popular with the industry sponsors.

You can offer to have riders show up at the sponsors place of business for some kind of either public or inter-office ride/promotion. I know one team that used to send someone to call numbers at the local bingo hall. They shared in the evening's proceeds and promoted their non-industry sponsors products at the same time (their primary sponsor was a carpet company).

One thing I point out to non-industry sponsors is the buzz a group of riders all decked out in full team kit makes. You are basically rolling billboards. Races are actually the worst place to promote your (non-industry) sponsor. It amounts to so little time. BUT training comprises MUCH more time. 6 guys training 15 hours a week each equals 90 hours of rolling billboard time. A much better ROI than advertising on the side of a bus (which people tune out).

One year we had a secondary sponsor that was an old age home. It was part way up a mountain that we often trained on. We were like rolling sandwich boards passing through the towns and villages up and down the mountain.

These are a few ideas. Each one has to be specifically tailored to the needs of you sponsor. Do a little research, get to know a little about a potential sponsor before you approach them. Direct your pitch specifically at their needs and to scale. By this I mean don't ask a major corporation for $100. I made this mistake the first time I tried to find non-industry cash sponsors. I approached a BIG company here and asked for too little (they own a professional baseball team). They told me that it was not worth their time. They were right.

I hope this gives you a few ideas. The main thing is to be creative and to try to understand what a potential sponsor may be looking for. Also make sure your riders know who the sponsors are, where they are and at least something about what they make or do. I remember talking to one rider and asking him about his title sponsor (we were staged and bored and it was a new team I didn't recognize). The guy had no idea. Nice.
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Old 10-09-08, 08:47 AM
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Old 10-09-08, 09:49 AM
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Bob makes some excellent points.

Also I would add that ROI is very difficult to quantify. There are a few professional firms that track and detail exposure from all sources of media and on-site (and are very expensive to employ). There really is no concrete industry standard when it comes to print, TV and web costs.

TV time (local/cable) depends on channel, demographic and geographical reach.
Same for print, and internet ( i.e. cpc and cpm ) impression costs seem to vary greatly.
So formulating a ROI can be and is very difficult.

I was performing this as an end of the year report to my sponsors, but the varying costs of exposure time in all media's made it nearly impossible to pin down realistic numbers. So, instead I began to compose Cost-Benefit Ratio Reports. Which for my application made it easier to quantify the C/B's of sponsor involvement.

Basically, a sponsor wants to know and see a "Benefit" which can be in the form
of direct or indirect sales. Or even just brand exposure. It is creating a potential
sale or use that is important, but not the be all end all either. Good will can go
a long way.

As far as proposals go, I would also add a 'Media' section - where you detail some of the outlets you could provide exposure. Local cable channel, local/town newspapers, and of course a website. You could run a food drive in your town and invite the local rag to cover it. You could have some team members volunteer at the library to teach kids to read or whatever else they may need in the way of volunteers. Maybe work with the PD to run a bike safety clinic, etc. There are many ways to provide exposure to a potential sponsor - just make sure it is always positive, and if it can relate to their business even better!

When you request cash/money from a potential sponsor, you have to understand the "opportunity costs for the potential sponsor." Meaning, if you request $500, from a potential sponsor, you must realize that the $500 could be utilized in other ways. So, you need to show how you can maximize those dollars, in which you and your team can provide more benefits than say a small newspaper ad, or local cable commercial, and so on would. Bang for the buck so to speak. Always track and record every single detail as well.

A print ad will run in a few editions perhaps, same for the possible cable commercial, but you and your team could and should be promoting a sponsor all year long. That might be the difference in getting the money. Plus, having yourself and team members readily available provides the potential of creating a more personal relationship than say the newspaper or cable sales rep.

Each member becomes a "representative" of said sponsor. This can be a great marketing tool...or a disaster depending on the members themselves. it is extremely important to stress this to each individual of your team. Remember, first and foremost - your team is a Business, not a hobby, a game, or sideline.
Think like this, convey this message and always be professional. It goes a long way.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
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Old 10-09-08, 12:02 PM
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/end thread.


























...just kidding...
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Old 10-09-08, 12:19 PM
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Take your estimated budget and double it.
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Old 10-09-08, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Booger View Post
Take your estimated budget and double it.
The only problem with doing that is that it becomes a little suspicious if you attach an item by item budget. Padding? Maybe. Outright doubling? No.


However...Attached to my budget for 2009 was a list of product needed for the season. Some will hopefully be sponsored and some will have to be paid for out of the budget.

I included Quark PMs for everyone.
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