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Dead Man
01-01-2016, 10:27 PM
Howdy

This season, I'd decided to do a partial sponsorship of my (essentially non-racing) "team" via my roofing company... at least get us some new nice kit, maybe fund some entry fees, etc. No expectation of any return on the investment, and the investment would be small. But tonight, sucking on bloody marys instead of hitting my intended training ride, it just hit me: Why don't I just full-on start a whole new team and sponsor it for real??

I mean... who is our target market? Crap... if the exposure lands my company even a couple residential jobs, it'd fund a whole team's worth of NICE kit and neutral wheels and a pile of tubs and possibly even more.

Why the hell haven't I ever thought of this before?

But since I know jack crap about sponsoring, or assembling an actually-competitive team... I figured I should probably just post this up.

Tell me what I don't even know I don't know??

Some things I wonder: what's an appropriate level of subsidization? I'm obviously talking amateur racing here... I'm not buying bikes and . But if I'm going to do 100% ownership/sponsorship, what's a good level of benefit to offer to attract talent? Partial kit? Full kit? Race license and entry fees? Free beer and dope? What else is there? In other words..... what's this gonna cost me?

Thanks

-B

Gummee
01-02-2016, 07:59 AM
I got nuthin, but the thought's crossed my mind too

M

jr59
01-02-2016, 08:33 AM
I would create a non profit 501c3???? for my race team. Or at least talk to my CPA about how and what you can/could do.

You could say you are trying to promoting bike safety and get out and be active. Put on a safety clinic or 2 and you should be golden.....I think

Mikej
01-02-2016, 08:33 AM
I can tell you this- our cycling team has a phenomenal clothing bill$$$
Also be prepared to never see half of your team once free kit is handed out. Our team also has an accountant and tax I'D as a non profit.

shovelhd
01-02-2016, 08:34 AM
You will need to consider a bunch of things.

What is your budget?
How many categories do you want to support?
How many riders are you comfortable supporting, beyond money?
Do you want to support men and women equally?
Do you want this to be an invitational team?
Are you focused on grassroots racing, national racing, or development?

Back in the day I was fully supported at the Cat2 level. Bikes, tires, kits, race fees, etc. Those days are over.

The last Masters team I rode for provided three full kits each year, and cost for anything else like vests, jackets, etc. We got a new helmet every two years. Entry fees to NCC and one race series were paid. We had about ten members every year. Invitation only.

The club I belong to has a racer rewards program. You have to buy your own everything although kit prices are reasonable. Depending on how much you raced and how well you did, you got a rewards check at the end of the year. When I "won" the club championship I got a check for just under a grand. I know people that got more in other years.

You might want to think about sponsoring a club racing team. You can get all of the same rewards...your own kit, etc., but you will have help doing all the logistics...like designing the kit, choosing a vendor, ordering, delivery, returns...plus all of the USAC stuff.

echelon_john
01-02-2016, 08:47 AM
Biggest consideration for me would be who's on the team? If you want to do it so your crew of friends have kit to wear and a little focus, that's cool, and realistic. You get your name out a bit, you build some goodwill. Maybe give each rider $100 entry fee subsidy, or pick up their season pass to a training series.

If you're talking about a REAL team, then you're talking about recruiting riders who will represent your brand, not be d-bags in traffic wearing your jersey, etc. Much more of an effort (and time suck) than the informal scenario that was your first thought.

Personally, if it were me I'd either do #1 (informal), or if I was really determined to formalize a team, it would be either juniors or women. Two groups that can generally benefit from sponsorship/support more than your typical Cat 2-3-4/Masters dude. I think you'd get more appreciation for the effort you put in, and it would be cool to be part of from a rider development POV.

And don't forget the maxim about needing to spend $2 in marketing for every $1 in sponsorship. Probably less true now with the power & pervasiveness of social media, but the point is that to realize any 'return' (used loosely) you need to promote the team through images, stories, etc. Sachs is a good example of a team manager who milks every ounce of potential from social media. Might not cost a lot of $, but definitely an investment in time & effort.

oldpotatoe
01-02-2016, 09:10 AM
Biggest consideration for me would be who's on the team? If you want to do it so your crew of friends have kit to wear and a little focus, that's cool, and realistic. You get your name out a bit, you build some goodwill. Maybe give each rider $100 entry fee subsidy, or pick up their season pass to a training series.

If you're talking about a REAL team, then you're talking about recruiting riders who will represent your brand, not be d-bags in traffic wearing your jersey, etc. Much more of an effort (and time suck) than the informal scenario that was your first thought.

Personally, if it were me I'd either do #1 (informal), or if I was really determined to formalize a team, it would be either juniors or women. Two groups that can generally benefit from sponsorship/support more than your typical Cat 2-3-4/Masters dude. I think you'd get more appreciation for the effort you put in, and it would be cool to be part of from a rider development POV.

And don't forget the maxim about needing to spend $2 in marketing for every $1 in sponsorship. Probably less true now with the power & pervasiveness of social media, but the point is that to realize any 'return' (used loosely) you need to promote the team through images, stories, etc. Sachs is a good example of a team manager who milks every ounce of potential from social media. Might not cost a lot of $, but definitely an investment in time & effort.

Vecchio's sponsored a men's team, some juniors(Timmy Duggan was one) and a woman's team. My take-away? Women and juniors. Men's team was frustrating from the very first day. Too much, 'whathaveyoudoneformelately' attitude, self centered, average racer/cyclist butt-heads..by-in-large. About 15% of the team were 'worth it, the rest a waste of time.

Also, expensive.

shovelhd
01-02-2016, 09:20 AM
Richard Sachs does a fantastic job, but he is dealing with international class athletes. That's a completely different deal than grassroots Women and Juniors.

If development is your focus, you must consider the time sink that it is going to be to do it right. Trash the Seniors and Masters all you want, but the right group of cats will manage themselves.

echelon_john
01-02-2016, 09:32 AM
Not sure if you were responding to me, but I wasn't trashing anyone, simply expressing from experience where the more gratifying relationships seem to be from a sponsor perspective.

And it's true that the Sachs team is on a different level, but the opportunities for promotion created by social media are equally important (and equally available) whether you're established or just starting out. It just takes time, effort, and some creativity. The most successful grassroots teams have a cohesive image, 'message' and culture that is much more important to capturing eyeballs than a focus purely on results.

Just my 2「.




Richard Sachs does a fantastic job, but he is dealing with international class athletes. That's a completely different deal than grassroots Women and Juniors.

If development is your focus, you must consider the time sink that it is going to be to do it right. Trash the Seniors and Masters all you want, but the right group of cats will manage themselves.

carpediemracing
01-02-2016, 11:29 AM
My Carpe Diem Racing team was like this. When I managed/had a shop it was the shop team. After the shop I kept it alive using my own money.

I think I spent $4-5k a year on kits. I know one year I did about $8k, maybe $10k. I collected wholesale kit cost from the members, who were friends who wanted to race flying the CDR name, or just wanted to ride in the kit. I had no other sponsorship, gave nothing, received nothing. I think some years I was $5k in the hole on the club, but that was my hobby and it was okay with me. I didn't really have a business to write off, just race promotion (but that was the reason for the club, etc etc etc).

USAC membership was $175 or something, I forget. I haven't renewed this year. You get a race director license if you want to hold a race. You get some liability from USAC.

Your company's liability policy should cover you, but make sure with your agent. YOu don't want to get sued because someone gets hurt in your kit (rider/driver/whatever) and has to sue you to avoid bankruptcy (think medical bills). Suing can be totally not personal, just a need, but it happens.

Kits - you can get low volume kits. I know and like Verge. They have a low volume version of their kit. Don't expect too much of a discount from anyone until you hit bike shop quantities, like 25 of each piece. Some kit companies bundle like items, so shorts, bib shorts, are counted together, short sleeve jerseys and skinsuit tops are counted as another. Jackets usually separate. Things add up quickly.

You can sponsor a shop team/club, but you give up design control.

gotta go

parco
01-02-2016, 01:35 PM
I agree with Peter. A Junior's team would be very rewarding and probably much less hassle. The shop team I was on started out great but quickly imploded. It became more about meetings and less about riding. We never did get the promised kit and at one point the club president wanted to have a car wash to raise money.

Dead Man
01-02-2016, 01:42 PM
It happens to be that I've ALSO been wanting to start up a local junior/youth cycling club, with the hope of a competitive team eventually growing out of it, just for sake of my own kids. I hadn't even thought about sponsorship, for that, but I guess I certainly would be - figured I'd probably be subsidizing to some degree... but the bikes. The bikes have held me up - youth especially, but even junior sizes are hard to find and expensive, and here in my キキキキty little town it's all $75 Walmart MTBs.

I've been meaning to post a thread on building up 650 junior size frames from steel tube kits... but even building the kits (and doing the welding myself for free) I'm still looking at $500/pop for a proper road bike, with old used groups and handbuilt cheap wheels (also free labor from me).. I just don't see these hick town section-8 single mothers forking out any kind of money so their kids can "go ride bikes with that spandex wearing fag"

Dead Man
01-02-2016, 01:45 PM
If the point is just to get my brand out there and do a good thing, I can build a Portland-based junior team. That'd probably be the solution there.

I also have to admit that at least 49% of the appeal of this whole idea, however, was the ability to better justify training for my own racing, and more saturdays on the race course - since, being team captain and manager, riding bikes would be part of my JOB

How can she bitch at me about my riding when it's officially part of my job? :beer:

Ronsonic
01-02-2016, 06:30 PM
Howdy

This season, I'd decided to do a partial sponsorship of my (essentially non-racing) "team" via my roofing company... at least get us some new nice kit, maybe fund some entry fees, etc. No expectation of any return on the investment, and the investment would be small. But tonight, sucking on bloody marys instead of hitting my intended training ride, it just hit me: Why don't I just full-on start a whole new team and sponsor it for real??

-B

I know nothing about this, but think I know some of the questions. USAC will want a team membership and have rules. I'd share some bloody marys with someone who's got a team and pick his brain especially about how his accountant handles it. Maybe talk to the guy with a race car parked out front of his muffler shop about his accountant's approach. I'd also make sure that the team budget was sufficient to put it's owner/manager on a suitable bike for each course being raced that season and deducted from the company's advertising budget.

Climb01742
01-02-2016, 07:30 PM
I see two ways you could go:

1. Joe's Roofing Cycling Team

2. 'Fill-in-the-Cause' Cycling Team Sponsored by Joe's Roofing

If you ever hope to recoup your investment by having goodwill lead to some roofing contracts, I'd suggest way #2. Way #1 has little inspiration, memorability, or evocativeness. But way #2 if it was tied to either junior or women's racing could have a much stronger halo effect for your business.

Sponsoring a team vs supporting a cause -- a cause as 'simple' as getting more young people on bikes, or supporting greater access or equality in women's racing -- is a huge difference in public awareness and how folks would view your and your team. To be clear, when I say 'cause' I don't mean it has to be 'big' like fighting a disease or stopping violence against women, though it could be if you wanted to go that route. Instead, a cause could be just a small corner of the world you want to make a little better, like juniors racing as a healthy, positive things for kids to do, or making it possible for a few more women to pursue their athletic dreams.

I'd just give your team a slightly larger mission, do some genuine if small good in your part of the world, as a way to make your team a bit more memorable and give people a reason to root for it/you. A straight up sponsorship can seem a bit self-serving. But if you try to do a little extra good, I think it's easier for folks to care...and ultimately maybe bounce some business your way.

As an example, because of Patagonia's environmental good works, I_always_buy their stuff when I need outdoor clothing, even though I know based purely on function there are other companies making stuff just as good. But when I buy Patagonia I'm supporting something bigger.

Even at the level you're thinking about, you can support something good at very little additional expense. It may take extra effort to think about it and figure it out, and hone the idea you want to get behind, but long-term some good benefits could accrue to you and the idea you support. As others have said, I'd focus on juniors or women and find a 'cause' linked to one of them that you can get behind. Every dollar you spend could do you and others good.

echelon_john
01-02-2016, 07:49 PM
Very well put. "Whippersnappers Junior Development Cycling Team p/b Joe's Roofing"



I see two ways you could go:

1. Joe's Roofing Cycling Team

2. 'Fill-in-the-Cause' Cycling Team Sponsored by Joe's Roofing

If you ever hope to recoup your investment by having goodwill lead to some roofing contracts, I'd suggest way #2. Way #1 has little inspiration, memorability, or evocativeness. But way #2 if it was tied to either junior or women's racing could have a much stronger halo effect for your business.

Sponsoring a team vs supporting a cause -- a cause as 'simple' as getting more young people on bikes, or supporting greater access or equality in women's racing -- is a huge difference in public awareness and how folks would view your and your team. To be clear, when I say 'cause' I don't mean it has to be 'big' like fighting a disease or stopping violence against women, though it could be if you wanted to go that route. Instead, a cause could be just a small corner of the world you want to make a little better, like juniors racing as a healthy, positive things for kids to do, or making it possible for a few more women to pursue their athletic dreams.

I'd just give your team a slightly larger mission, do some genuine if small good in your part of the world, as a way to make your team a bit more memorable and give people a reason to root for it/you. A straight up sponsorship can seem a bit self-serving. But if you try to do a little extra good, I think it's easier for folks to care...and ultimately maybe bounce some business your way.

As an example, because of Patagonia's environmental good works, I_always_buy their stuff when I need outdoor clothing, even though I know based purely on function there are other companies making stuff just as good. But when I buy Patagonia I'm supporting something bigger.

Even at the level you're thinking about, you can support something good at very little additional expense. It may take extra effort to think about it and figure it out, and hone the idea you want to get behind, but long-term some good benefits could accrue to you and the idea you support. As others have said, I'd focus on juniors or women and find a 'cause' linked to one of them that you can get behind. Every dollar you spend could do you and others good.

carpediemracing
01-02-2016, 08:00 PM
Some additional thoughts on the whole thing, now that I can get back on the computer.

First, the Junior/women thing. Unless you're looking to make a super long term commitment to the team (10 years? 20 years) or you're going to stop working and do the team full time, running and organizing your own Junior/Women's team will be an exercise in frustration. Generally speaking it's very difficult to even find a few Juniors or Women, forget about inspiring them to join the same team. Around here, where it's reasonable for women's racing, it's unusual to see a 30 or 40 women field, P1234 (meaning open). Junior racing, similar. Maybe not for cross, and I'm not in cross, but definitely for crits and road races. A field of 20 Juniors is spectacular, and that's combining riders from a 3 or 4 hour driving radius. Ditto Women.

Next, adding a team dilutes the culture, if you will. It takes a certain amount of people hours to do stuff, like put on a race or whatever. Typically teams have one or three people that actually commit significant time to doing such things. When you create another team you'll naturally want such people, but that dilutes things. If you wonder who puts on races it's regular people that have a team around them to help out. You start pulling apart that support structure (by syphoning off the do-ers) and you start disabling the infrastructure that you depend on for races. This has been going on for years now. Based on the number of teams around you'd think there'd be a zillion races, but many teams no longer have anyone capable of holding a race ("capable" can relate to time, energy, knowledge, responsibility, etc).

I belong to a team of "do-ers". There are three separate races (2 series, 1 one day event) the team promotes, plus some charity ride stuff (hole in the wall gang = 3 rides). There are different people working on the different events. Of the maybe 50 or 60 members in the team, for certain events we can rely on a solid 40 or 50 members to show up to help. We can also count on maybe 10-12 to do a lot of background work. That's amazing for one team.

I promote races but I've always tried to be independent of a bike shop (other than mine, when I had one) so inevitably I end up doing much of the work myself. I hired staff (W2s, etc) instead of relying on teams (most are too unreliable).

In terms of sponsoring, do you actually want to make money? If so then you can tie in sponsorship directly to referred jobs, like a commission. This would get the team possibly marketing for you. "Oh, you're getting a roof? You should talk to the guy I race with, he's a good guy." $1000 per roofing job, or something like that.

When I look at sponsorship money (meaning I receive it) my goal is to make the sponsor the money that they gave me. In other words if I get $1000 from someone I want them to be able to tie $1000 gross profit from me. If it means a bike shop sells one $4000 bike because the shop sponsored me, then great. If it means they sell 4000 packs of drink mix, great. I've had a few sponsors tell me that's not an issue, but then I feel a bit bad about the money.

^ my sponsorship approach means I don't really ask for money because it's a lot of work to make that money for the sponsor. Realistically they're better off sending out $1000 worth of direct mail flyers for tune ups, for example.

bewheels
01-03-2016, 02:11 PM
I might as well chime in...I started and ran a team for 10 years (1993-2003). The team is still going strong to this day.

There have been many great bits of advice and I will ultimately end up repeating some of it.

As many have mentioned, it is of the utmost importance that you have an idea of what you are trying put together: a marketing engine, a development/feeder team, a competitive regional team, a fun group of people that race together, etc, etc. The reason this is so important is that it should drive the decisions you make. If you have someone that is a bit of an asshat but crushes races week after week - that may do well for a strong regional team but not so great for a marketing engine and/or a team of fun people.

Another way to think about it is, what do you want the reputation of your team to be?

I will assume that you are in this position because your business is doing well. Your successful business did not happen by accident.
It has a reputation. Your prices, how do you respond to customer issues, how your employees interact with your customers, etc.
You have had to hire/fire people. What do you look for when you hire? How does that align with your overall business goal and philosophy?
Do you recruit? If so, how? If you don't why not (people come to you, you hand pick people, etc)?

All of this is directly applicable to creating a team.
Once you figure out what type of team you want, how are you going to get people on it? This was mentioned before...are you going to hand pick people? If so, they are likely already riding for someone else now. Why would they switch? Will this create animosity between your new team and this other team? This is all just like hiring for your company.

How big a team (as was mentioned before)? Do you want different levels of ability? Do you want to provide different level of support? If you are providing different levels of support, how is this determined?

Ok enough of the questions...
Here is my .02cents of what to do.

Start really really small (3-4 people). You may be surprised to find out how much time you spend on this. So keep it manageable for the first year. You will uncover time/money black hole you did not expect.
These 3-4 people should be people you already know and like.
Keep it fun. This is one of those 'first impression' things. If you immediately get a rep of being the group that wins at any cost, you will never live that down.
Have a goal bigger then any individual on the team (as someone else mentioned). There are a number of ways to do this. This simplest is that any prize money won is given to a predetermined non-profit. This does a couple of things: 1) It establishes your rep in and out of the racing scene. 2) Everyone on the team knows that working together allows them to donate money. It makes team work that much more important. Given that you are in construction I am sure you could do something like Habitat for Humanity or some other construction based good cause.
Do not expect to get any new business because of this endeavor. If you do, great. But keep your expectations in check. As someone else mentioned, you can tie some type of finders fee to new business brought in by a rider. But overall just get through a year expecting no new business from it.

Someone mentioned Richard Sachs's team. He is a member of this forum so he may chime in on his philosophy. But applying his philosophy will work best if you are Richard Sachs...to say he has deep roots in the cycling world is an understatement. He does have a very strong philosophy behind how he runs his team. I sure some time spent with Google you will find it.

There are other teams out there that have done a great job establishing their philosophy. One to call attention to is Tim O'Donnell's Shamrock Cycles cyclocross team. I had the pleasure of talking to Tim last year. He is a very strict "have fun" and "share the fun" team attitude. My understanding is that any rider that loses sight of this can/will lose their spot.

He (and others) also have things in place like:
- Arrive early and stay all day, don't just show up for your race and leave.
- Support everyone on the team not just those in your class.
- Support any/all racers at an event. Not just people on your team.
- Be grateful that someone has stepped up and provided sponsorship.
- Chip in and help...setting up a team tent, getting water, bringing extra food, etc.
- Don't be a dink.
- Don't forget who's name is on your kit. Any behavior you exhibit reflect on you and me (sponsor).

Establishing a team can be rewarding because you know you stepped up and are giving to the sport. But sorting out how you want to go about it does take some planning.

shovelhd
01-03-2016, 02:23 PM
Very well put, bewheels.

bewheels
01-03-2016, 02:50 PM
Oh...one thing you will encounter in spades (old spud referred to it...).

For whatever reason racers think that sponsors owe them something because they ride a bike and enter competitions. I encountered all levels with this attitude - from juniors that have never raced ("but I ride a lot") to Cat 2 ("because I am a Cat 2").

In one particular weak moment of mine when someone came at me with this attitude and I responded with "...well, you eat food too. How about if you go to your local super market and tell them that you want free food because, well... you eat food. See how far that gets you.".

Just like hiring people, the rider's perspective should be based what they can bring to the group/team. Just like hiring, a person is compensated for adding value to the effort. So what value is the rider (employee) bringing to the effort? Not the other way around.