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The Ultimate Toolkit Secrets Revealed


Stay up-to-date on everything going on in the world of ticketing, sponsorship and marketing

with one of the best: Steve DeLay


Congratulations to Jon Spoelstra for being named one of Sports Business Journal’s Champions of the Sports Business Industry.

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  • 29 Sep 2020 10:00 PM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Allen Iverson made it famous. 

    “Practice…we’re talking about practice, not a game.”

    Michael Jordan said it even better.

    “You can practice shooting eight hours a day but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way.  Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

    TWO THINGS WE CAN TAKE FOR GRANTED

    Coming out of the coronavirus world, there are two things I think all of us in the sports world can take for granted:

    1. Selling will be different. Depending on your community, your state and your fan base, the ability to get face to face meetings with top business execs and top group prospects will be more challenging.  Zoom is the new norm and you and your sales staff have to be prepared to sell differently.
    2. Salespeople are well trained. I’ve heard it from numerous Sales Managers and VPs. “My staff will be exceptionally well trained.  We spent our down time role playing every week.”

    BUT…

    Practice is terrific. 

    My question is – Have you practiced the right way to sell? Have you practiced the right way to add sizzle to a Zoom call with a prospective group leader? Have you practiced the right way to do a socially distanced tour of your facility to get new buyers?

    I hear from a lot of teams about their new Zoom presentation. PowerPoints, pictures and graphs so it’s not just a salesperson doing a Zoom call with a prospect and two people staring at each other. Fantastic concept. But, have you practiced the call? Have you gauged your prospect’s responses to your presentation and measured your success? Are your salespeople as good on Zoom as they should be face to face?

    DON’T GIVE UP ON FACE TO FACE

    If you’re in states like California, New York, Oregon or Washington, you may not meet a client in person for another year. However, if you’re working in a state with more relaxed guidelines, there is a pretty high likelihood your prospects want to meet. You can meet at their office in a good sized conference room or meet at the ballpark or arena. 

    Here is why face-to-face meetings are still so critically important.

    At the ECHL marketing meetings in June, Tim Statezni from the Las Vegas Raiders gave some stats on their success in face-to-face meetings vs. virtual meetings when they were selling for their new stadium.


    It shows that the face to face is still much, much stronger than virtual. Wherever possible, face to face still reigns supreme.

    We can take two keys from Michael Jordan’s quote:

    1. Practice the right way, the right techniques. That means if you’re going to do virtual meetings, make sure your salespeople know what to say and how to run those meetings.
    2. Get the fundamentals down. That means making sure your sales staff, wherever possible still focuses on the fundamentals of getting face to face and talking about value. 

    RAMP UP QUICKLY

    As sports teams, we’re in real danger of fans putting us out of sight and out of mind. We see that with tumbling TV ratings. It’s up to our sales teams to bring us back from the abyss. We have to ramp up their training quickly and cost-effectively to do that.

    We can help you save time and ramp up with those fundamentals, the right practice and the right techniques through Group Sales Superstar and B2B Ticket Sales Superstar, our online training programs.   

    Feel free to give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com. I’m happy to help.


  • 22 Sep 2020 5:10 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Use all your resources wisely to succeed this season

    Six weeks. 

    That’s how long you might get between the announcement your season is on and your first home game. And, I don’t think I’m understating this when I say that those six weeks may be the most important six weeks in your franchise’s history. After all, if you don’t come back strong from the pandemic, you may never come back at all.

    If you’re a minor league baseball team, you might have a little longer. The president of a Single-A team told me last week he hopes to have their schedule in late January for a season that starts in early April. Maybe 10 weeks.

    Anyone who has sold group tickets knows that most groups, unless they are buying group tickets to see LeBron and the Lakers, don’t commit until they know what game they will be going to. That means, you have six weeks (or maybe 10 weeks) to sell all the group tickets you need for your first month of games. 

    “Aack,” you might be thinking. No way you’ll succeed. Who knows, maybe you can say some silent prayers that your state government continues to restrict your capacity. Just don’t tell your owner what you are wishing for.

    Whether it’s six weeks or 10 weeks, you’re going to have to move fast to maximize ticket sales, and especially group sales. Staffing, training, execution, more training, finding the group leaders, convincing them to come to an outing.  How to do it all in that short window?

    WE CAN HELP

    This year, more than ever, training is critical. And, I don’t mean the usual ‘pull everyone into the conference room for two days and drill them’ training. I mean quick, inexpensive, down and dirty training that accomplishes everything you need in that short six week window.

    Group Sales Superstar 3.0 can do that for you. Check it out at GroupSalesSuperstar.com.  Here’s why it works:

    • You get the same training as if I was standing in front of your staff. Same content, same video review, same on-going coaching.
    • You don’t have to crowd everyone into the conference room – something certainly not ideal during the coronavirus world.
    • You can start it tomorrow, or as soon as you have your staff back on board.
    • The cost is nominal, just $297 per person. Same as it has been since Day One.

    SEE FOR YOURSELF AT OUR GROUP SALES SUPERSTAR WEBINAR

    Don’t just trust me though. I’m hosting a 45-minute Group Sales Superstar webinar to explain how it works and how your team can benefit.  It’s Thursday, October 8th at noon Eastern.  You can sign up here.  Jess Knott, Director of Sales for the Altoona Curve, will talk about her experience with Group Sales Superstar and Brittany Middleton, Director of Group Sales for the Macon Bacon, will talk about the steps the Bacon took to sell group tickets this past summer.

    It’s your chance to find ways to maximize sales this season.  If you have any questions feel free to give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at SteveDeLay@theultimatetoolkit.com.



  • 31 Aug 2020 6:13 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Sell more tickets with a smaller advertising budget.

    Train more salespeople in less time.

    In essence – Do more with less.

    That’s what’s going to make you a first-ballot sports executive Hall of Famer.

    Or, at least earn you compliments from your boss and gratitude from your team owner.  I know because I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve been in your boss and your owner’s shoes.

    A YEAR LIKE NO OTHER

    We’ve heard it over and over.  2020 is a year like no other.  Especially for the sports world.  When have you ever been in a situation where there is no real certainty when sports that actually have to work to sell tickets will be played again in front of crowds?  (I don’t count the NFL and Power 5 football)

    • Hockey?  No start date yet from the NHL which means no real start date from the AHL and even the ECHL hasn’t yet released their schedule.
    • Basketball? In the same boat, with Adam Silver recently saying they may not start until February or March so they can have fans in the stands.
    • Group of 5 and mid-major college football?  Most if not all have been postponed until spring and maybe even the fall of 2021.
    • Minor League Baseball might seem safe with a start date next April, but they still don’t even know which teams will be in existence with proposed contraction.

    What does it mean for you, the sports executive trying to make sense of it all?  It means you have to fight through the clutter, and, do more with less because no owner is going to want to commit tens of thousands of dollars amid such uncertainty.

    TWO WAYS TO DO MORE WITH LESS

    This summer, the Macon Bacon saw ticket sales success in two areas, ticket packages to Joe Fan (where we matched our 2019 sales, even though we lost ten weeks of marketing during the shutdown)  And - once we could get the group leader on the phone - old-school, handle some individual group orders by phone, group sales.

    To help you accomplish the same successes, we’ve created two new online programs:

    • Digital Ticket Sales Superstar.  We’ll walk you through exactly how we dramatically increased our social and digital following and generated nearly 1,500 ticket package sales with a budget of less than $10,000. 

    Join us for a webinar on it tomorrow, September 1 at 1pm Eastern by clicking here

    • Group Sales Superstar 3.0.  We’ve completely revamped our original online group sales training program with eight new modules and new video feedback.  However, the price is still the same at $297/person.

    Both of these programs can help you sell boatloads more tickets in such an unusual time.  And, they are extremely affordable with payment plans available.  Do more with less and make yourself that first ballot sports executive Hall of Famer.

    If you have questions, feel free to give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com

  • 24 Aug 2020 6:12 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Use your sales staff’s time wisely right now and it will pay huge dividends

    It seems like the movie Groundhog Day.

    You remember the movie where Bill Murray wakes up and keeps repeating the same day over and over.

    Only this time, it’s sports teams and it’s repeating what was happening in March and April.

    With various college football conferences postponing the start of their season and Adam Silver coming out publicly saying the NBA may not start until February or March, teams have to wonder, “What do I do now with my salespeople?

    Thankfully, some teams are using their time wisely and effectively.  I’ve heard it from a Director of Group Sales a an NBA team and the Director of Sales for a Group of Five college who have seen their seasons pushed back.

    “That’s okay.  We’ll have the best group sales prospect database in the country whenever we’ll be able to play again.”

    Both are dead on right.  Their sales staffs are using this time to build up contacts, have conversations about group goals and objectives and when the time comes and the schedule is public, they will be ready to rip. 

    No more, “Checking in to see how you are…” conversations with season ticket holders.  How are they?  They want to get out and do something.  That’s how they are.

    I also heard it from the Director of Marketing for an ECHL team.

    “I’ve added nearly 5,000 followers to our social media and almost as many email addresses.  We’re gonna kill it on ticket packages when we have a schedule.”

    If your sales team is doing the proverbial, “What do we do now?” blank stare, turn them loose with our new Group Sales Superstar 3.0 online training program.  Sure, it may seem scary to spend any money right now but if your staff is already on the payroll, you have to make sure they are productive.

    Likewise, your Marketing Director can have the same proven results with our Digital Ticket Sales class and build your social following, email database and ticket package sales, even without a schedule.

    Check out both programs and our new B2B Tix Superstar online training program by going to courses.theultimatetoolkit.com and you’ll have the best database in the country as well.


    If I can help you in any way, call me at 702-493-2661 or shoot me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com 

  • 18 Aug 2020 6:32 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Our newest online training classes are now priced exactly right for

    sport management programs to prepare their students.

    There are no excuses for a sport management program that fails to prepare their students with the proper ticket sales knowledge and training to get jobs in sports.

    If those programs fiddle around and don’t teach their students about ticket sales and how to sell tickets, it’s their own fault their kids will be unprepared and not get jobs upon graduation.

    I say that because we’ve now taken both our completely revamped Group Sales Superstar online training program and our brand new B2B Tix Superstar online training program and made them very, very affordable for college sport management programs and their students.  Students can take the class for as little as $20/student and have it built right into this or next  semester’s syllabus.  Click here to see exactly how it works.

    The coronavirus pandemic has made on-line training a must-have for teams and online classes a virtual necessity for sports management programs.  Group Sales Superstar and B2B Tix Superstar accomplish both. 

    Not only am I an owner of a sports team looking for qualified salespeople and interns, I’m also a professor teaching classes in ticket sales.  If you want to know how good a student can be after taking this class, check out my student from last semester, Nezzie Miranda and her group sales video.

    If you’re a team looking for salespeople or interns, take this program to your local sports management program and offer to help pay for it.  It will be well worth it to have new recruits already trained. 

    If you’re a professor and want your students to go to the top of the list as soon as teams start hiring salespeople again, give me a call for a demo and I’ll walk you through exactly how this program works and how it can make your students the budding stars of the industry.  I’ll share my syllabus and strategy and let’s create the next generation of ticket sales superstars.

    Give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com and I’m happy to schedule a demo for you and your school.


  • 11 Aug 2020 5:23 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    There is no magic phrase your salespeople can say to change your fans’ minds if they think this

    I couldn’t change his mind. 

    Nor did I really want to.

    I had just come back from a trip to Las Vegas (and a four hour plane flight) and was talking to a friend about the safety of flying on an airline during the coronavirus.  He swore he wasn’t getting on a plane until there was a vaccine.

    I explained:

    • Passengers are asked many questions before even getting a boarding pass.  Could they lie about their health - sure but I think it’s safe to say that the population in general recognizes the magnitude of the coronavirus problem and would answer questions truthfully.
    • The airplanes are sprayed with sanitizer after every single flight.
    • Every passenger wears a mask the entire flight, no matter how uncomfortable.
    • There was no drink service - just the attendants, while wearing gloves and masks, handing out bags that had pretzels and a small water bottle.

    As far as I could tell, in multiple Google searches, there has been no known outbreak or cases related to anyone flying on a plane.

    He wasn’t convinced.  “Nope.  I’ll drive wherever I want to go.  If I can’t drive, I ain’t going.”

    No problem,” I said.  Better he feel safe then put himself in what he felt was an uncomfortable situation.

    THERE IS NO CHANGING THE MINDS OF FANS CONCERNED ABOUT COMING TO YOUR GAMES.

    It’s the same for fans concerned about coming to your games.  You can tell them over and over what you’ve done to make your games safe.  You can have the CDC bless your games.  You can have everyone walking around in a plastic bubble.  But, if they don’t believe it, there is no magic words or rebuttal that will change their minds.

    So, don’t worry about convincing them to come to your games.

    At The Ultimate Toolkit, we’ve recently launched two new online programs for teams to help sell tickets.  Our online training for group sales and B2B ticket sales are a tremendous resource for teams who don’t want to bring all of their salespeople together in a crowded conference room for two days with on-site sales training.  You can see them at https://courses.theultimatetoolkit.com/

    Ironically, team execs keep asking me the same wrong question.  “Do they help my salespeople convince fans to come to games during coronavirus?”  I answer unequivocally, “No.”  There is no magic bullet or secret phrase that convinces fans that your games are safe.  The fan is either in or they are out.

    I keep telling those execs they are asking the wrong question.  The question should be:

    “Do your online sales training programs help my salespeople learn what’s necessary to succeed selling tickets during coronavirus?”

    The answer to that question is unequivocally, “Yes.”

    Your salespeople, whether you’ve hired them brand-new in the last few weeks or brought them back after months of furlough or layoffs, need these techniques and refreshers to succeed moving forward. 

    Don’t get bogged down in worrying about how to sell tickets to people who are concerned about safety in the coronavirus world.  You just can’t change their minds.  Get your salespeople focused on how to sell tickets to people who are interested in coming to your games in the coronavirus world.

    If I can help with a demo or answer questions, please give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com

  • 05 Aug 2020 6:43 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    If you do the same old, same old and expect it to work, you’re going to struggle


    It’s going to be different going forward.  At least for the next year or two.

    I’m talking about how you sell tickets.

    Seems like a pretty easy statement to make right?  You’re right.

    But, are you prepared to sell your team’s tickets in the most cost-effective way?

    My team, the Macon Bacon are one of just a handful of teams playing this summer in front of fans.

    Over the last two months, I’ve written repeatedly on some of our challenges in selling tickets.  The difficulty in selling group tickets when groups aren’t meeting.  Businesses aren’t entertaining clients and prospects so we’ve had to work extra hard to get our business ticket holders to use their seats.  Casual “something to do on a Friday night” single game buyer fans have been scared in to thinking any gathering with more than 10 people is a death trap.

     Sound terrible?  It’s not all doom and gloom.

    Joe Fan is coming to games.  Families are coming to games.  We’ve matched our 5 and 10 game plan sales from a year ago, even though we had a 2 ½ month pause to our selling efforts – right smack dab in the middle of our prime sales and marketing time.  Our email marketing and digital advertising continues to generate an ROI of $12:1, meaning for every dollar we spent, we got $12 back in ticket sales.

    That’s why we are announcing today a new tool to help you sell tickets to the people most likely to buy them.

    THE ULTIMATE TOOLKIT DIGITAL TICKET SALES CLASS

    We’ve taken everything we’ve learned in the last four years of about digital ticket marketing and poured it in to an online class to help you succeed in this ‘new normal’ environment of selling tickets.  You can see all the details at https://theultimatetoolkit.com/Online-Digital-Ticket-Sales-Course

    There are two key parts to this program:

    • How to grow your social and digital footprint to attract fans who will buy tickets
    • How to market to those fans using Facebook advertising to sell ticket packages and single game tickets.

    Coming soon as a value-added bonus will also be our Inside Sales on-line training program to help your sales staff and interns convert your marketing efforts in to sales.

    This class will teach your Marketing Director how to cost effectively get ticket packages and single game tickets sold to Joe Fan, the group of people who are anxiously awaiting the chance to go to your games.

    It is the most cost-effective way to sell tickets in this environment.  Forget about large mass media budgets like you used to do.  We’ve never spent more than $10,000 total in a year in advertising for the Macon Bacon and have regularly sold more than 1,500 ticket packages.

    To learn more, take a look at https://theultimatetoolkit.com/Online-Digital-Ticket-Sales-Course

    or give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.

    As always, we’re here to help you succeed now and in the future.

  • 20 Jul 2020 6:26 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Fans are still following our coronavirus guidelines happily eating, drinking and smiling

    The first two games weren’t a fluke.

    We are now ten games in to our 30 game home schedule at the Macon Bacon and fans are loving it.  Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

    • Fans follow the rules better than our players.  The fans social distance happily.   They space out entering the stadium, space out in concession lines and space out when leaving the stadium.  No problems at all.  Our college-aged players, on the other hand, have to be reminded constantly to do the same.  But let’s be realistic, just about every 18-22 year old thinks they are invincible.
    • They’ll buy plenty of food, drinks and merchandise.  We’re seeing 20-30% increases in our F&B per caps and 250-300% increases in merchandise sales.  Quite frankly, we’re not sure why but aren’t complaining.  It could be a number of factors: 1) fans just want to get out and enjoy themselves and spend a few bucks 2) less people in line means quicker transactions or 3) the Macon Eggs merchandise is that stylish.  Be prepared to expand your concession and merchandise points of sale to generate more revenue.  My recommendation is 2x or even 3x, especially beer portables.  You need plenty of safe locations for the fans to stand in line spaced out.
    • Some fans will willingly wear masks.  We do not have a mask mandate in Macon but we still have 30-40% of our fans wearing masks.  Savannah, GA does have a mask mandate but it’s virtually unenforceable as fans can take their mask off when they eat or drink and the mandate is primarily in effect when social distancing isn’t possible.  Both Savannah and the Bacon have been operating at about 30-35% capacity so we are forcing social distancing based on seating.
    • Group sales are tough.  Because we’re playing through the surge, groups are still not meeting or encouraging outings.  We’ve seen a huge drop in group sales because of that which means we’ve had to get more creative on old-school group marketing, digging deeper to find new groups and really helping group leaders understand how we’ve made the games safe. Training your group sales staff is critical for success in this area.  START EARLY!  To help you, check out our newest online group sales training program at www.groupsalessuperstar.com.
    • The no-show rate is high.  Macon has seen roughly 40% of our fans not use their tickets.  The Savannah Bananas are in the same range.  We know group sales would dramatically bring up the usage rate but we also fear that season ticket holders who typically give out their tickets to friends, employees, clients and prospects aren’t getting the usage.  Fans who bought tickets to use themselves are still coming at the same rate as last season.  This is an even stronger reason to make sure you have an aggressive email, digital marketing strategy to sell smaller ticket packages.  Our season ticket sales are down but our 5 and 10 game sales are up 25% and they are showing up.  We can help you there with our Ultimate Toolkit Digital Ticket Sales Class.
    • Use common sense.  Think through every aspect of your business and find ways for less need to touch credit cards, exchange cash, touch doors etc.  With common sense, it’s easy to make it safe for your fans.  Click here to see the Game Experience Road Map we created for our fans.  It was emailed out to all account holders and is posted visibly on our website.  The cost to make it safe and comfortable for fans is way less than we expected and the positive response from fans has been well worth it.
    • Scrutinize every aspect of your expenses.  We’ve made significant changes to how we do business and they’ve saved money and had virtually no impact on the fans.  Don’t just blindly lay off ticket salespeople when you can cut elsewhere.  For example:

      • Less road travel.  We are playing 30 home games and 17 road games.  This saved a tremendous amount of expense on travel.  We are playing the Macon Eggs for 8-10 home games, really just a split squad game against ourselves.  The fans don’t care and don’t mind.  They just want to hang out and watch the game.  Who says you have to have an equal number of home and road games?  Our first half and second winners are decided by best winning percentage from games played amongst actual CPL teams.
      • Shortening the playoffs.  Instead of three rounds of playoffs, we have one game, first half winner vs. second half winner.  That one game builds to a crescendo instead of a long, drawn out bunch of series that fans don’t care about.
      • Cheaper umpires.  Instead of professional umpires on the way up, we went with local college certified umpires and cut our expenses in half with no noticeable difference in quality and no complaints from coaches or players.
      • Cutting game day staff.  We have one staff member who is relentless on not letting any of our game day staff stand around.  If they have no job to do, she cuts them and saves us money.  We’ll cut our game day staff expenses by nearly $25,000 this year because of her focus.


    We’re going to take these cost savings in to the 2021 season when hopefully our attendance will be back to full throttle.  That leap in revenue with these cost savings will make 2021 look very promising financially and make up for what’s lost in 2020.

    Sports is what brings communities together.  We can do this the right way, safely and economically and help people have some fun.  If you have questions on what we’ve done, give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com

  • 06 Jul 2020 8:31 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    This weekend we witnessed first-hand people will come to sporting events and follow the rules

    James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams” was right.

    People will come to sporting events in these unusual times.  Even more important, they will follow our rules and guidelines and be thankful to do so.

    This past weekend, baseball was back in Macon, GA with Macon Bacon games in front of crowds of 1300 on Thursday and Saturday, about 35% of our normal capacity.  We followed in the footsteps of our colleagues in Savannah as well as Bismarck, ND and various cities in the Texas Collegiate League.

    And, despite the fear and despair you read about in the media every day, it worked.  It worked in Macon, Savannah, Texas and in Bismarck.  We weren’t perfect and will continue to get better as we play the rest of our season but don’t let anyone scare you.  You can put on a sporting event with fans in a safe and successful manner. 

    And, I will say this.  The fans will return.  The fans will pay attention and follow your rules and guidelines.  And most importantly, the fans will be thankful you’ve put the time, energy and effort in to allowing them to enjoy getting out of their houses and doing things with family and friends in a safe and comfortable manner.

    Here’s a summary of what we learned in Macon and from my conversations with teams in the other states that are playing.

    • Fans follow instructions.  I heard it early from John Bollinger in Bismarck who started with three teams in his stadium on June 15 and it was echoed by Uri Geva in Texas.  The fans will follow your instructions.  They stayed in their seats and didn’t move around and get too close to each other.  They social distanced at the concession lines.  They didn’t crowd each other on the way in or way out.  We saw roughly 30% of our fans wearing masks (we don’t have a mask mandate in Macon).  Savannah does have a mask mandate and fans still came out and enjoyed themselves. 
    • Take the fun to them.  Ironically, Uri Geva told me the fans in Texas were so attentive to staying in their seats and social distancing that they weren’t going to the beer stands.  He made a quick adjustment mid-game and pulled workers out of the stands and started vending beer and snacks in the stands in a safe manner.  The fans loved it and per caps soared.  A common theme from our games and other team’s games was that fans were itching to spend some money on food and drinks and merchandise.  We saw a 30% increase in beer sales in Macon and a solid bump in overall concessions per cap, even with more than 90% of our fans in the building there on our All-You-Can-Eat program.
    Likewise, a 35% capacity ‘sellout’ doesn’t make for great crowd buzz.  Be prepared to take the entertainment up 10 notches to create the buzz that normally comes with a full-house.  Dancing ushers, sing-alongs, peanut vendors throwing peanuts around 10 rows and more get people talking and laughing.
    • Merchandise kills it.  In Macon, we more than tripled our normal merchandise per cap for the first two games.  And this was with allowing just four people on our store at one time.  Savannah saw huge merchandise numbers, as did Bismarck.  Quite frankly, we didn’t have any radically new items in the store as we are trying to manage cash flow and not have a lot of inventory sitting around.  The fans just wanted to get out and spend some money on things.  Something they may have been afraid to do over the last few months.
    • Your teenagers won’t follow instructions.  I don’t have any kids but for those of you who do, you know what I’m saying.  We did have to regularly remind our ‘invincible’ game day staff young people to keep their masks on during our first game.  They did well when interacting with customers but when there was a break, they would pull their masks down and talk to each other within a foot or two of each other, just like normal.  It’s mainly for safety but also for optics for our fans and the media for them to know we are taking every step to be safe.  We finally got their attention with a Game 2 pre-game discussion about what would happen to the games if half the game day staff went down with infection and the impact that could have on their wonderful part-time summer jobs.  They got the message and were much better for game two.
    Likewise with our players, their enthusiasm for wearing a mask in 95 degree Georgia heat wasn’t very high.  Our manager had to regularly remind them as well.  To solve the problem, we are looking into the wrap around, breathable masks for all staff and players instead of the ear-loop masks.  They are worth the investment to make your game day staff happy and protect against the risk of infection.

    PLAN Z

    Undoubtedbly, we will face challenges over the rest of the season.  As virus infections continue to grow, the odds of one of our players or employees being infected is entirely possible. 

    We have Plans B through Z ready, including a disaster plan of what happens if our entire staff goes down.  We are preparing checklists for every person’s game day responsibilities and are compiling a list of season ticket holders and local supporters who we can call in a pinch to help us cook food, sell beer, direct parking and fill in the blanks to help us put a game on if the worst-case scenario hits.  Think like FEMA and disaster preparedness so you are ready no matter what.

    As I’ve said throughout this pandemic.  People want to come to games.  The number of “Thank you for doing this,” comments I heard from our fans in our first two games was heart-warming.  We can make sports what brings us all together and do it in front of fans in a safe, healthy and enjoyable manner.  But, if you’re a team exec or team owner, don’t just wait and hope for normalcy to return.  Learn to operate in the new normal, getting started early on selling tickets and you can do this.

    If you have questions on what we did and how we did it, feel free to give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.

  • 29 Jun 2020 6:01 AM | Anonymous

    The danger of waiting to sell group tickets

    I was wrong.

    That’s why I’m giving you this warning.

    I assumed when we set our plans to restart the Macon Bacon season July 2nd, groups would be the product that buyers would flock to. 

    After all, the economy had plummeted so how many businesspeople were going to buy season tickets or ticket packages to entertain clients or reward employees?

    Single game buyers would come out if they felt safe (we have taken plenty of precautions) but they are too hard to predict and control with weather and who knows what other issues that might come up for them.

    My thought was groups were going to be climbing the walls to do things, even in a socially distant manner.  Here’s what we’ve learned:

    • If they aren’t getting together, they aren’t getting together.  For example, a typical staple group type like churches still aren’t having much in the way of services, even in Georgia which has been pretty open.  We heard from a number of returning church groups that they didn’t feel comfortable endorsing and organizing a ‘group outing’ when their church still had limitations on mixing and mingling. 
    Same with companies.  If the companies weren’t yet fully back in their offices, many of our returning corporate groups said they couldn’t support company outings for employees to get together if they couldn’t even get together in the office.  Likewise, salespeople weren’t meeting with clients very regularly so having a suite night or Party Deck night was going to be a tough slog to get clients and prospects to come out.
    • We just don’t talk any more.  Many groups weren’t having their typical monthly meetings in person to share activities and events.  Sure, they could still send out emails and post on their group’s Facebook page and other simple tools but the lack of in-person gatherings have really hurt communication.
    • Where are you?  Groups we had booked before the pandemic were fine.  They already had dates picked out and had spread the word.  New groups??  Big challenge.  We’ve had trouble finding them, even with an extensive effort during the lockdown to chase new group leads.  Once we have gotten them on the phone, we hear concerns about quick turnaround and spreading the word. 

    WHAT TO DO?  WHATEVER TO DO?

    Thankfully, our staff didn’t just rub their hands and moan ‘woe is me’.  Like everyone else, we’ve improvised.

    • Zoom sales calls.  Our outside salesperson last week scheduled nine Zoom sales pitches with companies to talk season tickets and group outings.  The weakness is the ‘show rate’ for Zoom calls or scheduled phone calls isn’t nearly as high as in-person meetings but you do the best you can.  On the bright side, she thinks 3-4 will close for outings this season.
    • Old-school.  I had to admit it but because we have to spread out seating for groups, we’ve had to go a little old school with helping group leaders sort out ticket orders, take group member orders over the phone and send out emails for the groups.
    • Single game push.  Those of you who know me know I hate relying on single game sales.  But, this year is different.  We have to do what we have to do.  We’re focused on capturing names and building our database of emails and social media followers as part of it.
    • Database building.  I was talking with the Director of Group Sales from the NBA last week who said he took to hear some of what I’ve been preaching the last few months on finding new group contacts and has kept his staff’s focus on just that with huge dividends in new leads.  As soon as the NBA has a schedule for 2020-21, he’s expecting a big run up.

    Take my warning to heart.  We’ve had tremendous response from smaller ticket packages in our re-start but groups take more time.  If you’re not starting until fall, get ready for a grind.  Start now with database building and be prepared for a lot more work.

    The Macon Bacon start at home this Thursday with another game on Saturday night.  We’re ‘sold out’ with our coronavirus capacity at 1200.  In next Monday’s column, I’ll let you know how it went and what we learned so other teams can learn from what we did right and what we did wrong.  Happy 4th of July.

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Call Steve at 702-493-2661

stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com

18716 Nautical Drive, Unit #6

Cornelius, NC 28031

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