1/3 of the way home and the Macon Bacon are proof you can play sports with fans

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

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