View Full Version : Business Accumen?
07-10-2007, 11:35 AM
Hi - I work in the event industry / business.
I am constantly challenged by the lack of some (not all) race directors who simply lack basic business accumen.
Contracts mean nothing.
Contracts are routinely broken.
Relationships are ended on a whim- when said directors opt to use another company without notification to the prior vendor to at least respond to a competing effort.
Contract clauses of first right of refusal are broken in such cases.
This is especially frustrating where a relationship has been very good and long standing.
For the Conference next year in Ft. Lauderdale - maybe a business 101 session for race directors. Maybe a debate or panel regarding such why this occurs and the feedback from the races regarding how they really feel about contracts.
Maybe a seminar about good business practice and ethics.
Food for thought.
07-10-2007, 02:46 PM
It sounds from your post that you feel you've witnessed a lack of ethics related to one or more road races somewhere. This can happen in any sport, however I've noticed that in some races that are organized to raise money for a charity, overzealous directors/race management personnel will pull some of the things you mentioned to cut costs and bring in as much as possible for their cause.
07-11-2007, 10:32 AM
I have been struggling to find info on business practices
for race directors (sponsor pricing, revenue mix, etc)
without much success. What am I missing?
Note: Is there an authority (RRM?) on road race 'best practices'.
07-11-2007, 12:12 PM
A great point and thought.
A road race director business guide, or "playbook" would be a great tool for anyone - a simple guide on good business practice and the value of contracts. Key to this is communication and the appropriate way to solicit and conduct an RFP or bidding process and steps to making a decision whereby both parties are granted the same notification, participation and respect when decisions are made.
I know that every race has their own "playbook" for operations, but how many races have a business model, or guide for vendor selection, review and renewal?
Trailrunner - I understand the charity events and the need to cut costs. However, my business is something that every race uses. It is something that almost every runner uses, and frankly expects.
It is not an ancillary optional service, or "bell and whistle".
So, I do not think the cost factor is the issue, because this service just does not get removed completely to bolster contribution levels.
Instead, the vendor gets removed in place of another when a races makes a decision to switch, often times without prior notice, without regard to a contract and terms, and without the common courtesy to notify the existing vendor.
This is not limited to small local races. It occures (and has occured in our experience) with larger, nationally recognized races, destination events.
Again, a business accumen seminar, or a business 101 seminar in the RRM Conference, Portland, wherever would, I think, be extremely beneficial and well attended. If anything, make it panel discussion and a general session topic.
07-11-2007, 04:06 PM
well Warmsnow and Tod, perhaps you guys would benefit from attending the RRM Race Directors' meeting and trade show in Ft. Lauderdale this fall. The Gatorade breaks are really cool! You could also purchase the RRM directory, which may well answer some of your questions.
One insight to contribute is that for most races, the race directors/officials are unpaid volunteers who come from a multitude of backgrounds. I've seen race directors without strong business backgrounds who managed races really well and I've seen some who race directors who were commercially shrewd, get themselves fired for doing their jobs poorly. One thing I have noticed, is that race directors who get to meet and work with highly experienced race officials gain a better understanding of how to properly manage races.
07-16-2007, 01:36 PM
I've seen this work the other way too. Some specific examples below, note that I work for a company that produces 4-5 races a year as well as providing support services to another 6-10 races. We also produce a running camp and have a year-long youth running program. Our biggest race has over 7500 participants although most of the events we work on are in the 150-600 range.
--Company that produced our finisher medals shorted us over 100 medals (suspected shortage based on order numbers vs actual finishers). The medals produced did not agree with the approved design. Medals are delivered too close to race day to have the order redone. Note, the next year we spot checked the boxes when they arrived and over 1/3 were short medals, anywhere from 1 short to 3 short. No boxes were over. Total shortage ~75 units.
--Company that produced our tech shirts shipped us 3 boxes of women's large instead of 3 boxes of women's small. Company refused to correct the error in a timely fashion.
--Vendor (also a race sponsor) for our Race Committee polos and wind jackets informs us less than 45 days before the race that they cannot get the quantity of the color we ordered. Color is very important as our title sponsor has a specific trademark color. Response from the vendor is basically, "too bad so sad".
--Jacket producer slaps their logo, a huge 10" x 10" logo, on the back of the jackets they give us. No logo was approved in the artwork. Title sponsor logo is about 4" x 6". How do you think that went over?
--Food vendor who signed "sampling only" contract decides to charge for their product, "because everyone else here is charging".
--Food vendor who signed "Runners Food Tent only" contract informs us a week before the race that they need to sell food to make it worth being there. Their products conflict with existing paid food vendors creating a problem that lasts far beyond the current year.
I could go on and on. I completely agree with you that the system can be a mess, but it happens on both sides.
(By the way, most of my suppliers are great!!! They work hard, provide a great product or service, are flexible in working with us. Most really go above and beyond and I'm very grateful because they make my job easy. For the few bad apples I've had to deal with, may your businesses go south before you infect anyone else)
07-17-2007, 12:40 PM
Excellent point and great examples.
You are correct. It is a two way street so both sides are applicable (race and vendor).
I think for race directors, it can be a daunting task to manage so many moving parts (as you illustrated) between jacket vendors, medals, food, shirts, etc.
Conversely, vendors really need to keep their eye on their competency product or service (often times one thing). It would seem this would be easier.
Thanks for the great comments!
07-18-2007, 05:36 PM
Deligation: Have groups of people on your team who take care of each type of vendor and make sure the group has backup and contingency plans.
Shirts, awards, etc. Having extra ordered ahead of time is just a good idea. If you don't put the date on the shirt then you can use any overage from one year for volinters and road mashals the next year.
Food vendors are difficult, but when they are giving out free products you are lucky to have them.
You seem pissed off that all your plans on paper don't all work on race day. What do you expect? Of course some things will go wrong. Having enough people who know what they are doing, and who can make it work on the race weekend helps a lot.
If you are able to make a business out of something that people do for fun, and which others go along to help for free, more power too you. But getting pissed of that a vendor, who is paying their staff to come to your event, and is giving out free product, be it food, coffee or flashing lights, is unproductive. You obviously have not worked out a good win-win situation.
If a vendor is difficult one year, try another one the next.
You 'pro' race management types may want to team more with local running groups because they have already figured out what local vendors can do things like last minute shirt runs.
I noticed you are pissed of that a vendor who was DONATING jackets had their logo larger than the race sponsors. If you want to control all the art work on the jacket then PAY for them. Otherwise take the donation gracefully.
It seems you are burning the candle at both ends, getting the race sponsor to pay for the jackets and then asking a vendor to donate the jackets. Welcome to race management on the cheep.
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