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56 West Main St.
Norwich, NY 13815

Quarterly Strike Newsletter Volume 4

UPDATE: First Pitch-A-Thon Held

In volume #2 of this newsletter, I introduced a very exciting fundraising program called Pitch-A-Thon. If you recall, it involves participants to solicit sponsors to pledge them on how fast they can pitch at the event. If a participant is pledged 10 cents and throws 40 MPH then he would collect $4.00 from his sponsor.

This June a Little League in Mattydale, N.Y. agreed to a voluntary participation from it's players. My pitching booth was set up at a local carnival and those choosing to participate would bring their completed pledge sheets to the booth and attempt 5 throws in the contest. Each age group would have prizes based on speed, consistency and most money raised.
About 20 kids showed to try it which was less than expected but they did produce as pledges averaged about $50 a kid which totals to about $1,000 raised. It definitely was a promising start to a program that I predict will grow in popularity over the next few years. My pay for the event was 25% of funds raised. Many leagues have shown an interest in this new program including a Kick-A-Thon for soccer. The purpose for updating you on the event is so you can consider the following improvements I suggested for the league which wants to do it again. A) Getting information out early and continually sending notices home will keep kids and parents reminded. Countless kids forgot dates or lost their forms so keep on the kids. They all want to do it. B) Setting up at the field instead of a carnival will increase turn out. Also setting up for 2 or 3 evenings will motivate many of the last minute types and assure that the forgetful ones have another night to turn in their forms. C) Try to make raising money the top priority by giving those who collect $100 or more something of value. Possibly a business sponsor like a sporting goods store can donate or reduce merchandise for the cause.

I know many of you first time readers would like to know the full details of the program so please write or call me and I'll be sure to get info out to you ASAP.

Mind Your Own Business

Your speed pitching booth, a telephone, a vehicle and maybe a business card; yup, now you're in business. It really is all you need, but ... is it all you expect from yourself. Sure for the first couple months until you start getting a feel for your business.

However, eventually creating a stronger professional image will give you the confidence to be a stronger endorser of your business. Now I try very hard to help you keep your start up expenses under $5,000. I also expect you to profit every time out so if you can swing it, consider some additions to your image within 3 to 6 months. Most items you may already own.

An voice mail is almost a must.
It has been my experience that I can never reach a show promoter on a first try so the odds are that he will return your call. You need to weigh the thought of getting a separate phone line and if you use your existing number will your answering machine recording need to be business oriented. Though your recording should be brief, be sure to request information from your caller like a day & evening phone number and when is the best time to reach them. This will avoid everyone playing "phone tag".

Where is the best place to put all that money you're making. A business checking account is strong statement to anyone that you're serious about your business. It also helps you separate your finances for tax time. Expect a slightly higher service charge but more options.

Computers are the undisputed king of home business. In my case not so much for the number crunching but the creative promotional power at my fingertips. Of course, the computer is an investment and to that end be sure to get a laser printer. Do not skimp on printers. Business cards, letterhead, envelopes, logos, flyers, posters, ad layouts and pretty much eternal life can all be conceived with the most basic programs.

This creative power is important because it virtually frees you from the cost and delays of having promo materials made and it simply gets you more "into" your business. For those of you with no real computer experience, realize that working with just one program with graphics is all you need. It really is easier than you think.

Finally, lets step back and look at the real picture. Be sure that the image of you sending faxes and working on computers does not distort the fact that your just a small fry in a big pan. The items you purchase need to be cost effective either in price or the value of usage. In future issues I will discuss thoughts of expansion beyond the single booth operations which can in time make you a big fry in an even bigger pan.

Earn More And Work Less:
$2.00 is better than $1.00 and Your Worth It!

You don't have to believe me at first. You don't have to be comfortable doing it. However, raising the pitching price from $1.00 to $2.00 may create the most dramatic increase in your profits. The curiosity to play the game is so great that It would be rare to lose 50% of your business due to the increase. As much as we enjoy having lots of people pitch, the bottom line is your earnings and noting the gray chart below, even a significant drop in patrons will increase your earnings at the $2.00 rate. Think about it, half the work for more money.

In fact, it has been my experience at many events that the decrease in customers is closer to 25% so the 400 patrons would reduce to 300 and the profits would increase from $400 to $600. That's a$200 increase for 25% less work. I'll admit to a bit of trepidation at my first increase but as I thought back, the price for this game has probably been the same for 20 years at carnivals with only 2 or 3 pitches.

400 Customers x $1.00 = $400
210 customers x $2.00 = $420

Results: a 45% reduction in customers at $2.00 still earns you more... and less work
To increase your prices you do need to be generous with your structure. I give customers 5 pitches instead of 3, I let them split pitches with friends and I put more into prizes. (although prizes seem to have no significant barring on participation numbers) The bottom line though is that at many events I simply couldn't comfortably profit only charging a dollar. Another point to realize is that price isn'tthe most significant participation factor. People enjoying themselves at your booth is hands down what sells others to give it a try. Be it 1 or 2 dollars, do what you must to get people having fun.

Creative Pricing & Identifying The Right Rates To Charge

The $2.00 Rate

$2.00 for 5 pitches is the rate I use 95% of then time. It is good to implement this rate immediately to set and establish this as the norm. I predict about a 20% to 40% drop in customers but you would need a 51% drop to lose money against the dollar rate. I feel it is mandatory to use this rate when paying a flat fee to rent space at events. I base this belief on the feeling that I will not lose 51% of potential patrons charging $2.00 over $1.00. Realize that this is not designed to decrease customers but to greatly increase profits. Also realize that patrons do appreciate 5 pitches and the
increase in pitches is a huge selling point. A great example of this rate is the New York State Fair. My booth is one of 3 at the fair. I'm the only 5 throws for $2.00 booth and I've grossed over $4,000 each time.

The $1.00 Rate

Most people are simply more comfortable charging a dollar for 2 or 3 pitches. You want people to have fun and try it out. Heck, it's only a dollar. Above I mentioned that the dollar rate has been the same for 20 years at fairs. Do you think rental space has stayed the same? Are the
attendance numbers up? NO! However, rare situations dictate a possible dollar rate like kiddie carnivals where the attendance is elementary school children and the games are 50 cents or a dollar, Small fairs where you're competing with midway games or at events where you're paying a percentage instead of a flat fee. The pros of charging a dollar is that the increased activity can more easily feed off itself and patrons are more likely to play multiple times. Do not give more than 3 pitches or you will reduce multiple plays.


This concept came from one show where I just could not get the activity to feed off itself. My concept is to charge $4.00 for unlimited turns. I mark the hand of the customer and they are free to return any time that day and pitch; usually 5 pitches at a time. At some events half my customers pay this rate, usually groups of unsupervised kids. This requires patience and firm control. Some kids will hang there ALL DAY and throw ALL DAY. You must keep them orderly and require brakes. The great affect of this is that it makes the booth appear as the place to be. Nothing loosens parents wallets like seeing other kids doing it. In fact, many parents appreciate that they have a place to leave the kids for a short time. I always joke that it's my baby sitting rate. Sometimes it's no joke. The money this rate creates is certainly no laughing matter. Try it!

Family Rate

At $2.00 a pop some parents have too many kids to afford it and I hate seeing them choose between kids. It's always the little guy or gal that gets left out. I have a family rate that lets a family of 3 or more pay $5.00 for 5 pitches each. I require a parent to be present but hey, they can play too. Usually I make them play.


If you have an option to accept tickets then do it. Some times a carnival will ask me to set up along with their games & rides. They also give me the option to collect cash or their tickets. Tickets will heavily out produce cash every time and I simply redeem them to the promoter for cash at the days end.

YES, We Accept Checks

Getting Paid By The Day

Lately, more and more inquiries are asking what I charge to set up. Yes, they want to know how much it would cost them to have me at their events. If you think about it, what is it worth? Is it better to pay them and charge pitches? Can they afford what you normally profit in a day? What are your expenses like travel, meals & lodging. Do they hope to make their money back or is it strictly for promotion?

To first answer the latter, the few experiences I've had have been for mostly promotion and to add to the promoters attractions. Recently I was paid $200 to set up for a day in the parking lot of a business with other games and entertainment. The event was to promote the business by having a carnival in the parking lot to bring in new customers. The business pays the promoter who then contracts out for the events. The promoter then charges tickets for the games to recoup his expenses. He may or may not generate $200 in tickets at my booth but he hopes the variety of games leads to an overall profit in ticket sales. His event is stronger with me than without me.

Another event was a prom party sponsored by the YMCA. They paid me $200 to show up from 1:00AM to 4:00AM. The kids pitched for free and the different activities at the YMCA were to keep kids occupied on prom night instead of drinking. They paid me out of party money from their fund so profit was not the motive.

In both situations I set my price by asking questions like what was the anticipated attendance, what were the hours, what age group is expected. If they anticipated 10,000 people I would be crazy to accept a flat fee when I have the potential of thousands of customers. However, a parking lot carnival and 3 hours at a YMCA has limited potential. So, by knowing what the booth profits on an average day, I felt in each case that $200 a day is fair. For those balking at $200 for 3 hours worked at the prom party, realize that the YMCA party was after hours so it canceled out a scheduled Sunday mall event. Other price considerations were that each event required about a tank of gas, no lodging and free meals. A final thought on the parking lot carnival is that it was outside so even if it rains I would be paid.

Any event I do I aspire to make more than $200 but it is a significant daily pay. The promoter who does the parking lot carnival is hoping to do 10 to 15 events a year so that could be a nice contract. Since I own 2 booths I could reduce my rate to $150 and let them rent a booth without my attendance. They can have their staff run it. Or, I could hire some one to do the events and split the check with them. Seek out all organization and promotion related businesses to let them know you exist. Realize that the most unlikely may be the best.

Play It SAFE!

No, a hard hat and goggles are not needed to play at the speed pitching booth. However, the safety of onlookers and property is to be taken SERIOUSLY.

There is no truth that standing farther back will increase the pitching speed. The law of gravity slows the ball immediately after release and the speed gun only needs a few feet to read the pitch so KEEP PITCHERS WITHIN 10 FEET FROM THE FRONT OF CAGE. Children under 7 and many girls tend to release the ball too early resulting in the ball going up instead of forward.. Making them stand at the front of the cage assures that they will not "bloop" the ball over the top.

7 ' with normal release 7 ' with late release 2 ' with late release

In the above scenario the late release, especially among children under 7, is of minimal concern since the "blooped" ball has no speed or power. You simply do not want any ball to leave the cage under any circumstances. Of greater concern is the pitch thrown fast and low at the point where the surround cage netting touches the ground. Be sure on all 3 sides of the cage that the netting does touch the floor. Those with a late release will many times throw low with the ball hitting the floor where it meets the netting. Any gaps between the netting and floor can result in the ball skipping under the net.

Onlooking children who have escaped the attention of their parents will run or crawl into the cage. Even more irritating is the parent who lets their child run and does nothing about it thinking it is cute how they want to throw the ball. You obviously do not want this to happen while someone is pitching so before each pitch check for the potential of anyone who may stray in front of, into or behind the cage. Even when there is no activity do not let little children in the cage to pick up balls... They will throw them in any direction including out the cage. Give the parent a quick moment to corral their child but do not be afraid to gently remove the ball from the child's hand and escort them out if the parent wont. You also do not want them tripping over balls or the netting.

I will have more simple safety tips in following issues but for now, remember that being attentive is the most effective safety procedure and it's free.