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56 West Main St.
Norwich, NY 13815

Quarterly Strike Newsletter Volume 8

Fair Game

State Fair Extremely Profitable Again

Unhappy with paying over $1,500 for vendor space at the "Great" New York State Fair, I decided to do an end around to get in at a rate I'm comfortable with; a straight percentage. I normally rent space at the fairs sports fest tent but this year I arranged a promotion with a regional radio station to make the booth part of their promo. The Syracuse rock station 95X always has their "Rock Box" on location at the fair. This year they had a special promotion where a raffle winner got tickets to Cal Ripkens record breaking game.My pitching booth was an obvious tie in with their promo. I arranged to give 20% of my take to the station but they did one better by giving that money to the Make-A-Wish foundation. I also received free radio promos and did an on air pitching contest.

The state fair is a grueling 12 days so to work a reasonable prize structure I did 4 prize raffles a day. To get in the raffle you just guessed your pitch and what's great is that to see if you won, you had to check back to my booth so if someone didn't win, the odds are they would play again.
On a humorous note, Rick Nielsen, the guitarist from Cheap Trick, was doing an interview and as he exited the "Rock Box" he walked right in front of my cage and almost got beaned with a pitch.

As usual I grossed over $4,000 at the fair so I only paid around $800 for the rent. So, this end around arrangement worked well for me. Please consider teaming with an established presence in your region as the pitching booth is a great promotional vehicle.

Making Money at Soccer Tournaments

What an unexpected Joy soccer has become. Why did it take me 3 years of operating the booth before this market presented itself to me. How could so many soccer tournaments be held right under my nose and how could the National Soccer Hall of Fame be 30 miles from my home without me taking notice of the sports potential tie in with my business. In truth, the integration of soccer came just at the right time for me to be confident in tapping it's full potential. Having just completed a summer full of soccer tournament set-ups, I'm prepared to let you know how
to make soccer your best money maker for the coming year.

Where To Find Tournaments:
Just look out your window, soccer has become the sport of choice for grade school students. Leagues run year round since summer leagues tend to run separate from school sponsored leagues. Like little league, most towns have at least one soccer club and that club aside from their league games may put together a number of travel clubs and an annual tournament. For instance, in Greece, NY, one large park facilitates 5 separate leagues each holding their own annual tournament along with their weekly matches. Greece is a suburb or Rochester which in it's populous must have close to 30 clubs.The easiest way to find tournaments is to contact a local team or league. Aside from hosting their own event, teams in their league will travel to other tournaments and they should have those contacts. Most teams travel in one region and will go to one big out of state event. The Rochester area has at least one tournament a weekend in the summer each hosted by a different club. I could have hired someone to work every weekend within a 20 mile radius. Most states have a Youth Soccer Organization which oversee's the events and they should have an events calendar. Finally, the publication Soccer America lists a large number of tournaments in each state. Order an issue by calling 510-528-5000, ask for calendar edition.

Judging The Tournaments:
Most tournaments are set up by age groupings. The brackets separate boys and girls teams in what I call under groupings. An under 9 group is a team of players 8 years or younger. Teams play about 3 games on Saturday and a couple on Sunday morning. By mid day Sunday, the teams with the best records play a playoff game and a championship game. Festivities end with team trophy presentations by late afternoon. Many big tournaments have under 9(U-9) to under 19(U-19) age groups. Most important is the U-9 thru U-14 boys age group because they are the most enthusiastic. It is important to know the size of the tournament. Holiday weekends tend to be the largest events since they can utilize Fridays or Mondays. A large Memorial weekend event will have around 150 teams. Most events average over 60 teams with 30 being about as low as I would want to go.
One of the most important factors is the number of game sites and the number of fields at each site. Having 40 teams at one site is sometimes better than having 130 teams at 4 sites. Since team down time between games is usually a couple of hours, many teams go directly back to their hotel or to eat rather than hang out at the fields if they have to travel between games. If there are multiple sites, having at least 4 fields at the main site keeps activity brisk and good for business.

Working The Tournaments:
The contact person to call is usually the tournament director. A simple explanation of what you do and the little amount of space you need is usually all that is necessary. I always pitch the price proposal of 20% of the gross to be given to the league. Given the factors of unfamiliarity and weather concerns, the percentage fee is the absolute best way to go. Tournament size should not play a part in price negotiation as my experience shows that the largest tournaments are not always the most profitable. Of the 18 tournaments I've worked over the past year only one wanted a flat fee of $100. I ended up making about $480 which ultimately turned out to be at a 20% rate anyway. However, do yourself a favor and stick with a percentage payment.
Booth location is always important. Most tournaments have a registration & trophy tent, a food tent and a soccer apparel tent. Be sure you are in the same area as these tents. You want to be where the people go between games. Don't be afraid to tell tournament director you are unhappy with your location. Remember, the better you do, the more money they make.
Young boys will be the most enthusiastic players and their enthusiasm will generate business from girls and adults. Once one girl plays, many more will follow. On Saturdays, the best business hours are usually from set-up til' 1:00pm. On Sunday you will get a good rush at opening but the trophy presentations in the afternoon will bring a welcome end of the day rush. That's why it is important to be next to the registration tent. This is especially important when the event is played at multiple sites. The trophy presentation may be the only time a particular team is just hanging around the vending area.
As usual, my prize structure tends to vary. Some events I use the instant prize by guessing their kick speed or I'll incorporate a raffle to be drawn at the events end.
I've made as much as $860 and as little as $170 per tournament. I tend to average between $300 & $500 a tournament. Truth be known, this is the easiest time I've had making money with the booth.
1. The tournaments are plentiful,
2. booking the event is easy.
3. The hours don't run late,
4. The event turnout is guaranteed,
5. I can't lose money on a percentage rate 6. The kids really enjoy the activity.
7. The events are annual.

And for gosh sake, be sure to have plenty of Kick-A-Thon fundraising proposals available.

Highlights Of A Soccer Summer

Memorial Weekend
Greece, NY - 170 teams
Booth Take - over $300

I battled wind and a rain out day to make an acceptable amount of money. Location may have been my biggest problem as I was set away from the food tent and behind the registration tent. Multiple locations kept players from spending down time at fields. Trophy presentations brought a mob and a traffic pattern which went in front of booth creating congestion for potential customers. I learned a lot about logistical set up requirements and blocking off my kicking area from foot traffic.

June 23 & 24
Oneonta NY - 40 teams
Booth Take - over $500

The Soccer Hall of fame tournaments usually focus on one age group a weekend. This weekend being an under 13 event was my prime business age group. There are 4 fields that surround the vending area which has a very large open space so teams hang out and practice there between games. Both days were about equal in booth take and there were a large number of girls that played. Repeat business was key to this weekend.

July 8 & 9
Greece, NY - 120 teams
Booth Take - over $450

This was held at the same location as the Memorial Weekend event. However, the vending area was put at the opposite end of the park and the vendors were well placed. Saturday was slow I believe because of the multiple site arrangement. Sunday, though, was a great day. There was good consistency in the morning. Trophy presentations went from about 1:30 to 5:00 and business was very brisk. I also had a good turnout of teens and adults.

July 15 & 16
Gates NY - 100 teams
Booth Take - over $300

This tournament had 3 sites with 4 fields at the main site. Unfortunately only one field was directly next to the vending area. Temperatures were above 90 both days so between games most teams went back to their homes or hotel. Most vendors commented that it was very slow compared to past years. A nice run of business late Sunday helped. It was a good weekend to be giving out Snapple as prizes.

July 22 & 23
Liverpool, NY - 140 teams
Booth Take - over $500

Sunday afternoon was an absolute Mob Scene. I had someone work this event for me and when I showed up to take the booth down at 6:30, I made an extra $30 after the worker went home. The fields were very close to the vendors and it was a very tight arrangement all together. Being pressed for space can be advantageous if you can keep people from walking in front of the kicking area. Onlookers tend to be be more involved in a tight situation and are more inclined to try it themselves.

August 19 & 20
Oneonta, NY - 36 teams
Booth Take - over $450

Once again, the Hall of Fame had the youngsters going at it and business was great. In July when they had the teen tournaments with about 20 teams, I was only doing Between $200 & $300. Sure there were less teams but the atmosphere still was milder. The Hall of Fame has some really nice soccer balls so for prizes. I simply raffled off a ball on Sunday from the pool of players who guessed their kick speeds. It went well.

September 26 - 28
Rochester NY - Kick-A-Thon
Total Money Raised - $1,700+
My Take - 25%

Through a contact I made at some tournaments, I held one of my fundraisers for a highschool Junior High & JV team. The players went out the week before and got pledges based on how fast they can kick. I timed one team each day at practice for the contest. The girls team really out hustled the boys. Boys may be the main catalyst at tournaments but as far as raising money goes, The girls have the most dedication to do the work needed.

Sept. 30 & Oct. 1
Vestal NY - 60 teams
Booth Take - over $400

This tournament also focused on only the younger age groups and was held at one site. It just goes to show that a small collection of Grade schoolers at one locations can easily out produce a tournament with 150 teams. This tournament had the most even distribution of business throughout the entire event and the trophy presentations business was light. I had some really nice sports team license plates as prizes that went over well. I will probably continue to use them the rest of the year.

Do Not Enter!

People walking in front of the cage is a big problemat many events. Safety is your first concern but it also creates disruptions for potential customers and loss of business. People would just rather take a short cut through your pitching area than walk around you.
If you have a top speed board display(which I recommend), placing a rope from the display to the cage will redirect the lazy persons traffic pattern. Better yet, have another banner made that will serve the purpose and advertise your booth or it's prizes. Notice on the front cover photo that there is a 95X banner doing what I'm describing.
I swear that some people can walk right in front of the cage and never know it was there. I should make a big banner that say's, Eat Fastballs Here! Seriously though, little kids can run under a roped section but a banner will cover more height and hopefully add a more enhanced visual element.

Greet Idea

I've been meaning to do this for a few years now and it really is too important to let pass again. So this year I'm sending Christmas Cards to to the many people who helped me this year. Product distributors, promoters, event directors and sales customers are getting a card. Instead of you having to call an event promoter, a Christmas card may go a long way in them remembering you for the coming year. It's simply a class move.

News & Notes

The Mody Company is now offering 4 different systems ranging in price from $1,445 to $3,445. Radar gun range and features are the main price factors along with the optional new cage designs as mentioned in the previous issue.

A special thanks goes out to Pete Moore and his staff at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta NY for allowing The Mody company to place a kick timing system at their summer long tournaments. It really enabled me to see the true growing vision of soccer becoming a large part of my business.

That same special thanks goes out to radio station 95X and the Syracuse Crunch hockey organization. Proceeds generated at my booth at 95X's state fair site and the Crunch celebrity softball game went to the Make-A-Wish foundation. Participants at my booth noticeably responded to the gesture and made their pitches really worth while. It was a classy move by 95X and the Crunch to help involve me with this fan favorite charity.

(editors note: Please check for price updates of Mody Company systems since this issue)