Build Better Permits With A Proposal Process – MOD017

Obtain the legal permission to use the venue by developing a process for getting your permits approved each and every time.

Show Notes

Welcome to the Merchants of Dirt Podcast Episode #17, hosted by founder Kyle M. Bondo. This is your insider’s guide to practical recreational engineering where I teach you the art and science of building, promoting, and directing off-road races. In this episode, I teach you how to obtain the legal permission to use the venue by developing a process for getting your permits approved each and every time.

In This Episode
  • 0:01

    What’s in a Permit Proposal?

  • 0:01

    Permit Process Strategies

  • 0:01

    And Now You Know

  • 0:01

    Coming Up Next

  • 0:01

    Call to Action

What’s in a Permit Proposal?

Your proposal should have all the relevant details outlined in an organized way. Race overview, course design, categories, schedule, venue layout, prices, rules — every detail that you would have included for those racers who pre-register, or what you will have on your website. Only in the proposal, you have it in a presentation form that breaks each detail down into an easy-to-understand form. The secret to a good proposal is to remove the fluff and keep it simple. So what specifically is in a proposal?

Part 1 – Cover Page Snapshot

  • What is this event called?
  • What kind of event is this?
  • Who’s in charge of it?
  • What date is it going to be on?
  • What date will you have if it rains?

Part 2 – Schedule At-a-Glance

  • What venue are you asking for?
  • What events are you going to have that day?
  • What time are those events?
  • Is it only 1 day, or 2 days, or more?

Part 3 – Details

  • What is this event all about?
  • What is the breakdown of what will happen at each time in the schedule?
  • Who starts when?
  • When is that part over?
  • Who starts next?
  • When is the awards ceremony?
  • When is the entire thing over?

Part 4 – Maps and Locations

  • What part of the park are you using?
  • Where will you have parking?
  • Where will you have registration?
  • Where will you be during the race?
  • How will participants use the bathroom?
  • Are you using any roads?
  • Are you creating new trails?

Part 5 – Categories and Classes

  • What kind of diversity will you have?
  • What requirements do these groups have?
  • How many racers are you expecting in each category?

Part 6 – Prices

  • How much does it cost to participate?
  • Is there special pricing?
  • Is there price increases?
  • What else can you buy at this event?

Part 7 – Emergency Response

  • Will you have medical staff on site?
  • How will injuries be escalated?
  • What are the nearest emergency care centers?
  • Are you being sanctioned?
  • What insurance will you have?
  • Who is underwriting your insurance?

Part 8 – Contact

  • Who is ultimately in charge?
  • What it their contact information?
  • Who else is in charge?
  • Where can I find this information online?
  • Who are the sponsors?

That’s it. That’s what is in a proposal.

Permit Process Strategies

So how do I make the permit process work in my favor? Here are some quick strategies for making the permit process work in your favor:

1. Make an appointment and put your face to your name

Don’t wait around for the invite to meet with park managers. Make an appointment with the property manager (or the special events coordinator) and walk your permit in before applying. Why is this effective? Property managers are people. They are funny, rough, mean, kind, flawed, and smart — just like you. And like most people, making a connection is important. By making an appointment to discuss your pending permit, you can often alleviate any concerns the property manager has of you and your event. The point of the meeting is not to sell your event — not overtly — but to talk with the property manager about how you want to host an event on their property, and want to know some of the issues they might have concerning “those” types of events. What is an issue for them, may not actually be a “race stopper” for you. But you won’t know this if you don’t actually talk to them in person.

2. Trail Maintenance is a nice carrot

Property managers have limited funding and are always short staffed. They will get to that down tree someone pointed out, but it might take a week before they can get to it due to the hundred other things they need to fix, maintain or replace. If you want to make a reputation that property managers will notice, start doing or showing up to trail days. Property managers love to have folks come out and clean up trails. Improved trails bring out people. People using the trails improves the demand on the park. The more demand on the park is directly related to how that park gets funding. Better trails equal better funding. Better trials can also cause the property manager to know you are serious about keeping his or her property in good shape. The principles of being a “good steward of the land” and “leaving no trace” will give you and your race promotion company yet another reputation boost.

About 50-hours worth of work is a good number to shoot for. That is roughly five (5) people, working two (2) hours a day, for about five (5) days. Here’s where the clever part comes in. There are a ton of clubs and trail advocacy groups out there. Leverage the power of like-minded organizations in your area. This is a win-win partnership that could also lead to some of them sharing your race info with their friends, or even coming out to race your event themselves. Connections with your community advocacy groups can be a great way to promote your race AND get the property manager to take you seriously.

3. Always apply early

Getting your permit approved is usually handled via an administrative process and that process has rules. One of those rules is how early you need to apply for your permit before it will be rejected outright by the process. Property managers have to give fair and equal access to public lands. They do this through a first-come, first served process that is weighted by the “needs of the park”. The property manager usually has the last say on who get’s what date on the calendar, but that is only if those involved followed the process correctly. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot right out of the gate by procrastinating your permit submission. So apply for your permits early, and give yourself a huge advantage over other promoters. It will give you more time to plan AND sell your events.

And Now You Know

Get the permit now, worry about the rest later. Your permit is the single most important document in your race. You cannot afford to spend any money on your race until you have it, or know you’re going to get it. So stack the deck in your favor by meeting with the property manager, providing way more detail than they would ever ask for, partnering with the park by being a good steward of the land, and doing it all early. The permit is essential, but it not difficult to get if you work the system correctly. So keep in mind that the more property managers you work with, the easier it will become to obtain future permits on the dates you need.

And now you know.

Coming Up Next

Venues are important. Some might say that your venue is the most important aspect of your race. But once you have it selected you then need to make sure the course works, your customer flow makes sense, and everyone knows where to go. On the next episode of the Merchants of Dirt Podcast I’m going to talk about the importance of venues and the 7 venue areas all your race need to have right.

Call to Action

Thank you so much for listening to Merchants of Dirt Podcast. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to me @MerchantsofDirt on Twitter.

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