Welcome to the Merchants of Dirt Podcast Episode #7, hosted by Reckoneer.com 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 have a few tips about how making your race name memorable, I’m going to debunk the myths race promoters have about race profits, and we are going to introduce a new segment where we tell you about new sports management technology and tools race promoters can use to for building better races.
In This Episode
Tips for naming a race
Coffee’s for Closers
Myths about racing profits
Get your FREE 90-Day Roadmap and companion eBook
Beyond Shovels – Trello.com
And Now You Know
Call to Action
Tips for naming a race
This week is Thanksgiving in the United States. This is where we gather our families together — some we haven’t seen in a long time — at a big meal usually featuring Turkey as the main course, and catch up with everyone. It comes from when the first settlers from Europe to America shared food with the locals in a great feast. That’s where it get’s its name: Thanksgiving. We “Give Thanks” for a good harvest or a good year. There is no other holiday like it. What it’s all about is right in the name. Thanks… giving… It reminds me that a name is a very important thing. Especially when you are naming something like a race for the first time.
You want a race name to be memorable. Because when it’s something that people can remember without even thinking about it. It gives you a huge advantage over a race name that is forgettable. However, this little bit of creativity — the naming your race part — that can trip you up. Why do you ask? Because your event needs a name. Not some bland Scattergories moniker like:
[State, City, or Park Name] + RACE TYPE + [Adjective/Noun]
Virginia MTB Challenge or Lake Fairfax Park Classic are good examples of blah. Yes, the “Enter Park Name Here” event names are functional, but you have to admit, they’re kind of boring. If you want skilled AND curious mountain bike riders to show up, you’re going to need to capture their attention with something with a little more flash. Worse yet, these kinds of functional names do not have a creative well to pull from. There is no imagery in these types of names to base any unique branding off of, save for the classic line drawing of the state, any kind of knobby wheel circle, or the ever so popular GO-TO logo: the bike chain link (yuck).
One of the first mountain biking races I promoted was called the “Tomahawk Tumble”. I would like to say I played off the Native-American heritage of the venue and its rich history to create this name. But the truth is that my son came up with it. When I was struggling to come up with a name, my son asked me what I was working on.
When I told him he blurted out, “Ah! That’s where we and that tomahawk both tumbled down the hill!” And just like that, the name “Tomahawk Tumble” was birthed into existence. That race had maybe 40 riders show up on race day. That may not have been a large turnout for some, but for my first race, having 40 riders show up was a success! From those 40 riders, I had several tell me they had a great day, posted photos on Facebook, and bragged to their friends about missing this race. Then something really strange happened. Riders started asking me at other events when the Tomahawk Tumble was coming back. Now that’s the power of a good name.
Another race name that worked out well was an event I called the Wolf Bouncer All Mountain. It was a collegiate mountain biking race that included five events over two days of racing. When you think of a name like “Wolf Bouncer”, the first thoughts that come to mind are a giant wolf that kicks people out of bars. But in this case, it was not a wolf, but a deer, that became the center of our event. Like most good names, the name Wolf Bouncer came from a bad encounter I had with a 6-point buck one year while out riding. It decided that I “shall not pass” as I rode up to him. Surprisingly, I found out from my fellow riders that I was not the only rider to get “bounced” from that park. And when I joked, “and that’s why there are no wolves here anymore,” the name was born: Wolf Bouncer! Now the Wolf Bouncer is in its third year (as of 2016) with riders asking if they can get the race logo on a t-shirt this year. Again, it is the power of a good name that makes your riders — aka customers — come back to you wanting more.
You may find that a good race name that draws people in might not come to you right away. Sometimes you need to just give it a “BLAND RACE X” name so that you can get on with your planning. However, If you keep your ears open, you will find that once you get into event planning, the cool names come to you organically — out of the blue. Often it’s in ways you didn’t expect, so always be on the lookout for a good story, a weird experience, or something that just sounds good to say out loud.
Chances are it will be a lot easier to remember than 90% of the other events out there. Just like we give thanks for what the year has brought us, give thanks to what a good name can give you, and make it memorable!
Coffee’s for Closers
Do you want to know what else is memorable? A good cup of coffee! I’m not much of a straight up black coffee drinker. Which totally breaks the stereotype of your typical Sailor. But there is a reason. In the Navy, the coffee available was… well… let’s just say it was strained with a Chief’s sock. And if you’re not familiar with the US Navy, a Chief — or Chief Petty Officer — is the backbone of the enlisted ranks. But not well know for clean socks.
Yeah! Think that one through.
Unlike what you’ve been told, Navy coffee is often not the greatest beverage to drink. And it very well CAN eat the chrome off a trail hitch. So to combat the strength, or taste, or poor quality of the coffee. I would load it up with sugar, cream, and even cocoa. Some might say that I weakened it — but I didn’t care — I made it drinkable for ME!
Now my Best Girl — my better half — can drink just about any coffee straight. I wish I could do that. I wish I could enjoy my coffee that way. But I like all that stuff in my coffee. Sorry! Just the way it is. Now this doesn’t take away from the coffee flavor. Even with my poor man’s mocha — that’s a spoonful of sugar and some cocoa in my coffee. With a bit of milk on top to cool it just a bit. I can tell what’s going on with the coffee, But I can tell what is good coffee… and what is great coffee.
So in this new segment I call “Coffee’s for Closers”, I would like to talk about fellow Veteran-owned Ricks Roasters Coffee Company in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Ricks Roasters helped sponsor the Wolf Bouncer All-Mountain mountain bike race in September 2016. Their donation went to support the George Mason Cycling Club and Reckoneer.com in putting on the 2-Day event. Plus, it is the only coffee I drink right now. They have dozens of blends to choose from, but my favorite blend is their Four Horsemen coffee.
Why the Four Horsemen? Because of it’s Apocalyptic Taste, of course! This is really good coffee! Sean and Keely Ricks have really created something special with this company, so please support Ricks Roasters Coffee Company by visiting their website. You’ll find everything about their blends, where to find their coffee, and even how to order it online!
Myths about racing profits
Do you want to see something funny? Want to see a race promoter look really uncomfortable? Ask them about profit. Better yet, ask them if they are making a profit, or if they think that generating a profit is a measure of their success. Heck, ask them if their last race made any money. It’s funny that any talk about money will cause the average race promoter to break into a fit of “um’s” and “ah’s” that would make a public speaker with a broken teleprompter proud. Why do race promoters have such a hard time with the topic of money? The short answer? Someone once told them that making a profit was evil. “They shouldn’t be able to make money promoting races. They charge too much as it is!” “They should build races for the love of the sport, not to make a profit off the backs of poor racers.”
And there is it. Greedy promoters. Poor racers. The age old argument that racers have no money and promoters charge too much. Race promoters are not allowed to be happy about making money on a race. They think if someone sees them happy, a flash mob will form and burn them at the stake, just behind their hand-built, five-place podium.
The terror is real. Promoters actually feel that any talk of money is akin to bragging. They are actually afraid to think about making a profit, and terrified to let racers know they have.
So let’s end these myths right now!
Myth #1 – Profit is not my only barometer to success
Ok. It may not be the only one, but it is the only measurable one that matters. Racers pay you for a product (e.g. your race). If that product sucked, they would ask for that money back.
If they had a bad experience, they would not pay for your product again. If you think about it, having racers show up to race, or show up again and again to race, is their way of telling you that your race was a success. Otherwise, they wouldn’t come if your race sucked. Period. It might feel weird to you to think of the extra money you made (e.g. your profit) as a sure sign of success, but it is.
Myth #2 – I am betraying my beliefs if I focus only on making money
Hold on one minute. Your business has goals, and you need to stay true to those goals. And if making a profit was the only thing you focused on, you might think you were not staying true to your beliefs. But you also need to admit that you have to make some money to stay in business. You need to feed your family (or yourself), you need to keep that business you believe so strongly in open, and you can’t do any of that if you’re running a charity. Not unless you have a second job. Because the grocery store does not take used bib numbers as currency.
You don’t have to fixate on it like the One Ring of Power (my precious!), but you do need to make it one of your strategic goals. You NEED to make making a profit a strategic goal. Understand that if you’re always making a difference, but not making any money doing it, you’re not running a business, you’re enjoying a hobby.
Myth #3 – Racers are poor, defenseless customers, that are being taken by greedy promoters that charge way too much
This is a common topic on many of the racing blogs and forums. Big, bad race promoters are always trying to stick to the little guy with their endless, greedy thirst for ever higher registration fees. They say the greed is so bad that it’s literally “hurting the racing community”. Really? For some odd reason, there are racers out there that get a paycheck for doing their job but do not deem the race promoter worthy enough to deserve theirs too. And if they — God forbid — make money on a race, they are the living embodiment of evil itself! Enough! It is time to take a stand! Now is not the time to wimp out. Chin out. Back straight. Say it with me: “Racers are not poor!” Ahh… didn’t that feel great? Be proud of what you built and that it makes money. Let the one’s that complain, complain. There is nothing you can do about them anyway.
Get your FREE 90-Day Roadmap and companion eBook
Speaking of staying in business, or even just starting a racing business, would you like to get a Head Start building better races?
What if you didn’t have to figure out all out all the steps it takes to build just the race part of the business?
What if you could follow a simple map — a roadmap — that showed you what each of the steps… and in what order to take them?
Wouldn’t that free you up for other things?
Couldn’t you then go work on the things you really like to do: like course design?
Or getting out there and selling your race to actual racers?
I’m almost finished writing a short eBook that will help you identify the steps, structure, and timelines you need to create your own off-road racing roadmap. But with it comes a premade, easy-to-follow roadmap that you can use right-out-of-the-box. This eBook — together with the roadmap — will show you the exact path you need to use to build a race in 90 days. 90 days?
Yes, 90 days! This is the minimum amount of time you need to get a small race off the ground. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but if you follow this roadmap, you too can build a race in just twelve short weeks. And it is entirely FREE, just for you and your fellow serious race promoters. Build a race in 90 days with my starter roadmap, and when you’re done, you can use it to build races again, and again, and again.
Are you already ready start building better races? If you are, go to Reckoneer.com SLASH roadmap and sign up with your email address.
What does that give you? If you sign up this month (Novermber 2016), I will send you my 90-Day Roadmap PDF absolutely free. AND If you request the 90-Day Roadmap this month — the month of November — I will include the 90-Day Roadmap supplemental eBook to you for free too. I still have a few weeks of work to do on this — but by signing up, you get it when it is released — for FREE. That’s a $39 value — just for providing me with your email address.
This offer ends on December 1st, 2016, so go to Reckoneer.com SLASH roadmap — and sign up today to get your Free roadmap and eBook.
Beyond Shovels – Trello.com
Now for my new segment on Merchants of Dirt Podcast that I’m calling Beyond Shovels. This is the segment where we tell you about all the new sports management technology and tools race promoters should use to build better races. Why is this important? When race promoters weren’t looking, mobile technology, online services, and cloud computing ruined the old understanding of productivity tools. Today, the power of interactive management, collaboration, and online services that can be leveraged via the Internet– for free — takes spreadsheets to a whole new level. Gone are the days of punching numbers into fields and doing everything from a sheet of paper. Now you can manage your race planning in real time, collaborate with your entire team no matter where they are, store all your documents in the cloud for easy access from anywhere, and rent software applications without having to buy or build them yourself.
All of these tools designed to make you more productive, and build better races. What are some of these tools? In this first Beyond Shovels segment, we’re going to talk about tools for managing productivity. Because managing your race’s workflow is a tough job. You could use a spreadsheet to keep everything under control, but then you’ll have to modify that spreadsheet multiple times. How do you often end up doing that? Most likely you Print it out and use a pencil to check off items and write in changes? That sounds tedious and inefficient. It also sounds like your spreadsheet doesn’t do workflows very well. Every time you change something, you have to go back and change your spreadsheet.
How about your team? When someone on your team completes a task, how do you or the rest of the team know? Email? Phone calls? Meetings? Maybe they don’t complete it and you don’t find out until it’s too late. How can you ever keep track of it all?
Stop the insanity! Start managing your races with a productivity tool called Trello. Trello is an online application that helps you do workflows in real time. Using the kanban methodology found in software development, Trello automates the movement of your lists by organizing them into workflow boards divided into several columns. Each column is a step in your workflow process with all your To-Do items in the first column. Then when you start working on one of your To-Do items, you drag-and-drop that item into an “In Progress” column. When that To-Do task is completed, you then put it into a “done” column. The name of each column is completely up to you. However, the Trello tool is a powerful way to organize and prioritize your race into a snapshot of what is complete, what is still being worked on, and what still needs to be done.
When you connect your race’s Trello board to your team, you can then start to manage who is working what task, and have a real-time view of what is and is not done. Trello’s “information at a glance” capability can even include files, images, and connections to other productive tools like Slack and cloud storage. Plus you can use it on your mobile devices, which allows you to know how your race is progressing without having to be on your laptop.
Trello is also priced well for small teams by being free. Free for how long? Forever. Forever? Yes! Trello is a productive tool that wants to grow with your team. The advanced features you would need for bigger teams and races are around $10.00 per user per month (roughly $120 per user a year). When you get bigger, you can look into using Trello to manage your championship races. But you’re not there yet. As a small team, Trello is a perfect tool at a perfect price.
Stop managing your races by spreadsheet. Go check out this online application at Trello.com.
And now you know
Coming up in next weeks Merchants of Dirt Podcast:
You can’t grow your off-road racing business if you are not guided by principles. Principles? Yes. Those fundamental truths that serve as the foundation for your system of reasoning. On the next Merchants of Dirt podcast, I’ll be talking about Principles, why Principals matter to your off-road racing business, and what business lessons you can learn from having a few simple principles in place to guide each of your business decisions.
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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Now go build better races!