Submitted by Eldean Dickenson
If you’re like most working adults, you probably don’t mind your job, but don’t like going to work. Why is that? Well, no matter where you work, most people suffer from unhappiness. Without fulfillment and purpose, it is easy to become frustrated and jaded.
As a financial advisor, I like to ask my clients, “What would you be doing as a business, volunteer, or in your career if money were not an issue?” It’s always interesting to hear the answers, but what I find the most interesting is that the most common response is, “I don’t know.” Most people can’t answer the question because they’ve never thought about it, much less ever been asked. Therefore, I believe the objective is find fulfillment and purpose in your life.
How do you find fulfillment and purpose in your life? Ask yourself a simple question, “What do you like to do?” By turning your hobby into a business or working for a company that is more aligned with your interests, it makes the tough days easier to bear. I can safely assume that if you’re reading this article you probably have a significant interest in basketball. If you watch, talk about, coach, or even play basketball then leverage your passion and turn it into a profitable business. Might I suggest that if you have a significant interest in basketball, instead of being in a support role or a spectator of the game, why not profit from ownership in the game you love. If you truly have a passion for basketball, your passion will translate into a great product on the court. As an owner of a National Basketball of Canada (NBL) franchise that realizes the value of your customers you are almost guaranteed success.
If you could go back in time and acquire an NBA franchise, would you? Remember the days when baseball, football and hockey dominated the sport channels? Since the 80’s and 90’s, the NBA has grown significantly in popularity among the various sport leagues with an NBA franchise having an average price tag in the hundreds of millions. Here in Canada, it would appear that lightning may have struck twice with the inception of the NBL. There are currently 7 teams in the NBL: The Halifax Rainmen, the Quebec Kebs, the Saint John Mill Rats, the Oshawa Power, the Summerside Storm, the Moncton Miracles, and the London Lightning (the 2012 NBL Champs). The NBL is expanding and the cost of a franchise is only $150,000 with an annual team salary cap of $150,000. The same way green energy offers the same growth opportunities to investors today that the technology industry offered those that invested in the 70’s and 80’s, a similar opportunity exists for the owners of an NBL franchise that missed the opportunity to acquire an NBA franchise and are now priced out of the market. In addition, with an overall strategy to expand the NBL in smaller markets, it is actually easier to achieve profitability. In larger markets such as Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver there is a lot more competition for customer’s scarce discretionary dollars. Imagine the loyalty and good will that would created by bringing a sports team to relatively small markets such as Thunder Bay, Ontario; Brandon, Manitoba; or Lethbridge, Alberta.
What do the fundamentals look like? From my vantage point, let’s say a team averages 1,500 fans per game for each of the 18 home games at an average ticket price of $15, they should anticipate gross revenue of about $405,000. Therefore, without any business savvy an NBL team owner should be able to operate in the black. However, what if you realized you weren’t in the sports business, but rather the sports entertainment business?
The former owner of the Smith Falls Bears, Mike McLean of Perth, Ontario realized early on that he wasn’t in the hockey business, but rather the family entertainment business. The marketing techniques he implemented during his three year tenure set him apart and turned a struggling franchise into a profitable business. Here are some low cost techniques that he implemented that made all the difference to his fans:
- He focused on season ticket holders, growing them from 70 to 360.
- He created a fun environment by bringing in a laser light show.
- He offered easily understood promotions, such as 4 drinks, 4 hot dogs, and 4 tickets for $44.
- He brought in the Hanson brothers from the movie Slapshot because they were affordable, they were willing to go to schools, as well as do radio appearances. They were extremely popular and they increased the number of fans from 3,000 to 12,000.
Therefore, as a NBL franchise owner, if you remembered to give your fans an great experience on and off the court, you should reasonably expect to increase revenues over and above ticket sales and concession stand receipts. With the growing popularity of basketball around the world, NBA ticket prices have been steadily increasing. By leveraging the love of the game and the desire to provide fans a true entertainment experience, reminds me of an innovative marketing technique Mike McLean had used to increase attendance at his game. He created flyers that read,
For the price of parking at an Ottawa Senators game, you can bring the whole family to the Smith Falls Bears.
Mike McLean’s strategy worked like a charm. In order to avoid the mistakes of most businesses, treat your fans and your players well and you’ll do well. As for me I’d ensure that all NBL players were covered for group disability insurance (you never know) and visitors medical insurance for our non-Canadian players, but I’m a financial advisor what can I say. Back to the facts at hand, to enjoy a truly happy life, you need to find fulfillment and purpose. The easiest way to do that is by leveraging your hobby into a business. With an annual team salary cap of $150,000 and a maximum salary of $15,000 per player, this may be your time to own an NBL franchise. I know I’d be interested in forming a consortium to own a team here in Niagara.
Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be partners??