Recently, I had a young fellow come in who was a local motocross racer and wanted me to sponsor him. He’d been racing for a couple of years and was doing fairly well. His dad was with him and they asked to speak to me. So far, so good.
He told me about his racing. I’d already seen him race, and he did have some talent. They showed me a bunch of photos and told me about the races where he’d done well. Then they came to the crux of the matter — the sponsorship. They were looking for a huge parts discount and free tires for the season. It was then that I asked the question that I ask all racers, “How is supporting you going to help me to sell more units, parts and accessories?”
It was soon apparent that this question had never crossed their minds. They were so caught up in the racing that the quid pro quo had never occurred to them. What are you going to do for me? This was not in their thinking whatsoever. Basically, they had an expensive hobby and wanted me to help pay for it. To them, that was all that mattered.
Now, many of us shop owners came up through the ranks in some sort of competition, whether off road or track. Competition is an amazing amount of fun. It teaches you a lot and I’m sure that we all look back fondly at those days. It was often a struggle to be competitive, but somehow, we made it happen.
So when I first became a shop owner, I had a fairly large team of racers who flew the flag. They were out there every weekend at all the races. I would do everything I could for any of them; prep a bike at the last second or get parts rushed in and sent out to them. It was after the second or third year that I realized that these racers were not at all loyal and would go to whoever gave them the most and best deals. It was very disheartening. I pretty much gave up on sponsorship. It was very sad.
Then, a young guy came in, whom we shall call Brian. Brian wanted to race. He was polite and well spoken. He was wondering if I could help him out, as he was doing well, had a bike, but was finding it tough to keep ahead of the cost.
I asked him the question about how this would help me. He thought about that and said, “Well, I will represent your shop at the track in the best way possible and will make you proud to be my sponsor.” All he wanted, he continued, was a bit of help on parts pricing and maybe to use some of my shop equipment from time to time.
I thought about that and told him I would give him a try. His was a better answer than I’d heard for a long time.
Well, let me tell you, Brian was the best track representation I ever had. He was never a star racer, but he always did well enough, and better yet, he became a track mentor for many of the other racers. Above all of that, it seemed that every second person who came into the shop said, “Brian sent me!”
We took care of them very well; not so much with discounts, but with service and smiles. P&A sales went up and we sold a few more units to the local motocrossers.
If Brian needed something, do you think I treated him like royalty? You bet I did! Whatever I could do for him, I did. Special parts, advice, use of our shop truck from time to time. Awnings, tools, whatever he needed, Brian got. I did more for him than I ever did for any of the others that I have “sponsored” over the years. He brought me business. He was a wonderful representative for the shop. He never embarrassed us or himself. Eventually, Brian went on to a great career, met his wife and had children. He still rides, but his days of racing are behind him. I am, however, keeping a close eye on his son.
Some say his tears are adhesive and that he’s scared of bells. All we know is he keeps his identity hidden for various reasons. Send us an email if you have a topic you’d like him to cover at: [email protected]