May 30, 2024

Lexington Sport & Social - Sold Out Podcast #6

Discover how Morgan Light transformed Lexington Sport and Social Club into a thriving community of 2,500 players across 12 sports through sponsorship acquisition, hands-on staff management, and community building.

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Welcome to Episode #6 of the Sold Out podcast where we interview league organizers across the country for tips and tricks on how to sell out leagues.

In this episode, Morgan Light from Lexington Sport and Social Club shares his experiences and strategies for managing and growing a successful sports league with 2,500 players across 12 sports. The discussion delves into effective sponsorship strategies, the importance of building strong relationships with staff and community members, and how to leverage feedback for continuous improvement. Whether you are new to the field or looking to refine your approach, Morgan's journey offers practical advice and inspiration.

Key Takeaways

  • Community Relationships: Building strong, personal relationships with local organizations is crucial for securing and managing sports venues and sponsorships effectively.
  • Participant Feedback: Gathering and acting on participant feedback through surveys and direct interactions is essential for continuous improvement.
  • Hands-On Management: Actively participating in leagues provides valuable insights into the player experience and helps identify areas for innovation.
  • Balancing Competition and Fun: Creating an inclusive environment that balances competitive play with enjoyable social experiences retains a diverse range of participants.
  • Future Growth through Diversification: Expanding into new areas like tournaments and unique league formats attracts different demographics and keeps the league dynamic and appealing.

Below is the full transcript from this episode. The Sold Out Podcast is available on Spotify and Apple, or you can watch the entire interview on our YouTube Channel!

Tune in every other week to hear AREENA interview the country's best league organizers about their success in selling out leagues consistently.

Podcast Transcript

Lance (00:00.924)
All right, today we have Morgan from Lexington Sport and Social Club. Thanks for being here, Morgan. Let's just start with the basics. So where are you guys located? What leagues are you running? How many teams do you guys have kind of participating in any given season across kind of what sports?

Morgan Light (00:16.565)
Yeah, so we're located in Lexington, Kentucky. All of our leagues are based off or ran at city parks or local gyms or local sports complexes. We actually are fortunate enough to have a little deal with the local minor league baseball team here in Lexington. So we use their stadium for leagues when available. But generally in a given season, we generally have between 2000 to 2500 people and we operate year round.

Lance (00:35.48)

Lance (00:44.316)
Okay, what sports? So baseball I guess with the stadium that you mentioned or softball.

Morgan Light (00:49.557)
Just softball, yeah, baseball is definitely a task I'm not looking to tackle at the moment. But right now we're offering about 12 sports and they vary season to season. Generally the biggest are the generic softball, kickball, flag football, stuff like that.

Lance (01:08.732)
Yep. Okay, cool. So what's your like background and how did you get involved and what's like the history of this club?

Morgan Light (01:17.205)
So the club was founded in 2010. The owner of this club or who founded this club particularly actually founded seven across the country. So he was definitely in it from the jump. I was hired as a part -time slow pitch softball umpire back in 2021 and was promoted to the general manager position and he was looking to retire. So I bought it in 2022 and running in solo ever since.

Lance (01:47.484)
Wow, awesome, congrats. That's really cool. So, I mean, why did you get into this space? You started as an umpire, so what, like, obviously you must have been pretty passionate for him to see you and then promote you that quickly. So yeah, why did you get into this?

Morgan Light (02:04.341)
So it's a long story. I'll keep it relatively brief. I was incredibly fortunate enough to, I got a position working for Major League Baseball. It was a part -time position. So obviously I needed some side income, found just a quick job listing for an umpiring position. And I quickly fell in love with the idea of adult sports. It was something I was completely unfamiliar with. I was 20 when I started, so I wasn't even eligible to play in the leagues I was working for.

Lance (02:12.348)

Morgan Light (02:34.389)
But I was quickly submersed in this realm and was just taken back by how incredible I think it is. It's an unbelievable opportunity for people to network, stay active, meet new friends, you know, explore the city that they live in or just moved to. It's just an awesome business model.

Lance (02:57.82)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. So you guys are part of the sport and social network, correct? So that was originally, that was like when you took over, that was the case, right? So yeah, I guess I'm kind of curious about when you took over versus where you're at now, like how much has changed or what were some things that you saw that you've made changes with or thought should be done differently or what's been done really well or?

Morgan Light (03:08.277)

Morgan Light (03:25.365)
So we'll start with the good. Like I said, the clubs have been operating for 14 years now. And there's been people who are still playing today that played back in 2010. So the biggest thing that I learned upfront was get to know these people who have been around for the longest time. Get to know the people who have kind of built this little mini community, right?

you know, take their feedback into consideration, find out what the actual people like, because, you know, it's, it's, it's my company, but they're the ones who are really driving it, right? So you really have to take into account what your players like, what they don't like, but also taking it with a grain of salt, because obviously, you know, whenever you're dealing with sports, there's winners and losers. So, you know, there's going to be negative feedback no matter what you do, but it is important to, you know,

listen to the people, find out what works, what doesn't.

Lance (04:28.156)
Yeah, well, I guess two questions. How do you think about getting feedback? Because it feels like that's some people that's kind of an institutional thing where they're just constantly getting feedback and making changes and some it's like a spurt of feedback to get a, you know, launch a new initiative or whatever. So how do you think about getting feedback? Are you out often like meeting with people or do you do surveys or that kind of thing? And then was there anything that you sort of changed based on feedback recently?

Morgan Light (04:53.525)
Absolutely. So the biggest help for me specifically has always been surveys, postseason surveys for every sport, every league that I run. I think it's incredibly, incredibly important to know what people liked, what people didn't like. Did this field offer something that another field didn't? You know, it's very simple things, but that's the difference between somebody coming back and someone not, in my opinion.

So surveys, I think it's incredibly important to be on the ground watching your leagues every now and then. I try to be out there at least three or four nights a week. I try to officiate or umpire every single league in a season just so you're really submerged into it. It's one thing to watch it from the sidelines, but it's another thing to literally be umpiring a kickball game as silly as it can be.

it is important because you're really diving into what the players are thinking on the spot. Other than that, you know, just getting, you know, email questionnaires, getting feedback from players via email, you know, whether it's good or bad. But the biggest change that I've made in the past few years is people, you know, location is paramount.

People don't want to drive a certain distance or don't want to go to a certain part of town. They want to go to the best fields, whatever the case is. Location is incredibly important for adult leagues in my opinion.

Lance (06:19.516)

Lance (06:33.852)
Yeah, so how do you take action on that kind of feedback? I mean, I know a lot of people talk about facilities, like the quality of the facility and having, if it's a feel -good turf or whatever it is, but a lot of people I think struggle to find, I think we have, you know, I know someone right now who's, they're partnering with a private school and they're struggling. It's like the, you know, they will.

suddenly have an event and not tell him and his stuff gets canceled or the floors are dirty and he's got to be in there like sweeping, you know, 30 minutes before and just all that kind of stuff. So how do you think about like that? Like I guess facility partnerships, if you get, you know, some feedback, are you, do you just have kind of a list of all the potential fields? I mean, you guys have been around for a while, you have a reputation and yeah. So how do you, how do you kind of think about if you're going to make a change, you know, working with the facility and or how do you find a new one?

Morgan Light (07:27.989)
That's, that is, that's always a struggle because, you know, if, if one gym closes or is unavailable or whatever the case may be, it's not like there's another gym being built. there, there is definitely a cap on the amount of places that you can go to, but maybe it is a benefit of being around for awhile, but it is incredibly important to build relationships with parks and rec or your local private school, or in our case, a local baseball team. What, whatever your...

you know, specific, you know, relationship is with that, that host. It's important to know their schedule. Like you said, you've got, you just have to build a really personal relationship.

Lance (08:13.052)
How do you do that? Especially if you're sort of flat -footed and you know that maybe there's a facility, do you have any tips and tricks, like tactical stuff of how do you go from, I don't even know who owns this facility to a great relationship?

Morgan Light (08:27.509)
Well, I always turn back to the relationship that I've built with this local baseball team here in town. There's times where I'll just show up at their front door. And maybe that's an overly aggressive approach. But I try to find that little in between pestering people and annoying them to death and just being way too relaxed. Because in the past, like you said, that scenario where the private school had an event.

Lance (08:37.02)

Morgan Light (08:57.141)
Sometimes that happens, but it seems in my opinion, in my experience, it seems to happen more when you don't have a really personal phone call, text, message relationship with the people you're renting from. So I'll just shoot people text every now and then, hey, how are things looking? How's the facility? Even if I'm not even there, just keeping and maintaining relationships in your community is incredibly beneficial in my opinion.

Lance (09:11.516)
Mm -hmm.

Lance (09:26.3)
Totally. Do you ever like systematize that with any kind of CRM or anything so you know you haven't hit somebody up or is it you just have these relationships you'll just hit them up every now and then?

Morgan Light (09:34.485)
Yeah, whenever they just pop into the brain, I really try to, you know, and that's a part of what we do in my opinion. I tell people all the time, yeah, we're Lexington sports and social, you know, as silly as it is. I view these people as, you know, people in my community who I just want to be attached to, whether it's business or personal. I think it's just important to just build that because every, any.

Lance (09:35.772)
Yeah. Yeah.

Morgan Light (10:03.925)
ounce of knowledge they can give me, it benefits my company, but it also benefits the players. It's a trickle down effect. So it's really small minute things, but it's just all about relationship building in my opinion.

Lance (10:16.38)
Yeah, and I agree with the sometimes you just got to show up and there were times where we were trying to find soccer fields a few years ago and you would see one and then you have no idea who is it it's not even really on the map and you can't get a hold of anybody and there were times where I would just show up and knock and be like hello is anybody here and then you turn it turns out it's like owned by this church and they kind of use it sometimes but yeah there maybe they're open to renting on a certain night or whatever and

Yeah, there's a lot of value in, and you're right, there's like a balance between aggressive and passive, but just showing up can do a lot. Sweet. So yeah, like a warm introduction kind of thing.

Morgan Light (10:50.453)
Yeah. And having an A. Yeah, it's...

Morgan Light (10:57.333)
Yeah, or it helps to know people. I'm not from Lexington. I moved here about a year before about the business. I didn't know anybody. I didn't know, I knew nobody in this realm, but once you build these relationships, it truly is amazing. Again, maybe it's just a, I'm, you know, just got lucky, but the more I build these personal relationships, they refer me to other locations, other venues.

Lance (11:00.572)

Morgan Light (11:25.973)
It's kind of a, you know, it's just one big network anyway. So it really can just help you in the long run just by building it.

Lance (11:34.108)
Yeah, totally. So that's kind of like the facility piece. You get feedback sometimes that facilities have an issue, but you've got these relationships and that allows you to kind of do the navigating that you need to to move things if possible or whatever. Are there other kind of pieces of, whether it's feedback you get like directly or just how you think about it, are there other parts of the player experience that you really focus a lot to ensure there's a great facility, but like are there other things you kind of think about?

day to day and trying to ensure that people have a great time and are going to come back.

Morgan Light (12:09.301)
Absolutely. Another thing that I've done definitely more recently, I try to play in every sport, not at the same time, you know, obviously it would be too hectic, but you know, provide yourself with the customer experience so you know what it feels like. Generally, people who are in this position, who run these leagues or have these businesses, they love sports. They love people. They're sports people and they're social people. I mean, it's generally it's...

they go hand in hand. It's really important to be on the ground and know the product that you're providing. And I feel like, you know, if you participate in it, whether that's working a league, umpiring, playing in it, you know, you can really, really start to understand, okay, is this something that the average person would spend their money on?

Lance (12:54.588)
Thank you.

Lance (13:01.404)
Yep, yeah, that makes a ton of sense. So I guess then translating that out, and obviously I've never been to Lexington, so I don't know the landscape, but I imagine there's competition for what you guys do. Is that true, or is there another big league in the area, or are you guys kind of the dominant and adult provider?

Morgan Light (13:21.781)
So we are definitely the dominant, longest active, by far the largest. There is one group that does generally run the same model. And that is something that ever since I bought the business, I would love to collaborate. I would love to build a relationship with them. Unfortunately, that just hasn't worked out and that's fine. There's also an LGBTQ focused group here in town, which...

We have a great relationship. I've tried to help them in the past by all means. My number one goal, and I've told people from the jump, if there's competition, it's not, in my opinion, it's not the same competition the way McDonald's and Wendy's are competitors. There's a different demographic crossover, in my opinion, and the more people that we can get playing adult sports, the better. I don't...

Lance (14:08.188)
Mm -hmm.

Morgan Light (14:19.541)
It shouldn't have to be a one or the other. It should be an incredibly inclusive and welcoming business type. So.

Lance (14:26.172)
Totally. Yeah. So you generally think about it more in collaboration. I ask that question because sometimes I go down the path of asking like, you know, how do you think about differentiation for your product and why somebody would choose you versus somebody else? And do you focus on any like real specific elements? I mean, is it the facility relationships that you have locked down? Is it, you know, the competitive balance that you try to create and the links you go to to make sure everybody's having a good time or?

Or is this something else? Is that something that you think about very often?

Morgan Light (14:57.173)
Absolutely. Again, it always gets back to you can spend your money, you know, you can spend your $50 on an adult kickball league or you could go out with friends or you can go to a movie. You know, there's a million things that people can find, you know, for entertainment to, you know, to spend their time and spend their money on. How can I make this, you know, something that keeps you active, helps you meet new people, but you have a good time. And for the people who are...

Lance (15:10.716)

Morgan Light (15:26.197)
you know, who played college football or whatever to people who have never played a sport in their life. How do you balance that? How do you make sure player A and player B have a good time playing the same sport when they're clearly not on the same generic athletic playing field, right? You gotta keep it fun, you gotta keep it loose. There's just a balance and that just comes with time.

Lance (15:44.348)
Right, right.

Lance (15:51.484)
Got it, yeah, yeah, that makes sense. So, I guess kind of going forward, how do you think about things? So you've taken over, stabilized, built a lot of great relationships, ensuring there's a great experience, you're out there all the time. Do you have, I guess, plans for the next kind of few years of where you want to take it?

Morgan Light (16:09.109)
Absolutely. I try to be as ambitious and lofty as possible, you know, make some more fun that way, right? But no, I would love to, my goal has always been, again, you know, it's like beating a dead horse, you know, keeping people active, helping people make new friends, all that good stuff. Like that's, that's, you know, that's the foundation of the business. But on top of that, there's a million different.

Lance (16:15.644)
Yep. Yep.

Morgan Light (16:36.501)
avenues to make people in a sports mindset happy. Whether that's, you know, I've seen there's some leagues that, you know, will do like a beer in hand, slip and slide kickball league or, you know, ultra competitive flag football, whatever it is. But it's, it's about growing to that point where, you know, that there's going to be a crowd for each one of those specific ideas. But I would love to get into a more, you know, tournament based on top of leagues, but you know, getting into.

tournaments, getting into charity events, charity tournaments, stuff like that. That's definitely my direction.

Lance (17:11.1)
Wow, that's the next thing is tournaments. Do you guys do any tournaments now or that's just something that you're thinking about doing?

Morgan Light (17:19.637)
As far as I know, there has not been basically any tournament in the 14 year history of the club. I mean, maybe a pop up little one here or there, but again, with the relationship that I built with this local minor league baseball team, obviously they have a, I think it's like an 8 ,000 seat stadium. It's got plenty of room obviously, kind of a grand opportunity to host a.

Lance (17:40.924)
How are they, yeah?

Morgan Light (17:45.877)
charity kickball tournament, stuff like that. Bringing people out in the community, like obviously being in this, did you all run kickball leagues?

Lance (17:57.404)
Now we just did basketball and soccer.

Morgan Light (18:00.533)
Gotcha. And you know, that's, you know, what people would generally expect. But as someone who I came into this completely blind, had never even heard of an adult sports club, kickball, I would say to the average person seems, you know, kind of silly, you know, a bunch of adults drinking a beer, playing kickball, you know, a lot of people would look at that and say, that's ridiculous. Or, you know, on the other hand, that's the coolest thing ever. Let's be kids again. But, you know,

If you can bring out a local celebrity, a former college basketball player, whatever, somebody who has a little gravitational pull naturally, it really can pull the average person to want to play in a kickball tournament, stuff like that.

Lance (18:49.02)
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. When we were doing the basketball leagues, like around the DFW, we tried a thing where we had the champion of each league in the playoffs would get to play at the local, we partnered with the G league. And so they had a stadium for basketball that was very, very cool. And then so we would have like a champions tournament where the winners would all play each other. And so it'd be like eight teams that sort of enter and, you know, one that wins. And I don't know if we made money off it or anything. I mean, it was, we did it as like a free thing for anybody who won. So we definitely didn't make money on it.

But it was really fun. But I imagine with a lot of these tournaments, and I can see from your website, sponsors can really help with a lot of these sorts of things. And you mentioned somebody with gravitational pull and attention and those kind of things. And then offsetting some of the costs. So did you, I guess, were these sponsors already kind of a part of the gig when you were there and its relationships you've continued? Or?

Like how do you think I guess about sponsors and where have they come from? Have you added any new ones? Just yeah, can you talk a little bit about sponsorship?

Morgan Light (19:50.133)
Absolutely. Sponsorship has been one of the forefronts of my mind ever since taking over. I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with one of the, you know, what I would call one of the OGs who started a club, gosh, probably 20 years ago in Florida. And she kind of gave me a nice little model. I believe she told me she would expect like 60 % of her annual revenue to be, you know, league registrations and then...

Lance (19:55.9)

Morgan Light (20:19.317)
about 20 to 25 % in events and then 10 to 15 in sponsorships. And I was looking at my numbers and at the time our sponsorships was like 2 % of our annual revenue. And that was a big eye -opener. When you hear it's like, wow, all these other clubs are able to connect with businesses, a lot of national brands, why can't we? So it's been a lot of trial and error, lots of...

Lance (20:32.508)

Morgan Light (20:48.533)
cold calling, emailing, I've shown up at businesses and just kinda given them the rundown, hey, here's what we have to offer, is this something you're interested in? But some of the relationships were handed to me, were just carried over. Some of them I've went out and got. And you know, it's a time consuming thing, but it's also something that can be heavily rewarding, because it can be a win for the business you're working with, it's a win for you.

And if you do it right, it can be a win for your customers. And that's the most important part.

Lance (21:25.084)
Yeah, yeah, that's huge. I mean, I feel like the sponsorship is kind of the scary black box for a lot of people. And that number that you mentioned, like 10 to 15%, I mean, I remember first hearing about that and I'm like, whoa, that's, I mean, that's significant. That can really help. And I was talking to Brian from Chicago Sport and Social. He was saying that a lot of their leagues, they target 15 to 35 % gross margin for the league. So it's like, if you're making

Morgan Light (21:32.277)

Lance (21:51.836)
20 % of gross margin or something and then you add on 10 % in sponsorship. That's a significant impact to your profitability and therefore sustainability of the business so that it's worth your time and you can invest in it and do all that kind of stuff. So do you have, I mean for somebody who's I guess new to this, maybe they have like a good amount of players or maybe not, but like are there any tactical, so you mentioned like it's hustle, you gotta show up, but like what is, how are you selling these people to become sponsors? Is there like a certain,

simple pitch where that you can, you know, there's like a formula where it's like that, okay, that gets it to work. And then on the backend, if you do sell a sponsor, how do you keep them happy and keep them coming back?

Morgan Light (22:34.549)
It's a challenge. It is definitely a challenge. Generally, if it's a financially, it's a transactional thing, they want to see the ROI quick. So you want to make sure you get it off the ground and get it off the ground before they start to ask questions. You want to really show your value. But in terms of a pitch,

or trying to acquire them off the bat. Obviously, I have a pitch deck and here's what I can offer you in both terms, but it's way more so whenever I have a sponsorship meeting, I...

make it imperative to meet in person. Again, build a connection, build a personal connection, get to know who you're working with. The first meeting that I always go to, let's say it's a bar, I try my absolute hardest to not even talk about the business. I wanna get to know the bar owner. I wanna get to know them as a person, professionally and just who they are because if they're not, if...

Lance (23:28.988)

Morgan Light (23:55.797)
If it's not a good fit, then the players won't go to the bar, stuff like that. It's, you know, simple math, but really building that relationship upfront, then showing them, Hey, we have a lucrative and captive demographic, you know, of X amount of people that we can market your business to. You can, you know, I always ask, you know, can you do discounts, you know, specific promo code, stuff like that.

Lance (23:57.532)
Mm -hmm.

Yep. Yep.

Lance (24:25.724)

Morgan Light (24:25.813)
And that way that's much more easy or that's easier to track, you know, ROI because generally, you know, in the software business, you can, you can track, you know, promo sales, stuff like that. But again, building relationships, that's, that's the name of the game.

Lance (24:40.22)
Yeah, interesting. So is it like, is most of it bars, I guess, with the, you know, you guys being adult social type club or like what kind of, what's the breakdown? Is it mostly like bars or I think I see alcohol brands on your, like a cider company or something. So is that the bulk of it?

Morgan Light (24:59.157)
That's the bulk of it as of now. One of my goals going forward, I have a category list, you know, bars, breweries, cideries, apparel. So generally, you know, to use an easy example, Nike. Obviously Nike's, you know, that's out there or a Gatorade. Something that obviously fits our demographic. People who play in sports leagues generally wear Adidas and Nike, stuff like that, you know.

But you know, breaking it down into categories, knowing, you know, finding a gym, finding, we work with the University of Kentucky, their healthcare department. They're a major sponsor for us. Finding places in your community. National brands are a little harder that I found, but I know a lot of larger clubs have great relationships with, you know, Anheuser -Busch and stuff like that.

Lance (25:54.652)
on the bigger one.

Yeah, yeah.

Morgan Light (25:58.197)
I try to just categorize them all and hunt a few specific ones in each category.

Lance (26:05.148)
I've heard, I haven't heard as much of the apparel, although a little bit. I've definitely heard some of the alcohol, either like bars or actual sort of brands. And then the healthcare one kind of comes up every now and then. And I think I've heard it some in the context of like urgent care centers, but what's the value for the University of Kentucky healthcare centers? Is that like people get injured, they want them to be thinking about them for their healthcare?

Morgan Light (26:30.037)
Absolutely. It's a nail on the head. Every season they send us a banner to put some of our fields. It's little things that the average player, they probably don't even notice it, right? It's we're here to help. This is the location. This is the number to call the hours. Stuff like that. It's so like people just don't even realize it. But I...

Lance (26:39.004)

Morgan Light (26:57.556)
I can't even make it up when I've had people, you know, sprain an ankle or, you know, pull their hammy, whatever. They know who to call. It's weird, but there is a major return on investment for, you know, the local healthcare place.

Lance (27:12.476)
Yeah Yeah, I mean, I know there's definitely some stuff. I've had a soccer league where somebody like she shattered her leg it was awful and so it definitely those things happen and and So it makes sense that there's gonna be that kind of relationship. So for them and for Bars you mentioned like promo codes and so I guess the demonstrating the ROI For bars and things like that. Is it is it promo codes? Like you're giving your players like a discount and then the bar tracks how many of those?

Morgan Light (27:21.265)

Lance (27:41.276)
were applied and that's kind of the relationship? Or are there any other ways you try to track ROI?

Morgan Light (27:46.389)
That's definitely, that's the easiest, obviously, because that's, you know, on paper clearly shows it. A postseason party, you know, where they can track, you know, if they did X amount on a Monday and then we had a postseason party there and they had a great night, little things like that. Specifically with the cider company that we work with, that's, that's who hosts our cornhole league on Wednesday nights. And, you know, it's a, it's a massive.

Lance (28:01.628)
Yeah. Yeah.

Lance (28:10.748)

Morgan Light (28:14.965)
uptick in their Wednesday night sales, right? You know, you bring 200 people to a cidery on a Wednesday, they're going to love you, you know? It's not as easy for us to track the physical ROI, but it's way more so, here's a few hundred adults, right? We'll bring them to you, not to the place down the street.

Lance (28:18.044)

Lance (28:22.268)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Lance (28:37.308)
Yeah. Right. It's probably, I mean, yeah, I would imagine if it's like, hey, we're gonna have a party on Monday night and Monday night's packed or the league runs there and it's packed. I mean, they're probably a little bit less concerned if they can kind of look outside or look into the bar and see tons of people and it's obvious that you're driving it. Cool.

Morgan Light (28:54.837)
Right. And one of the best things that's really helped us West Sixth is a local brewery. It's the top. It's the biggest brewery in the state of Kentucky. Obviously. So we are very strict. There's no outside alcohol at any of our leagues. It's obviously that's a city law. That's, you know, we don't, that might be contrary to a lot of clubs, but that's not something I mess with. You know, if it's the law, you know, no alcohol. It is what it is.

Lance (29:03.804)

Morgan Light (29:22.197)
But West 6th, we offer a beer tent. We bring the beer tent out to the leagues. It's just a pop -up. They bring a tap. We can still satisfy what the people want by doing it in a legal manner.

Lance (29:28.668)

Lance (29:37.516)
Yeah. Yeah.

Morgan Light (29:39.509)
And obviously, you know, that's a very simple way to track their ROI, because obviously they generate the sales right there and it's only us. But they do a great job. You know, there's a souvenir cup. So if you bring your cup back, you know, you get a discount, stuff like that. People love it. It's a great relationship that we build with them. Their tap room is right across the street from one of the parks we play at. It's just finding those little connections.

Lance (29:56.924)

Morgan Light (30:09.173)
and having innovative ideas to go along with it. And it's a lasting relationship.

Lance (30:12.124)
Mm -hmm.

Lance (30:15.74)
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And also like the focus on not just, I don't know, giving attention or something to whoever's sponsoring, but something that your players are going to love as well, enhancing their experience while also, you know, giving business to a sponsor. Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Yeah. Sweet. I think all that stuff is like super helpful. And the nitty gritty, as you know, you kind of got into it, those details of like, how do you even go about this? I feel like a lot of people...

struggle with it and they just leave a lot of money kind of on the table because they don't even know how to, I talked to somebody and they were like, I'm just not like, I don't know how to sell that. I'm not a sales person, you know, I run a league. So I think all those tips are super helpful. So yeah, maybe the next kind of thing we can chat about maybe the last thing is around staffing. So I think that's another thing people often struggle with is, you know, how do they find referees or if they find them, you know, should they go through an assigner or should they do it sort of.

in -house, how do they deploy them, coordinators, how do you get good ones, how do you ensure that they're, we can actually do a good job out there, so how do you kind of measure performance and think about those kind of things. So can you talk a little bit about your maybe philosophy on staffing and both kind of the referee or umpire side and then also like the coordinator, boots on the ground, commissioner type work.

Morgan Light (31:38.581)
Staffing was my number one headache for well over a year. It's something that you're just not prepared for until you just do it. You just kind of have to figure it out. But I went from having a pool of probably 50 or 60 people texting 20 people at a time, hey, can you cover this? Can you do this game? Can you run this league, right?

Lance (31:41.308)

Morgan Light (32:07.633)
to condensing my pool of people, taking care of them very well, and really just relying on them as opposed to, again, because I used to do it. That's what I started. I started as the guy who worked one or two days a week. It's like I get that aspect of it. And I know what would have made that job and that experience much better is if I was more than...

Lance (32:26.46)

Morgan Light (32:35.797)
just some guy who could cover a shift. Again, relationship building. I feel like I've created a lot of really good relationships with a lot of really good officials, umpires, and staff to the point where they want to stay around. They view it as a hobby that they get paid to do as opposed to a job after their nine to five, right? Because none of these people, it's not a full -time job for a kickball umpire.

Lance (32:51.708)

Lance (33:03.772)
Yep. Yep.

Morgan Light (33:05.333)
But how can you make it lucrative and how can you make them, how can you keep them coming back the same way you keep your players coming back? I feel like simple answer, but treating them well, just making it as lucrative as possible. It's simple math for me.

Lance (33:13.628)

Lance (33:23.036)
So is that, I guess when you say lucrative, I mean, you basically, part of the analysis is like, what can these people make elsewhere doing the exact same thing and just kind of making sure you're up there in terms of pay? And then when you say a good experience as well, how do you make it a good, what are you doing to make it a good experience beyond pay for them?

Morgan Light (33:44.053)
Yeah, so obviously pay that's you know the name of the game Seasonal raises if it's appropriate Longevity raises. I have a guy who's been around for 12 years, I believe He's gonna get priority that's just how I view it He's gonna get the first dibs at things the people love him. The players know him the players have built relationships with him and

Lance (34:05.5)

Morgan Light (34:14.421)
you can tell that he's enjoying it because of that, because he's been around, because the players know him, stuff like that. And that's obviously a very specific individual scenario, but stuff like that. But also in terms of keeping them happy, every umpire, every lead coordinator, everyone on the ground is going to get yelled at. They're going to get cursed out. Half of your players are always losers, right? So somebody's going to be pissed off. I've found that...

Again, I feel like all of my tactics, I would say, are very straightforward, but having their back. There were so many times where I've been umpiring or officiating, not even for my business, I just do it on the side where it just feels like the head honcho, the league manager, they don't have your back. You know, if you get cussed out by a parent or a fan or whoever, you know, you're just kinda, you know, it's just your SOL. But, you know, stepping in.

Lance (35:03.452)

Morgan Light (35:13.717)
Let's say a player gets in an umpire's face, whatever happens, me stepping in and pulling that player to a side, kind of taking care of it for them, I feel like that really does a lot in the long run because it just relieves stress. If you get yelled at, cussed out three, four, five times a week, 10 weeks in a row, you're going to say, screw this, I'm going to go do something else.

Lance (35:27.036)
Mm -hmm.

Lance (35:37.276)
Yeah, yeah, I think that's something I didn't realize before kind of getting into this was the job in itself is kind of simple sometimes on the surface. It's like, you know, you're there's a set of rules and you do whatever. And it's like, that's not what why they sometimes get paid a pretty good hourly rate. Like as a referee, it's because it's so stressful whenever you have these situations where people are fighting. We've had we've had real fights and stuff and we've had all the different kind of things that you can imagine. And yeah, people just get

Morgan Light (35:46.901)

Lance (36:06.428)
in the face of the refs and blame them as if they're playing in the World Cup and everything matters. And those can be tricky to navigate because you're sometimes forced to choose between the umpire and the customer, the player. And so there's like a balance there. And I think it's easy to over -rotate on your customer because you know, that's sort of standard business logic is just obsess over your customers and treat them super well. But...

Morgan Light (36:11.253)

Lance (36:30.172)
at least in my experience, it's like sometimes you have to fire customers. Like there's teams that we've just said you can't play here anymore because you're just not following the community standards. And then funny enough, when you do that, every other team is actually happier and that can be one of the better things you do, but it's like kind of, I don't know, counterintuitive, I guess.

Morgan Light (36:39.253)

Morgan Light (36:47.925)
No, picking out bad apples before they destroy the rest is massive. If you have 25 teams and there's clearly one team that you get all the emails about, the umpires complain about them, they're clearly pissing everyone off, it's so much better to just ask them to not come back as opposed to risking three, four, five teams not coming back because they killed their experience.

Lance (37:15.74)
Right, and the refs having a bad experience with the umpires because they're also being rude to them and yeah, it's just kind of, can be a bit toxic.

Morgan Light (37:17.973)

Morgan Light (37:22.613)
You can replace teams, but you can't replace the good teams as easily. So yeah.

Lance (37:28.924)
Right, totally. Yeah, okay. Sweet, I think we're out of time and that was a lot of the questions. I'm sure we could probably keep talking on this stuff for a while, but yeah, man, thanks for the time. I appreciate it. I think a lot of this will be, especially on the sponsorship stuff, will be super helpful for a lot of people.

Morgan Light (37:44.949)
Thanks for having me. Love to do it. Appreciate it.

Lance (37:46.844)
Yeah. Yep, take care.

Morgan Light (37:49.653)
All right, see you later.


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