Stuff Money in Your Pockets, Help the Hornets

Published: March 9, 2011

New Orleans Hornets fans have had a crash course in all aspects of fandom in the past year.  Trades. Ownership. Coaching. Management. Sponsorship. TV deals. Leases. Attendance. Injuries. Public Relations. More Trades. Labor Deals. Playing time. It’s overwhelming. In response to this, we will have a ongoing series of posts: Being and Becoming a Hornets Fan.  

This is the one of those.

Of the easier problems to solve, the one that has the greatest effect on the franchise is the attendance at the games, as it not only reflects money flowing into the team’s treasure chest, but also low attendance can trigger a clause in the lease that will make it easier for the team to leave town. We have already seen groups such as the Hornets Business Council and Save Our Hornets spring up to address this issue. We’ll cover attendance in itself in the normal course of business, and will certainly have a more posts on the subject.  

As evidenced by these organizations, many fans feel a sense of responsibility for helping out the team they love. That sense of responsibility, for some, is a key part of being a Hornets fan. They wear what they do for the team like a badge of honor. They should.

Since the organizations above are focused on buying tickets, I have decided to write about another aspect of this: Selling tickets.  

First, some education.

What is attendance?

Attendance is, first and foremost, a confusing signifier.

The attendance figure that is used is based upon tickets distributed. This includes tickets sold and donated by the team. Tickets scanned so not affect this. Actual gate numbers are important, as they are tied to in-arena sponsorship dollars, but they have nothing to do with the attendance figure of interest despite that being what people actually think of as attending.  

Selling the tickets you’ve already bought to your buddy doesn’t count toward the attendance. You are selling your tickets that have already been distributed by the team. The same is true for tickets on stubhub, ebay, craigslist, ticketexchange, etc.

Likewise, you should not feel broken up about missing a game you have tickets for when you are sick, at least from an attendance figure perspective. Selling or not selling your tickets only affects you and the would-be-recipient, not the team.

So what am I talking about?

What I’m talking about is working for the team. I’m talking about becoming a part of the Hornets organization to sell their tickets to us regular fans, helping both the team’s bottom line and fan’s hold on the team.

Since I couldn’t say much more about working for a sports team than that it sounds like such a cool job, I did some research on this and have put together a detailed `brochure’ for the job.  

These positions have morphed over time, and have gone by different names, but I’ll just call such a job a ‘rep.’  

So what sorts of reps are there?

There are several kinds of reps.  Some reps just do `inside sales,’ which is calling folks who have bought tickets before to see if they would like to buy tickets to upcoming games, if they are aware of current deals, and the like.  

Other reps take care of a set of season ticket holders.  They spend time taking care of requests customers make.  These may include additional seats, upgrades, making payment arrangements, or taking care of lagniappe point requests and other perks.  These reps also make sales.  This sort of rep is considered to be a promotion over the inside sales position.  

There are still other reps that take care of premium customers.  These folks deal with the sales of suits, court-side seats, and other high dollar clients, like Gary Chouest.  Yes, he has a rep.

From there, you add supervising other reps to your job duties.

What do I get out of being a rep?

A rep makes a salary plus commission.  They also make overtime when they work after 5 and on weekends or holidays.  So for each game they are getting paid a good bit.  All totaled, a rep can make over $100,000 a year, and that kind of pay isn’t waiting like a carrot 20 years in the future.

As you can tell, there are levels of rep that are progressed through.  Like in many fields, it’s not always easy to rocket to the top without moving.  So, whether you view it as a plus or a minus, many sales reps move from team to team every few years to make a leap in employment that may not be present at your organization at the same time.  This is not uncommon in many industries today.

There are perks to the job, of course.  Working for sports team comes with a certain status.  You, in time, meet some of the folks from basketball operations (the players, etc. . . . that’s what the cool kids call them) as they show up here and there.  You may also work some special events with them.  For example, when the Hornets returned to New Orleans, Chris and other players manned the phones at times to do sales.  You can help your friends and good customers to upgrades when available, such as court-side seats.  How’s that for getting in good with the in-laws?

So what’s it like being a Rep?

Aside from working for the team and seeing a few front-office notables just wandering around, it’s much like a normal job.  You spend your time around sales staff in a regular office environment, usually cubicles.  You have to deal with the usual office activities and politics: good bosses, bad bosses, good coworkers, bad coworkers.  In this case, however, your boss is Hugh Weber.  There’s something cool about running to Mother’s to get a poboy with one of the thirty team presidents, right? (Yes, I know they aren’t all called that.)

Since the industry is one where the most likely way to advance is by taking a job with another team, and some people just tire of sales even if they are cut out for it, there is high turnover.  It is unlikely you’ll work with the same folks for most of your career. This, of course, can be good or bad.

Can I really be a Rep?  Really?

People with any background can be a rep.  Some people have business degrees or specialized degrees in sports marketing, but some people just have the knack.  For some, this is their first sales job.  What is really required is dedication to your job, as the job requires long hours, and both ability and willingness to do the many things required by this job: sales, customer care, ambassador, tour guide, and more.  

How can I start?

It’s not a job for everyone, but working for a team is a dream job for some.  So how to make that dream come true?

One way to do this is to call up the Hornets and volunteer your time.  They’ll tell you if they need help or not.  I think you won’t get much resistance if you tell them you’d like to help them sell tickets and that you are willing to listen to any suggestions they have to help you do so.  This may be an option for younger fans.  I know they have interns, both official and unofficial, that earn commission on their sales.  Once you are on the inside of the sales organization, who knows where it can lead.  

Another way is to ask if they are hiring and give them a resume.  

Checking for job fairs and ads may work but is probably the least likely way to land a job given that the team is already established here.

For more information, you can call the Hornets at (504) 525-4667.

I want to help, but I’m not changing jobs

There are ways to sell tickets that don’t involve becoming a rep.  Those will be addressed in a coming post.


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