When it comes to managing a relay team, the finances can be one of the trickiest parts. Not done carefully, team members can get stuck footing a large portion of the bill and hard feelings. Others can skate by hardly having paid. But with a few easy steps, you can set your team up for fairness and equality when it comes to paying for the adventure.
1. Ask for the team registration fees when the runner commits.
A runner registering for any other race is going to pay when they sign up, so ask for the portion of the registration fee when that runner commits. Not only will this not drain your own bank account until the time of the race, this will commit the runner to your relay much more strongly than their desire to run. Think about it. How much more likely are you to cancel a race if you haven’t already registered versus when you’ve shelled out the money? The same goes for relays. If you don’t collect the money until the weekend of the race, it’s much easier to back out.
One of my relay teams goes so far as to say that until you find your replacement and that person has paid, your registration money stays with the team. It works out rather well, and no one ends up losing money.
2. Be upfront about costs.
One of the ways a team can get in trouble is to spend on supplies and vehicles without first consulting their team. It may be a struggle for some team members to pay for a fancy van and full costume. Work with your team to plan a budget for the race and stick to it. Many hard feelings come up when expenses weren’t planned for and runners get stuck with a big bill after the race.
If you have a first time relay runner, let them know how much it will cost all told. No one likes surprises when it comes to money.
3. Keep good records.
Set up a simple spreadsheet to track expenses, payments, and so forth so that when it comes time to collect money you have an accurate accounting of what was spent. If you are an established team that plans to run year after year, set can up a separate checking account and run all of your expenses through it for maximum accuracy.
Have everyone turn in race related expenses and do a final accounting within a couple weeks. Send out notices of how much everyone owes or is due (if they foot the bill for some of the expenses). A visual reminder is helpful.
4. Precollect if necessary.
If you have a team that is hard to collect from, you may want to have them prepay the race expenses and then reimburse if there is money left over. This requires good recordkeeping on your part, but for some teams this little extra effort is worth it. A good estimate for expenses is $100 per person for two van rentals, gas costs, some provisions, and other miscellaneous supplies.
Do you have any team finance tips to share? We would love to hear from you.