Building Your Competition Planning Team

I’ll never forget where I was the night before I threw our very first competition—on a blow up mattress next to my wife on the floor in my gym. Was it because of procrastination? Nope. Poor planning? Negative. Nerves? A little, but not really. The cause was simple—I didn’t build the right team.

It was my gym’s first comp. I was a project manager and marketer for a Fortune 50 company and I knew how to run events. It was my vision. My baby. And thus, mine alone to conquer. Terrible idea…

The competition actually went quite well, but it succeeded in spite of my major team building mistake. It took me way longer than it should have and even worse it took my attention away from my core business – my gym!

The Consequence of Building the Wrong Team

Now in my case, my mistake was not building a team at all but it also applies to assembling the wrong team. Think about it, if you build the wrong team (or none at all) there are only 3 possible outcomes:

  • Best Case: Event goes off without a hitch but you spent 3x the amount of time and resources you should have. You and your team will have gone through many ups and downs and will need a little mental reprieve to recover afterwards.
  • Typical Case: The quality of your event suffers AND so does your gym.  You immediately question if it was the right idea and doubt you will do it again. There is probably a rift or two that needs repairing between you and a team member because they were put in a role that wasn’t a fit.
  • Worst Case: Your event is a failure. You may have to cancel the comp because of lackluster sign-ups or inadequate preparation. Even worse, the event goes on and is executed poorly. All team members are frustrated and the blame game begins.

How to Build the Right Planning Team—Building the right planning team is a three step process.  

Step 1 – Identify Roles and Responsibilities

There are a few standard roles that are needed for every competition planning team.  Note that it is possible and even likely that one person will fill multiple roles. Don’t worry about that now, just clarify the skills and time commitment needed in this step.

Role Role Description Time Commitment
Project Manager Ultimately responsible for the success of the competition. Creates the planning schedule, coordinates all resources, solves problems, and keeps everything on track. Responsible for planning the day of logistics. 3-4 hrs/wk for 12 weeks
Marketing Manager Two main responsibilities: 1) Getting athletes and volunteers to sign-up. 2) Creating all branding around the event. They must work with the appropriate resources to create all logos, imagery, and marketing materials. They craft and execute a marketing plan that typically involves a FB event page, FB/Insta ads, networking with other gyms, etc. 3-4 hrs/wk for 6 weeks

1-2 hrs/wk for 6 weeks

Sales Manager Responsible for generating all revenue outside of ticket sales. This means sponsorships, vendors, retail, etc. 1-2 hrs/wk for 12 weeks
Communications Manager This is the person that will be the single point of contact for questions from athletes and volunteers. And trust me…there will be some..a lot really. 1-2 hrs/wk for 12 weeks
Programmer Programs the workouts for your competition. PROGRAMMING HAS TREMENDOUS IMPACT ON LOGISTICS. The should be tied to your project manager at the hip. 0.5-1hr/wk for 10 weeks

Step 2: Assess fit and availability of resources

The best fit for the job is often not under your roof! I repeat…THE BEST FIT FOR THE JOB IS OFTEN NOT UNDER YOUR ROOF! Just because Coach Craig can lead one hell of a class and diagnose the smallest of issues with the snatch doesn’t mean he is the right fit for any of the roles on your planning team.  Similarly, it doesn’t mean he even WANTS to be in one of those roles. Even if Coach Craig is a fit and actually wants to help plan the competition, does he have the capacity?

Naturally, you will be tempted to turn to yourself. If you run a successful affiliate, I have no doubt you can be great at many of these roles.  Key question for you…where will you find the time? What will you quit doing? Serving your members? Marketing? Building programs? My point is you need to be very honest up front on who is a fit, who has the desire, and who has the time.

In some cases the answer is within, but in many cases the answer is not. There are people out there you can hire to do it for you.

Of course you’ll have to pay them, but it’s typically less than what you’d lose in gym revenue.

Step 3: Finalize the team, budget, and expectations

Once you’ve gone through the resource analysis you need to make sure the numbers line up. Whether it is internal or external resources, you will need to pay them.  Internal folks will need to paid along the way, will be cheaper per hour, but will take more hours.  Factor in any potential loss you will experience in your core business.

External resources will be more expensive per hour, but typically require fewer hours and don’t need to be paid until you make the money from your competition. Combine the hour estimations from earlier with our budget template to see what you have room for. Once you’ve made the call, write up contracts with the roles, responsibilities, and pay and have the team member sign.