Author Topic: The Story of a Dollar  (Read 4139 times)

Texas16

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The Story of a Dollar
« on: March 15, 2009, 05:10:40 PM »
Who bought Girl Scout cookies this year? 

Do you really believe that each $4.00 box of cookies you buy makes the national director of the Girls Scouts four dollars richer?  Of course you don’t!   In fact, the website for the Girl Scouts of America says that they receive only about 40-60 cents for each box of cookies sold.  Do you know that those Samoas Caramel Delights cost you 26.7 cents per cookie?  But when you’re enjoying that delectable treat of caramel, coconut, chocolate and shortbread, you’re not thinking about that 26.7 cents you just wolfed down.  You’re thinking about helping out all of those cute little girls wearing their green uniforms covered in merit badges who just sold you a box.  ('Course, the cookies ain't bad either!)

In the past couple of weeks, one of our members posted the following:

This weekend, LVMS had drinks off for a WHOLE DOLLAR - part of the FANtasic Stimulator Package….  Oh wait, that still meant a bottle of water was "only" $3.00

For the struggling fan who’s scrimped and saved in order to attend the race, that really doesn’t seem like much of a FANtastic deal.  It really does seem that if NASCAR and the tracks really cared about the fans, they could do a little more to help.  I’d like to impose on your time a little and tell you a bit more about that “whole dollar”.

First, a caveat.  I think it’s no secret that I work in the business.  Sometimes I have to walk a fine line between professional interests and my passionate enthusiasm as a NASCAR fan.  EVERYTHING I post publicly can be experienced or observed by any race fan, or it is strictly personal opinion.  I’m very careful to respect that fine line, and I firmly believe that the comments that follow are no different.  So, brushing the dirt off of my soap box….

I’ll start with a little math.  A dollar off on the price of a bottle of water or soft drink to just $3.00 makes that a 25% reduction.  That means, then, before the race weekend even begins, a soft drink vendor knows that his revenue will be reduced by 25%, essentially a 25% pay cut.  The hole in that argument is that vendors will make up that lost dollar from every drink sold through other products.  However, despite assertions that no one else was dropping prices, I know with absolute certainty that other prices were dropped accordingly.  Possibly not across-the-board, but definitely on a number of items.  Therefore, that dollar will not be recovered through the sale of other products though its ultimate impact might not be fully 25%.

It’s easy to associate an image of Brian France, Bruton Smith, Tony George, Roger Penske, Dale Earnhardt Jr or any of the major track owners or NASCAR big-whigs with where the money spent on a soft drink, hot dog, t-shirt or grandstand seat ultimately goes.  But that’s just simplistic thinking.  They’re the public face representing the thousands and thousands of people who work for them.

So where does the money go?  First, the wholesale supplier.  I have serious doubts that Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Johnsonville Brats, Frito-Lay, bread, condiment & beer suppliers, et al are reducing their wholesale costs.  And what about the distributors?  What about transportation costs for that sea of green t-shirts that we see in the stands?  Or those evil food wrappers at Michigan that force drivers to the pits for a grill cleaning?  These are all costs associated with every Coke, hot dog, or hat purchased.

Next there’s the labor.  In addition to the guy who’s just asked you if you want jalapenos on your nachos, there are the people in the kitchens preparing the burgers, the warehouse people who have make sure the jalapenos are in the concession stands and available, the purchasers who have to anticipate that possibly you’d like jalapenos on your nachos or ketchup on your burger.  Who makes up that labor pool?  The majority of labor is hired for the weekend only, however there are year-round regular employees.  As for the event staff, many of these people are from non-profit groups doing some fund raising knowing that they’re essentially volunteering their time in order to fund their group—in some cases battered women’s shelters, food banks, church groups, school groups, etc.

Less tangible expenses also exist.  Advertising and promotion, facility maintenance, equipment, security and safety, general administrative, waste management and cleaning.  I can’t even fathom what the electricity bill is for a track that runs a race under the lights.  It’s not just the lights on the race track, but it’s also all of lights in the garages, the grandstands, the parking lots, the walkways, the restrooms.  What about the fuel for the generator-operated light towers on the roads that keep pedestrians safe and traffic moving as smoothly as possible.  Not only have these costs to the individual tracks not been reduced but especially in the case of electricity they’ve escalated over the past year.

So back to that $3 soft drink.  If vendors are reducing their revenues by 25% at the races, who’s suffering?  In large part, it’s the people who are working to make our racing experiences the best they can possibly be.  Consider the non-profit groups.  The people from the battered women’s shelter who volunteer their time at the track for four days so that the commission they make off of soft drink sales will help them buy supplies and cover expenses for their own facility.  Now their commission is reduced by 25%.  Obviously that’s only a portion of their facility’s funding, but it still represents some blankets, food, clothing, and toys that abused women and children won’t get this year.  I’ve read recently that reported cases of domestic abuse nearly double during times of high unemployment.

What about your kids’ school and sports groups?  Anybody here have a child on a sports team or who plays in the school band?  All of those trips to band competitions cost parents quite a bit of money.  It’s always helpful when the booster clubs can raise a little money to help pay for them.  Well, this fund-raiser has, from the first roar of engines firing up, lost 25% of their weekend’s potential.  That means each of you band, softball, or little league parents has to come up with more money to cover the cost of your child’s trips.  You might even have to buy a piece of equipment that the booster club has previously bought.

And what about the year-round employees at the tracks and the vendors who travel the NASCAR circuit?  Every business person will say that when a company suffers a 25% loss of revenue, all facets of that company will have to be scaled back in order to continue operating.  That includes employees.  One midwestern track operates with about 50 year-round staff members, and 25% of that is 12 ½ people.  It doesn’t sound like very many, but that’s 12.5 house payments, car payments, credit card payments, etc. that potentially fall behind.  That’s 12.5 additional people whose unemployment insurance we as taxpayers are paying.  That’s 12.5 additional people competing for jobs that already don’t exist.  Multiply that by 20 tracks with similar staffs, and you’ve got 250 people.  Then there are the college students who need part-time jobs to help them get through school.  If I’m not hiring your sons and daughters, you’re having to come up with an extra few hundred dollars to cover books and school expenses that their part-time jobs cover now.  It’s either a private company paying these kids for 20 hours a week, or it’s the taxpayer who’s subsidizing their increased student loans or paying more to support state universities and colleges through our property taxes by having these kids work on-campus jobs.  Worst case scenario, some of these kids won’t be able to go to school at all for want of a part-time job.

The point I’ve labored to make is that the tracks, the t-shirt and concession vendors, NASCAR, the competitors—everyone involved in putting on a race—are doing everything they can to make it possible for racing fans to continue to enjoy this incredible sport even in economic hard times. 

Personally, I’m blessed and I do count myself very lucky to have work.  As a staff person, I’m not looking for any great kudos.  Seeing just one excited race fan truly makes every minute of my work worthwhile.  I love what I do. 

But this I do ask:  until you understand what happens on the other side of the concession counter, please don’t belittle the efforts that are being made on the fans’ behalf or underestimate the impact these efforts have on the people who are there to make your weekend at the races the best it can be.  It’s “only” a dollar to you, but it’s a whole lot more to them. 
Bug-Eyed Dummy can drive.

Racing Rocks

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2009, 06:34:05 PM »
WOW...... That's all I can say right now.... T16 you have me in a deep thought pattern after this post of yours..  8)

zooney9334

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2009, 04:53:34 PM »
Just to play devil's advocate...

The same looking bottle of water outside of the track was 2 for $2.00.  Now I don't know if there are special bottles that cost more to manufacture or bottle or whatever, but if that's the case then I need to start collecting them.

I can't disagree with anything else you wrote.  I think that Bruton Smith, Brian France, et. al. should reduce their percentage of the dollars so the non-profit organizations get more.  (Yup, that's the liburrul in me speaking  ;D )

Texas16

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2009, 11:27:50 AM »
I can't disagree with anything else you wrote.  I think that Bruton Smith, Brian France, et. al. should reduce their percentage of the dollars so the non-profit organizations get more.  (Yup, that's the liburrul in me speaking  ;D )

Obviously I didn't make my point.  You don't understand:  there is NO Brian France sitting in an office somewhere, counting the weekend's take and rubbing his hands together in Montgomery Burns-esque style saying "Excellent, excellent".  That's just sophomoric thinking.  I repeat:  Brian France is simply the public face of thousands and thousands and thousands of employees and vendors who work for his company and of contractors who supply services to his company--all of them just average Joes out there trying to make a living.  That's like thinking that the Mayor of Las Vegas personally receives every penny derived from the city's sales tax, hotel/motel tax, property tax.  Of course not.  He's simply the guy who is the public face of all of the teachers, sanitation workers, police persons, dog-catchers, accountants, office clerks, firefighters, etc.  Just like Brian France is the public face of all of the NASCAR pit officials, garage workers, inspection line workers, flagstand workers, accountants, marketing people, and the ISC staff and event workers, etc.  So when you say that Brian France needs to take a hit, you're really asking all of the people who work for NASCAR and ISC in whatever capacity to take that hit.  Wait!  That's exactly what's already happening!
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Intimidatoruag

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2009, 03:22:24 PM »
girl scout cookie are actually $3 a box this year down from $3.50 last year ....

caboolarue

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2009, 05:24:08 PM »
Mine Cost $3.50 a box. Gee Guess I got ripped off.

zooney9334

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2009, 11:58:53 PM »
Obviously I didn't make my point.  You don't understand:  there is NO Brian France sitting in an office somewhere, counting the weekend's take and rubbing his hands together in Montgomery Burns-esque style saying "Excellent, excellent".  That's just sophomoric thinking.  I repeat:  Brian France is simply the public face of thousands and thousands and thousands of employees and vendors who work for his company and of contractors who supply services to his company--all of them just average Joes out there trying to make a living.  That's like thinking that the Mayor of Las Vegas personally receives every penny derived from the city's sales tax, hotel/motel tax, property tax.  Of course not.  He's simply the guy who is the public face of all of the teachers, sanitation workers, police persons, dog-catchers, accountants, office clerks, firefighters, etc.  Just like Brian France is the public face of all of the NASCAR pit officials, garage workers, inspection line workers, flagstand workers, accountants, marketing people, and the ISC staff and event workers, etc.  So when you say that Brian France needs to take a hit, you're really asking all of the people who work for NASCAR and ISC in whatever capacity to take that hit.  Wait!  That's exactly what's already happening!

So Brian France is doing this completely out of the goodness of his heart?  Wow...

Texas16

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2009, 08:49:30 AM »
So Brian France is doing this completely out of the goodness of his heart?  Wow...

Again, simplistic thinking.
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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2009, 08:00:46 PM »
T-16...... Just a question before I even try and put any reponse to this....  Who sets the price for the rental or lease of the space these vendors pay for race weekend ?? I have a reason I'm asking... Because I was told a story some years back by Chad Little's sister when they were running his trailer... And from that story, I gathered the price was through the roof...  And the high cost of rent was passed on to the race fan...

zooney9334

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2009, 08:35:20 PM »
Again, simplistic thinking.

Sorry to disappoint you, my vision IS of Brian, Burton, etc. sitting there looking for more.  Why else would they abandon their roots and head to California, Dover, etc.?  Why would they want to expand their base? 

#1Jimmiefan

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2009, 08:05:10 PM »
You can take the scenario T16 gave below and apply that to ANY business.

Look at the travel industry, for example...people whine and gripe about the cost of renting a vehicle, the cost of flying, the cost of staying in a hotel. What they do not stop and think about is that these companies are doing the best they can to try and keep customer costs fair while still having the ability to maintain equipment, lease space for their company, and maintain enough employees to handle the upkeep of equipment, the reservations, cleaning costs, customer service, etc. You can't simply blame the "head honcho" of a company or organization for just trying to rake in more money as being the reason you, the consumer, have to pay more than you believe is fair. I am not saying there is not SOME truth to that, of course they want to line their pockets, BUT the ultimate goal is to keep the business IN business and maintain a customer base so that when the economy starts to look up they will still be around to serve their customer's.

That's my two cents. T16, RIGHT ON for your post.

Racing Rocks

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Re: The Story of a Dollar
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2009, 10:13:01 AM »
You have a good point # 1 JF.............  ;D