How much does it cost? How many riders and staff do you need? What is the return of investment? Why cycling?
Pie Chart ProTeam
2020 is our fourth season as a team, but the first one as an UCI ProTeam. As a professional team we are still a small one in relative economic terms, but I will try reveal some of our financial dashboard data:
The big jump from a UCI Continental Team to a UCI ProTeam is definitely the "Riders" part. Minimum salary levels, holiday allowances, pension and insurances. Now they are not only racing for Uno-X, they are working for Uno-X. UCI has two alternative models; employed and self-employed. To make sure that we take care of our young boys we have chosen the "employed" model. One model for all is an efficient model for all.
Regarding "Staff" and "Operations" I would say it is a bit more of everything compared to last year. 2-2,5 race programs implies 4 sports directors, 4 mechanics, 4 carers, 1-2 bus drivers and 12-14 riders constantly on the move. Logistics are key and planning is everything. Already in January we know where all of our Skoda race cars are supposed to be in August. Heavy operational costs are food, flight tickets and hotels. As an UCI ProTeam we get more coverage from the organizer, but it is still a significant post.
A Marketing Strategy
I am inspired by Red Bull. I am not saying I want every youngster on the planet to drink energy drinks with heavy sugar contents, but I am saying that I like their operational way of thinking (to be fair, they also have a broad range of products). It may help that the company was founded in Salzburgerland, Austria - the second home of my family. Red Bull own and operate its own concepts. Racing teams, a media house, and a broad portfolio of enthusiastic ambassadors. With this "owned content strategy" they control the marketing development of concepts, products and brand.
Uno-X is selling fuel from unmanned stations in Norway and Denmark. We are growing steadily and have been doing so for the last ten years. It might sound strange, but selling fuel and operating a professional cycling team is truly good business. Don't forget - the Uno-X team is our marketing strategy. That's what we do in terms of marketing. We don't have a marketing department or invest in big TV commercials. We run a cycling team. Maybe we can be a mini-Red Bull?!
It's tough to get good financial deals out there. We are not Team Ineos or Movistar. We don't get big cash payments in addition to the equipment. Hence, we have to think differently. Find loyal partners with high quality products. Create long-term value for the sponsors and the team. For me it has been more important to identify and represent quality brands rather than to receive a large chunk of cash payments. Concept is content and we must be open-minded and creative.
I want consistency. I want to create brand awareness. I dream about brand loyalty. The sport of cycling makes it possible to realize this dream. We control the brand, the team and our products. We are exposed for hours during races, at social media and in the local, regional and national news articles. Just the exposure from Tour Colombia alone paid-off the first month of our 2020 investment. This is why we chose cycling. It is our marketing strategy.
At the end I guess your are still thinking about the size of our budget? Well - we have moved beyond budgeting. We are agile, adaptive and a learning business. We are not defined within a time frame of twelve months and a yearly budget process "stealing" all our resources. We run on the basis of a rolling prognosis and this prognosis is daily supported by our superb decision-makers. This means we can move fast, and in one direction. It's not about not having financial control, it's about making sure that we have the right people on the bus. Still want the budget? I guess you have to ask the UCI ;)
Take care and #FlattenTheCurve
About the Author
Jens Haugland is the General Manager of the Uno-X Norwegian Development Team and CEO of Uno-X Norge AS. Amongst friends and family he is well known for his level of enthusiasm and passion for the sport of cycling. You’ll meet him along the roads in the municipality of Nittedal, his beloved home region, on his custom-built DARE GFE or MR1s bike. You may also find him on Twitter by the name @sykkelsjefen, where he share his day to day thoughts on what’s going on in the world of cycling. He’s 36 years old and has three kids together with Elisabeth.
All photos taken by the excellent Jan Brychta + K. Ramon (2017 team photo)