On the court, the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team just completed its best finish in school history, setting multiple records including, but not limited to, receiving one first place vote (from notable author John Feinstein), a top-25 ranking for a school-record 16 weeks and a rank of third overall in the final NCAA Division I polls. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic cut Dayton’s season short and eliminated their chance at a championship run in March/April. For a program without FBS football, the gap in resources compared to “power five schools” is typically tremendous.
Off-the-court, the Flyers are one of the rare universities to handle multi-media rights in-house compared to the typical outsourced model. Under the leadership of Mark Gazdik, Dayton’s Assistant Athletic Director for Sales and Revenue, the Flyers set sponsorship records as well, with much thanks given to solutions partner Trak Software.
Per Gazdik, “Just coming up through athletic departments at a number of universities, including on the corporate partnerships sales and activation sides, if you’re not organized and don’t have all the correct information and timely communications, it’s very tough - especially today.”
Gazdik describes arriving at Dayton in June of 2017, at which time “We had a strong corporate program and great partners throughout the community, but what we were lacking was the organization to take things to the next level. There was a lot of managing the portfolio and not enough selling and growing. We had spreadsheet after spreadsheet for every little piece, and weren’t collecting nearly as many assets as we should have been, with partners not taking advantage of the opportunity to swap out artwork regularly. Most of our partners had gotten to a point of continuing to use what they did the previous year versus sending new assets and signage. In addition, not all communications were being tracked and we didn’t have a good sense of everything that what was truly going on. I knew we had to change, and we had to do it pretty quickly.”
“It started with simplifying what we were doing and trying to find solutions to help us maximize our time and better workflows,” Gazdik said. “we were able to find a solution in Trak to help us manage our portfolio and not spend as much time on the tedious parts of activation, plugging things into a calendar, and tracking of assets and communications with partners.”
“Every little piece of the Trak Software platform has been great for us as we continue to streamline and spend more time out driving revenue and do what we are here to do for our student athletes; provide them a good education and the tools to be successful on the field or court, rowing for their respective sports and university as a whole,” said Gazdik.
When speaking to the Flyers’ competitive advantage off the court, Gazdik said, “It’s a tough market but we’re in such a unique position in Dayton that having Trak and not spending so much time on the administrative side allows us to build and strengthen relationships. That’s what we view as our competitive advantage . Other properties, regionally and throughout the state, have to spend a lot more time, comparatively, managing the day-to-day portfolio and that’s how our partnerships are able to sustain themselves. We only have a few partners that drop their partnerships with us; our retention rate is very high. Relationship and community-based competitive advantages for us is what Trak has allowed us to drive and maximize.”
“Being able to have all of our partners’ information and assets with us at all times, even before pandemic, with Trak’s mobile site enables us to pull up information on our phones as needed is key. Trak’s mobility and web-based solution is exceptional. You don’t get that with a lot of software nowadays where you have to be logged on to a desktop or network. At home or at a soccer game when I run into a partner who has a question, I can check in on all of our partnerships to quickly find answers.”
Because of Gazdik’s abilities to streamline the chaos, handle long-term contracts and relationships and manage from anywhere, the Flyers are in position to continue to break records despite the threat of the pandemic and despite traditionally being very hospitality-oriented. In fact, part of contingency planning has been Gazdik and his team creating new assets and inventory to queue into Trak so changes can be made and communicated instantaneously.
Gazdik believes all sponsorship marketers can better equip themselves for the future of account and marketing management with Trak.