Owners Rep Blog

Innovation Panel Meeting 1

Innovation Panel meeting 1
24th July 2017
Venue: Towcester Racecourse

Paul Ephremsen
Dave Lawrence
Kevin Perisi
Floyd Amphlett
Kevin Ackerman
Paul Millward
Peter Harnden

Steve Fluin
Diane McLean

Purpose of the Innovation Panel
• Focus on initiatives that will benefit owners in the short term and long term
• Reach clear consensus and recommend ideas to be taken to the sub committees and the main board (as appropriate)
• The opinions in this note are those held by the Innovation Panel set up to represent owners. They are not yet the opinions of the GBGB Board.
Owners survey
• This first meeting used feedback and ideas from a recent owners survey (44 responses plus 4 detailed email responses) as stimulus for debate within each topic area. We feel the following recommendations represent the best of, and the most common ideas thrown up by greyhound owners.
A. Setting the objectives for the Owners Representative role
B. How do we create an efficient national network for owners?
C. Welfare recommendations
D. Recommendations to grow ownership numbers
E. Recommendations to improve the ownership experience

• We have established objectives for the Owners Rep role aimed at improving prize money, welfare, communications and how owners are treated. As well as growing owner numbers and ensuring all owners have a voice.
• Kevin Perisi will spearhead a regional owners network and improved communications to and from owners
• New investment aimed at covering all costs to owners associated with bad track injuries
• Ramp up a professional PR plan relating to welfare issues and interest on re-homing
• Absolute focus on track surface standards
• Training scheme for trainers and new entrants into the sport
• All tracks to agree to a template of on-site promotion of ownership
• New Commercial & Marketing Department at GBGB
• Test a centralised Syndicate Scheme with roll-out for 1000 new syndicates
• Minimum levels of prize money levels for televised and streamed races
• All tracks to adopt an Owner VIP scheme
• Re-distribute the £2.1m currently given to prize money in a more impactful prize money solution

The detail:
A. Objectives of the Owners Representative role

1. Over time deliver guaranteed minimum levels of win and run money for televised races

2. Demonstrate improvements in welfare initiatives that are adopted nationally

3. Grow ownership numbers, syndicate numbers and owner/trainer numbers (we cannot specify a growth target without knowing what budget is available to achieve this)

a. There are currently 5664 owners
b. There are currently 1094 syndicates
c. There are currently 186 owner/trainer licence holders

4. Develop an effective national network of owner representation

5. Develop a nationwide charter that improves the status of owners at tracks with many new benefits of being an owner at all tracks

6. Improve communication between GBGB and owners with guaranteed levels of monthly coverage

B. How do we create an efficient national network for owners?

• Kevin Perisi will head this project (National Owner Network Rep)
• Kevin will select a group of 4-8 Regional Owner Reps (over time) that he feels can represent the interests of greyhound owners on a regional basis. He will meet owners face to face who are keen / experienced / knowledgeable / are able to communicate well / have a regular presence at the tracks in their area and make his recommendations on his team.
• Kevin will meet the Regional Reps face to face periodically, as well as having regular contact on phone and email
• We will test out a closed Facebook page for owners which Kevin and the Regional Reps will manage
• We will develop a communication plan so that Kevin can communicate all topics to owners via social media, GBGB website, Greyhound Star, Racing Post, RPGTV.
• We will produce a newsletter for owners every month via email
• Kevin and Paul E will agree topics and issues (based on owner needs) that Paul needs to present to the board / sub committees on an on-going basis

C. Welfare recommendations

Some the following recommendations would require additional funding. It is our firm belief that in order to secure more funding we need to clearly demonstrate the exciting new initiatives that would be put in place if more funds were available, and that such initiatives have huge benefits to all industry stakeholders. An obsession for welfare progress, and building a sound reputation and positive public perception are the necessary building blocks if we all want the sport to flourish in the future in this modern day society.

• The first priority for any new funding is to develop an industry wide voucher scheme so that any veterinary care associated with a ‘significant’ (to be defined) injury occurring at a track is paid for by the scheme and no owner has to bear the cost (try to replicate the example set by Yarmouth as a benchmark but this would be funded by the industry not the promoter)
• The second priority for new income should be investing in a PR agency to develop a long term national PR campaign to promote the many good welfare initiatives that exist and promote what great pets greyhounds make. Creating greater demand from the public will reduce rehoming lists. Highlight the good work already being undertaken to address welfare problems.
• The third priority for any future new funding / grants to tracks is air conditioning in kennel areas
• The fourth priority for new funding is to subsidise trainers to keep retired dogs until a home is found (sliding scale over time) - potentially alleviating pressure on the RGT and other charities
• Develop a training scheme for all new trainers / kennel hands and owner/trainers primarily aimed at injury prevention, but with many modules. Use leading trainers and vets to create the content (online / video / classroom subject to funding) Open the training up to existing greyhound trainers and staff also. Consider real accreditation.
• Euthanasia for economic reasons NOT to be an option on the green form
• Tracks to add an additional kennelling slot mid-way though the race card
• Independent track specialist to monitor track surfaces – raise the level of scrutiny of track surfaces and monitor injury stats closely with quarterly reporting to the board on effectiveness (transparency is important here)
• GBGB to re-iterate their stance on exporting dogs to countries deemed unsuitable on welfare grounds. GBGB to produce a contract for owners to use when sending dogs to stud keepers in Ireland to prevent the subsequent export of that dog by the stud keeper
• Investigate a more cost effective solution for veterinary services / create an approved supplier list with centrally negotiated fees
• Produce career ending injury stats on a track by track basis for ultimate transparency.

D. Recommendations to grow ownership numbers

Quick fixes to grow owners – we need buy-in from the RCPA (Promoters Association) to implement the following at all tracks
• ‘How to become an owner’ guide in all racecards and all track websites
• Regular PA announcements at tracks encouraging new owners
• Each track to have a YouTube channel showcasing all previous races
• Kids Race with associated photos / social media / presentations on Friday / Saturday evenings at every track
• Trainers and kennel hands to wear badges so prospective owners can identify them and talk about ownership
• Welfare messages in racecards and track posters at all tracks to appeal to potential owners
• Tracks to target attendees after their visit with communications regarding ownership (email and / or text)
• GBGB to create a social media marketing template / tools for tracks to use to attract new owners (a ‘how to’ guide to get the best out of social media channels)
• GBGB website to revamp the communications regarding ownership – it needs to look exciting, we need to sell the dream, use video content
• Tracks to focus on celebrity involvement and the social media benefits this can bring

Longer term recommendations to grow owners

Some of these recommendations will require funding, and some of that may be significant. Again, we firmly believe that in order to address some of the biggest challenges that the industry faces, these recommendations are critical to raise the profile and credibility of the sport and grow interest in the sport and ultimately grow owner numbers.
• Test a centralised Syndicate Scheme aimed at finding 80 new syndicates, with the long term aim of generating 1000 new syndicates (2 year time frame) Trial the scheme at 2 tracks (40 per track). Target potential syndicates in pubs / sporting clubs / offices within 15 miles of each track.
• Set up a new Commercial & Marketing department at GBGB. Full time team as well as out-sourcing to specialist agencies (PR and Social media and sponsorship specifically) Responsibility of the department to include:
o Review the greyhound racing brand and create a new brand vision / marketing strategy for the whole industry
o Manage the syndicate scheme
o Promote the benefits of greyhound ownership (individual and syndicates)
o Manage the PR for the industry
▪ Welfare
▪ Homing
▪ Promoting racing and innovative betting new products
▪ Attracting new owners
o Social media strategy and content creation
o Local track marketing templates / collateral (assistance)
o Sponsorship & implementation of marketing campaigns
o Ensure the sport has appropriate TV deals
• Achieve new minimum levels of prize money for televised / streamed races which are consistent across all tracks:
o Sky (£1k per race total prize money)
o Bookmaker shop races (£500 per race total prize money)
o RPGTV (£300 per race total prize money)
o Streamed races (£300 per race total prize money)
• Work with the betting industry to create innovative new betting products and jackpots with generalist appeal

E. Recommendations to improve the ownership experience

Fundamentally, and almost without exception, greyhound owners seem to feel under-valued by track promoters and by bookmakers. There is a huge opportunity for all track promoters to make owners feel like VIP’s by appointing an owner VIP scheme with benefits such as:

• Owner card entitling owners free entrance to ALL tracks
• Creation of an owners area at all tracks (where practical with space)
• Discounted food and drinks at all tracks
• 1 race each night with the winning owners receiving a 2 seats in the restaurant
• All tracks to interview owners before and after racing (busy nights only)
• Owner badges with differing levels of status (longevity / number of dogs etc)
• Make more of the owner names in programmes using first names too
• Reserved seating / parking for owners
• More photos / trophy races
• Hall of fame at each track to showcase owners and the best local graded champions
• Owners events – golf days / other activities that drive the local owner community

In addition we recommend some other quick fixes:

• Create a communications plan specifically for owners
o Contract with Greyhound Star for a minimum level of GBGB communications articles per month (owners rep / trainer rep / welfare / regulation / GBGB staff interviews etc) All of this content is also shared on social media platforms (over time a revamped GBGB website could perform this function but that is not realistic in the short term)
o RPGTV appearance schedule for board members
o Monthly newsletter (from Kevin Perisi and Paul Ephremsen combined)
o Owner secure Facebook page as mentioned previously
• Develop an electronic registration / transfer of ownership solution
• Appeal system for ‘awkward’ dogs and all tracks to have head on cameras
• GBGB to assist with standardised contracts between owners and trainers
• Explore a Fantasy League tie up with a national newspaper (Racing Post) to run na season long competition with huge prizes
• All tracks to install a timing mechanism display in the in-field

Longer term recommendations to improve the ownership experience
• Standard levels of prize money for televised races (as mentioned already)
• Re-distribute the current £2.1m of prize money support into more impactful prize money solutions (currently the £2.1m is watered down so thinly it only equates to £5 per race which we believe is an ineffective use of this money)
o We recommend using the same pot of money (approximately £7k per track per month) to have nightly bonus races at 7 meetings a month at each track. Maybe 2 x £500 on some nights and 1 x £1k on other nights. Spin the wheel before racing to see which race is the bonus race(s) and if the owners are at the track then they qualify for 100% of the bonus, if they aren’t then maybe only 50%.
o This format creates excitement, gives all graded owners the chance of winning big, ensures more owners arrive at tracks pre-racing, and is generally a more impactful way to spend the money
o As an extension to this idea we could consider third party tie ins so rather than win cash sometimes winning owners may win trips away / other experiences which again create a buzz and excitement
• Re-develop the GBGB website to be a consumer facing site to fully engage all stakeholders including owners
• A future recommendation (once the current media rights issues are clearer) is to work on more interesting race formats / Champions Series / more high profile invitation races / match races and all ideas aimed at increasing talk-ability and excitement around the races themselves