Money, Money, Money
Collecting money – the bane of all Commissioners. But it doesn't have to be that bad. Here are a few tips to help make this arduous task a little easier.
The first tip is to use a “safe” service to collect money rather than using payment services like PayPal, Venmo, and others. The first red flag is that those services are starting to get wise to the fantasy game and won't be as “free” as you want them to be. More importantly, though, they aren't transparent to the whole league and put you, the Commissioner, in a position where your integrity can be questioned. Managers feel better about knowing who has paid, how much is in the pot, and how that pot will be distributed at the end of the season.
I can already hear the objections, though – “safe” services cost money, and they do. After all, they are a business in their own right and deserve to charge a fee for their services. But that fee isn't terribly expensive – generally in the 4-8% range, depending on whether you have to pay processing fee both to put money in and take money out. So on a $100 buy-in, we're talking $4-8. And, if you already have managers pay to use your chosen platform, you're in a good position to identify “buy-in” fees and “administrative” fees as part of the positioning of your league.
So what are some “safe” services to consider? Here is a starter list for you:
The last one makes the most sense if you're using Fantrax as your platform, and Fantrax advertises absolutely no fees on their platform, so that's a huge win, but Treasurer requires you to use Fantrax, which you may not want to do. If you use another platform, the first two are solid options, but you will pay some processing fees.
When you set your deadlines will be at least partially influenced by what type of league you run. Here are a few recommendations:
- Redraft – Set your deadline a few weeks before the league draft versus a few days. The latter makes it harder to deal with the unexpected and puts your draft date at risk.
- Keeper – Set your deadline sometime in the early-to-mid Summer, assuming you don't do a separate Rookie Draft. You need a little more time to pivot than a Redraft league does because Keeper leagues are a little more complicated when onboarding a brand new manager.
- Dynasty – Set your deadline sometime in the March timeframe, even if your Rookie Draft isn't in the May timeframe. Adding new Dynasty managers generates a much greater ripple effect within your league compared to other league types and you want time to plan this out and keep your existing managers comfortable.
Make sure the deadline date and payment instructions are communicated well in advance of the deadline. And make sure to include a time of day (with time zone if needed) as well.
You want to avoid chasing people if at all possible, as last minute scrambles are no fun for anyone. So use whatever communication platform you can to drop simple, kind reminders to people about paying their dues. Don't be harsh or mean. People are busy and fantasy football is not the most important thing in their lives. A simple, “Just a reminder that league payments are due on [date] and I still need yours when you can get to it.” Shoot for two reminders spaced apart so that you still have a few days left if they don't heed the second reminder.
If the reminders don't help and you're getting to the due date, here is where you have to remind managers that there is a penalty for not paying on time, and that penalty can vary by league type and how well you know the managers in the league. Here are some thoughts by type:
- Redraft – There's not much else you can do other than boot them from the league if they miss the deadline. You need time to find the next available person if they won't pay.
- Keeper – Depending on how many keepers you allow, you can consider decreasing the number of keepers for that manager. You can take a hard line and set the penalty at “all” keepers, or you can figure out a system where X days/weeks late decreases the number of keepers by Y.
- Dynasty – The easiest penalty is typically a rookie draft pick.
- Any – Making them pay more money that either goes to you as Commissioner or goes into a pot if you collect other non-dues fees for any reason is another option available to you.
If a manager is late, you're going to want to do everything you can to understand why they are late so you can assess the likelihood that this manager is going to eventually pony-up and remain the in the league. This typically involves a conversation where you open with something to the effect of, “Hey, you're late and so you're going to have penalty XYZ, but I need to need to know if you want to continue in this league, and I need to know that by ABC date.”
Then you need to make it clear to them that you're trying to avoid wasting everyone's time, “I want you to stay, but I get it if you want to move-on. However, I need to know where you stand so I can stop bugging you and find your replacement if you don't want to continue.”
This last tip is not for everyone and every league, but it can be a way to decrease your stress each season. Basically, you're getting people to commit for N number of years and they're paying a multiple of the buy-in up-front. For example, $100 dues on a three year buy-in means everyone pays $300 in year 1 and $0 in years 2 & 3. A few things to think about with this:
- You need to make it clear there are no refunds.
- You need a policy for where forfeited money goes.
- You need to make sure your “safe” platform can rollover money across seasons, if you use one.
- You should think about whether to have prizes that span seasons because of this extra money. More on this in another post.
Collecting money isn't fun, but if you put a little forethought into it and plan to counteract the likelihood that people aren't going to pay the first day you ask for it, then you can make this terrible chore much easier for you as a fantasy Commissioner.