There is No Offseason for… Billy Friess
For my next installment of “There is No Offseason for…” I chose to interview Billy Friess, Director of Season Ticket Sales. In 2010, Billy will be entering his 12th Season with the Club and I don’t think he’s had an off day, much less an offseason. This guy has tremendous work ethic and a great dedication to his job.
And given his background, it’s no surprise that Billy has a strong passion for his work.
“I grew up with baseball as a huge part of my life and I’m so fortunate to call baseball my job,” Billy said yesterday, when we sat down to discuss what his calendar looks like from October through March.
Billy’s father, Jack Friess, has been coaching baseball at Cedarburg High School for over 30 years. Jack is a Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer and even once played in the White Sox organization.
Billy was coached by his own father at Cedarburg High School and went on to play shortstop at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where, after some coaxing, he admitted that he’s still 10th all-time in hits.
Billy majored in Sport and Recreation Management at Marian and started his career in the minors with an internship with the Milwaukee Brewers’ now-Single-A affiliate, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. From there, he went on to start out with the Brewers as a Telephone Service Representative (TSR) in the fall of 1998.
“I started out as a TSR in the basement of County Stadium with a computer, keyboard and phone in a 24″ x 36″ cubicle. The first calls I made were to 1994 – the strike year – canceled accounts,” Billy recalls fondly.
Billy continued his climb through the ranks. Shortly after the 1999 Season, Billy was promoted to Account Executive and then, with the move to Miller Park in 2001, he became a Senior Account Executive. Then, in 2003, he became the Manager of Season Ticket Sales before being promoted to Director of Season Ticket Sales in 2007, the position he holds today.
As Director, Billy oversees ten Account Executives and six TSRs.
“My job is to give our ten Account Executives and six TSR’s all the tools they need to be put in a position to succeed each and every sales campaign,” Billy explained.
In keeping with our “no offseason” theme, Billy said the busiest time for his staff is August through Opening Day.
Marketing, Ticket Operations and Ticket Sales all fall under the Consumer Marketing umbrella here at the Club. This means that I am fortunate to get to work with Billy on many of his offseason projects, such as Season Seat Holder renewal packets and the advertising campaigns for his small plans, like our Holiday 4-Packs and our 9-Packs.
“In June and July we start gearing up for our selling season, putting together as attractive a renewal package as possible for our customers from a benefits end. We always try to incorporate something special as an incentive to get people to renew early.”
This year, every Season Seat Holder (SSH) who paid in full by November 20 has the option to receive a commemorative 40th Anniversary poster-size Milwaukee Brewers print and for the Full SSH’s who renewed by the deadline, there will be a special meet-and-greet with Robin Yount next summer, where he’ll personally sign those prints.
Over the years, Billy has rewarded renewal customers with various renewal benefits such as the opportunity to take batting practice at Miller Park, the opportunity to throw out the First Pitch, private autograph sessions with current players including Ryan Braun, recognition as the “Season Seat Holder of the Game” and more.
After the renewal process is well underway, Billy works with the fine folks in the Marketing Department ( :) ) to launch our Holiday 4-Pack campaign. The Holiday 4-Packs start at just $60 and include a ticket to four great games, including an all-fan giveaway game. Plus, for every pair of 4-Packs one buys within the same plan, he or she will score a free Klement’s Famous Racing Polish Sausage ornament. There are five exciting plans to choose from and for the past four years, 4-Packs have been popular holiday gifts for Brewers fans.
Did you ever wonder who came up with your 4-Pack “Matinee Plan” or “Weekend Plus Plan”? That’s Billy Friess. Billy works with his department to carefully determine which games will be included in each different plan type.
“We try to create different types of packages to appeal to the masses,” Billy said.
The 4-Packs and the 9-Packs (which will go on sale in January 2010) are smaller introductory packages, so while there are some benefits, it’s not until you move up to the 20, 40 and Full Season plans that the benefits really increase.
Most 20, 40, and Full Season SSH’s enjoy benefits such as a significant savings off the standard gate rate, flexible ticket exchange options, the opportunity to purchase individual game tickets before they go on sale to the general public, priority seating for the Postseason, a complimentary Metavante Club Membership, savings on Preferred Parking and Suite rentals and more. There are also special events for Season Seat Holders throughout the year.
In addition to making sure that SSH’s are taken care of with these cushy benefits, Billy also tries to create new Season Ticket offerings.
“This is a very value-conscious market, so we try to create offerings like the Terrace Ticket Treat and the Loge Level Double Play,” Billy said, referring to two popular SSH deals. The Terrace Ticket Treat is four seats in the Terrace Reserved section for every Brewers home game. The price breaks down to just $6 per ticket, making it a winner with families. New for 2010, the Loge Level Double Play is also a great deal and sure to be just as popular. Essentially, it’s a buy-one-get-one free Loge Level Season ticket package that applies to Sections 210 and 227.
“We also aren’t afraid to try new things like offering Opening Day for Free with our 9-Packs. Anything with value is going to appeal. We try to think out of the box, stay fresh and not just give a carbon copy of what we did the previous year,” Billy said.
Starting at just $135, Brewers 9-Packs include nine great games, plus the home opener on April 5 vs. the Colorado Rockies-for FREE. Other benefits of the 9-Packs include regular pricing on Marquee games, a guaranteed seat location and more, making them uber-popular among fans.
“The 9-Packs with Opening Day for Free are probably my favorite plan that we offer. The packages that are the most marketable are the ones that I like the best. The Fan’s Choice Plan, where you pick the 20 games you want, is also an easier sell and meets the needs of a lot more people; plans with lots of value and flexibility, those things are what I like the best,” Billy said.
Billy’s such a good salesman, he’s even sold himself.
“Billy, if you weren’t working here, would you buy Season Tickets?” I asked.
Without missing a beat, Billy answered, “Absolutely!”
He even had his seats picked out. “I’d probably buy a Fan’s Choice 20-Game Plan in the Terrace Box.”
Besides selling tickets, Billy says he also likes to spend the offseason focusing on coaching his staff by listening to their phone calls and providing feedback and also, through providing an intense sales training program.
“At the end of October, we kick off our campaign with sales training. We bring in a local trainer who does a great job of customizing his training to fit our needs, identifying what our challenges are going to be and helping us to overcome any objections that we might get this upcoming season,” Billy said.
In addition to the week of training, Billy’s staff stays on top of their game with weekly learning tracks filled with ideas, sales techniques and the like.
All of the training has certainly paid off as Billy led his staff to achieve a franchise-record season ticket base in 2009.
“I truly believe we have the best sales staff in all of baseball – a very dedicated staff that works well as a team and genuinely cares about our department and organization,” Billy said.
As we were wrapping up, Billy’s phone rang and his attention immediately turned to the person on the other line.
I backed slowly out of his office, leaving him to finish his call with another satisfied customer, no doubt.
For more information on Brewers Season Ticket Packages, please call (414) 902-4100, or click here.
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