The Risks of Declining Registrations

DollarThere was a recent article on Bloomberg News suggesting that the next financial crisis could start in Silicon Valley and “Fintech”. Fintech is a broad term, but touches all races who use online registration with the movement of over $1 Billion per year thru the 100 or so race registration systems. Here are some of the key thoughts from the article:

The fintech revolution has created an environment ripe for instability and disruption. It does so in three ways. First, fintech companies are more vulnerable to rapid, adverse shocks than typical Wall Street banks. Because they’re small and undiversified, they can easily go under when they hit a blip in the market. Second, fintech companies are more difficult to monitor than conventional financial firms. Third, fintech has not developed the set of unwritten norms and expectations that guide more traditional financial institutions.

Many race registrations are happening by transactions going to the race registration company, and then payments are made from that company to the race. This is risky since the company may use that cash and delay payments of the money to races to pay their own salaries and other costs.

This is not a problem when a company is growing, as most race registration companies have over the past 5 years between shifts away from legacy vendors and the general increase in the number of races and registrations. There is more money coming in the door each day, so there is plenty of money to pay past races.

However, in a shrinking market, this can be a death spiral. Fewer races and fewer registrations means less cash coming in. This leads to downsizing of staff and more delayed payments to customers, especially if the company was funding operations with the “float” of race funds (the two weeks it takes many companies to pay out).

And, we are in a shrinking market as reported in our recent Registration Market Analysis. The number of races on fell by 4%. And the number of races on all vendors (except RunSignUp) we could get a hard count for the number of races in October fell from last year (ask your registration company for accurate numbers – these are what we could find by searching public calendars):


Races should be asking their vendors for financial statements and details on how their race funds are held, in addition to race and registration growth. RunSignUp is transparent on this issue, and has made large investments in becoming a Payment Facilitator. This means each race (and charity) becomes their own merchant with their own bank account. RunSignUp can not even use your money if we wanted to! The financial statement you want to ask for is their Current Ratio – in simple terms how much money the registration company has in the bank vs. what they owe races.

There are already signs of a shrinking of the number of registration vendors. The recent announcement of RaceIt being shuttered in November took many by surprise. They will likely not be the last – the margins and economics in this business are difficult, especially when combined with the need to stay on the cutting edge of technology. We do not mean to be fear-mongers, but races need to protect themselves against getting caught in the type of credit squeeze discussed in the Bloomberg article.

RunSignUp Quick Hits…Features Even Advanced Users May Missed

Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing a host of resources from our 3rd annual RunSignUp Symposium. First up: some blog links to features you may have missed. Even our most advanced users often have a hard time keeping up with all our updates (2,000+ in 2015); RunSignUp Sales Lead Bryan Jenkins picked a few to highlight:

email-imageSearch Box Bib/Email
Need to find a participant quickly? Instead of navigating to the participant report first,
there is a search bar at the top of each page of your Dashboard.

Automated Emails
We have a few (and soon will have more) automated emails for things like incomplete registrations & RaceJoy. Turn these on to cut down on manual notifications sent to runners.

Email Reporting
Track opens, bounces, clicks, spam reports, etc. on emails that you send out from the system.

Shared Reports
Share limited participant data with other users, securely.

Custom Reports
Pick and choose the information that you want to see on a participant report, and filter out all other data.

Financial Report
You probably know that financial reports exist, but do you understand what each field means, or that you can download a detailed participant report?

Giveaway Inventory
In addition to having the ability to track the inventory on your giveaways, we have a giveaway projection tool that will help you plan how many giveaways to order based on previous orders.

Loyalty Program
Reward runners from previous years, volunteers, or any other specific group by offering early registration…matched directly on personal info, so there’s no password to be shared around.

Reserved Entries
Allow runners to register for an event that is (technically) full, without manual processing of payment and data import.

google-analyticsGoogle Analytics
View demographic information on the visitors to your site…and monitor the effectiveness of your marketing with analytic web data on your dashboard.

Custom Content Display, Menu, and Pages
Our race websites have a lot of flexibility: you can pick what items are on the main menu, which ones are sub-menu items, and the order that it all shows up.

Giveaway Reports
View your Giveaway Report by males and females.

Repeat Participant Reports
See how many (and who) of your runners from previous years have registered again…and see who has not so you can target them directly.

Misc Settings
Looking for something that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else on the dashboard? It’s probably in Misc Settings; for example, for events that are not actually races (like a Symposium!) you can customize the wording used throughout your site.

Quick Multi-Race Access/Editing
If you have multiple races, sometimes you want to switch between races on a single page. Perhaps you are adding coupon codes across multiple races and want to do that on all 4 of your races.

Bryan Jenkins

What is a Current Ratio and if I am a Race Director why should I care?

DollarThe current ratio is a liquidity ratio that measures a company’s ability to pay off its short-term liabilities with its current assets. In simple terms how much money the registration company has in the bank vs. what they owe races.

It is calculated by dividing current assets (cash and accounts or race payments receivable) on the balance sheet by current liabilities (accounts payable, accrued expenses like payroll and liability for race payments) and the rough rule of thumb is that the ratio should always be a minimum of one. Said another way, current assets should be at least as much as your current liabilities.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.18.02 AM.png

This is important to you because some registration providers collect registration proceeds into their own bank account and then make payments to races from that account. If you do business with a registration company that uses their own bank account you should be sure they have enough money to pay you for your races. A current ratio above one is a liquidity measure that may signal that the registration company will be able to meet their short-term obligations. Some registration providers use the Float in their bank account for other purposes, like funding their own expenses or to handle seasonal variability with their businesses. If the business of a registration provider is declining you could see a slow down in your payments if they need to use the float to fund their operations.

A simple example of this might be a registration company that has collected $1M of race fees each month, but holds onto that money for an extra month. They have $2M of current liabilities – money they owe races for last month and this month. If the company only has $1M of cash on hand, then their Current Ratio is 0.5. In essence, they are using race money to finance their operation. This can be OK as long as revenue remains stable, but declining revenue can catch up with this. For example if they only bring in $800K of race fees this month, they will not be able to pay the full $1M from last month. This is typically what is happening if you see delays in your payments from registration vendors (and we have heard the horror stories of not being paid by some vendors, which is why we are brining this up).

RunSignUp has qualified to become a payment facilitator and processes most of our registrations and payments through sub-merchant accounts that we maintain for our races at Vantiv or Braintree Marketplace.  With these accounts we never handle your money and those registrations proceeds never pass through our bank account or our balance sheet. We do have some races that use a legacy processing option with RunSignUp that do pass through our bank account but these represent a minority of our business and we encourage all of our races to move to a Vantiv or Braintree Marketplace account. Additionally we do not use your money to support our business and we maintain a current ratio that insures this.

Our April 2016 financials show a current ratio for RunSignUp of 1.17. This means we had enough current assets on hand to meet 117% of our current liabilities. Said another way, for every $100 we had not yet paid out to Races and Partners we had $117 in the bank.

If you are not using RunSignUp ask your current registration provider if they are processing your registration proceeds through their own bank account and balance sheet. If they are ask them for their current ratio. If the number is less than one you should have some concerns about whether or not that company is using your money to fund their business.

New Race Financial Reports

DollarWe have done a major overhaul on our Financial Reports. The Summary page now gives a quick overview with 3 tabs to drill down on:

  • Transactions – these are focused on the individual transactions that have been processed on behalf of your race.
  • Payments – These are a list of all the payments that have been made to your race with many drill down reports.
  • Payment Accounts – This is where you can get information about the account we make payment to. This is also helpful for organizations that have multiple races and allows you to see how a payment was broken between multiple races.

Financial Summary

The above screen shot shows a financial summary page for a race. In the middle, there is a button to view a Detailed Summary:

Detailed Summary

Clicking on the “Show Excel” button downloads this report:

Excel Financial Summary

If you click the Show Quantities button in the upper right corner it shows the quantities:

Detailed Financial Summary with Counts

The second major tab shows Payment Information. This will look slightly different depending on your Payment Account type and payment frequency. It shows a quick summary of how many payments for the selected period (defaults to current race period – typically this year’s race, but you can switch event dates at the top of the page). Below are a variety of ways to look at your payment information, as well as drill down on specific areas like donations:


The Summary Payment Report downloads an Excel spreadsheet that shows each payment in rows, and the various types of transactions that your race had as columns (there can be about 30 if you have a lot of options) like registrations, donations, store items, coupons, etc. To the right it shows the breakdown by event. Note the Tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet that allow you to drill down on each payment:

Summary Payment Excel

We spent a LOT of time working on the Detailed Payment Report. It first asks you to select a specific payment and then shows you all of the details of that payment. It shows a unit price, quantity and total for each type of thing your race offers, as well as anything like refund account holdbacks that affect your individual payment:

Detailed Payment Excel 1

Detailed Payment Excel 2

The Individual Payment Summary can be used if you do not have Excel or want a quicker and higher level view of the payment:

Individual Payment Summary

Note the Overall version of this is useful for organizations with multiple races on the same payment account. For example:

Multi-Race Payment Summary

The Event Summary shows a similar version of the above two reports for the race by event (5K, 10K, etc.). The Race Date Summary shows multiple years on a single page in summary fashion.

Race Payments List shows a list of Payments with quick links by each payment to the various reports above:

Race Payments List

One of the links on the right – View Race Transactions – shows the transactions that make up that payment. This works best for races using Advanced Payment since we are able to specifically match a a transaction.

Transactions in a Payment

The second section of Payment Reports drill down into specific transaction types. These are fairly self-explanatory and cover:

  • Transactions
  • Registrations
  • Donations
  • Store Items (not Add-ons – those can be seen either int he Add-on report or the detailed reports shown in the first section)
  • Corporate Team Payments
  • Refunds
  • Holdbacks
  • Adjustments

The final tab is the Payment Account information.

Payment Account

If you have multiple races, this can be a useful tab to understand payments being made for multiple races, for example:

Payment Account

Thanks to all of the races who helped feed us requirements for these changes. We hope you find them useful (because we spent a lot of time on them)!

Clarifying Daily Reports and Payment Reports

Finance UpdateA common financial question we get is that some reports don’t seem to reconcile with one another.  In particular, that some participant or transaction reports don’t reconcile with payment reports. There is a reason for this.  Payments follow a settlement calendar that is dictated by the banks and credit card processing companies.  Settlements typically cut off at 10:00 pm GMT (currently 6:00 pm EDT).  This means that transactions that happen after that time on a calendar day will be reported on that calendar day on the RSU system in participant or transaction reports but may show up on a subsequent day in a payment report because of settlement cut off times.

Said another way there are a few reports that sum up transactions but use a calendar date versus the settlement cut off date that is used for payments.  There are two reports in particular where we have noted this difference.  They are the Transaction sort by date in the Race Dashboard/Financial/Summary.  The other report where this occurs is in the Partner Dashboard under Financial/Top Races & Clubs.  If you run these reports by calendar date they will not match payments due to settlement cut off times. You will never reconcile them unless you take a period from when before processing starts and after it completes – like a few days before you accept registrations and a few days after you close (note that some races keep things like donations or stores open year round and therefore you will never stop taking transactions).

We know that reporting is important to you and it is our goal to provide accurate and timely reporting about your races.  It is also our goal to get your money to you for your races as quickly as possible. This results in two different ways of looking at the data.

Updated Financial Reports

Financial SummaryWe have done a refresh of our Financial Summary page as well as a number of the reports and spreadsheets that you can download. The result is a simpler and more consistent way to see your financial information and drill down on items you care about.

The Financial Summary page at the right has a new layout. We default to this year’s race, but you can select other years in the drop down, or you can select “Advanced Search” at the top right to select specific dates.

Next,we have moved the Payments to the top. The View Payments report has been updated (we review that below).

We have also moved the buttons for Detailed Summary and Show Summary by Race Date to the right above the Transaction summary table.

Detailed Summary ButtonDetailed Summary
This will give you an overview of the Transactions included in the race date range contained in the summary table. It is a great way to get a quick summary, and we now have links for most of the items like Coupons or Registrations that take you to the separate reports for those things directly. Here is a screenshot of a sample race:

Detailed Summary

If you download the Excel, it looks like this:

Detailed Summary

The Financial Account Number column is something that you can set up in case your race enters the details into a financial accounting system like Quickbooks. Read more here.

The smaller table on the upper right shows the amount in “Escrow”. These are essentially transactions that have not yet cleared thru the credit card networks for customers using Braintree Marketplace for payments.

Total Transactions GraphTransaction Breakdown Graphs
We also include an easy link on the Financial Summary page under the Transaction breakdown summary table. It provides a view by year of transaction volume as well as a Participant Count by month graph as shown below:

Year over Year Transaction Graph

Participant Year over Year by Month

Payments Report
The Payments report contains several new drill down reports. Note that it will appear slightly differently depending on your payment system – Manual, Braintree Direct, and Vantiv PayFac. Some are able to show specific transaction date ranges, but Braintree is not able to provide us with that information for example:

Payment Report

The PaymentID on the left column will show the specific payment. Some payment accounts have multiple races, so clicking on that link will show this report in this case with 2 races with their names hidden (again slightly differently depending on your Payment Account Type):

Payment Overview

The second link on the right of the main Payment Report “Race Payment Summary” shows the details for a specific payment for a specific race:

Race Payment Details

The View Race Transactions produces a list of all of the transactions included in the report:

Transactions within a Payment

You can also see the detailed transaction account balance by downloading the CSV of the transactions:

Transaction Journal

In summary, the new Financial System work we have been doing over the past several months has resulted in us being able to track and report in a much cleaner fashion for our customers.

New Summary Details Financial Report

Detailed SummaryYou may have noticed a new button on the Financial Summary page on your dashboard (we will be redesigning that page soon to consolidate all the reporting options). It is labeled “View Detailed Summary”.

The report below shows an example of a race with many different options like registration, coupons, store items, add-ons, donations, etc. This gives you a simple way to see each of those line items over any date range:

Detailed Financial Summary