Working with Potential CustomersAnytime you are riding, chilling or even traveling, you’ll run into people that are interested in the company you ride for. For the most part, the important thing is to be honest with people and to answer their questions straight up. Give them recommendations that are genuine. If a setup they’re asking about isn’t what they need, point them in the right direction. Let them try your board out, if you got a couple boards in your quiver you might even want to lend one out.
Try hard not to sound like a used car salesman! Be genuine, honest and maybe even humble about your position and your sponsor. It helps to carry a few stickers and maybe even a catalog or two, so you can pass them out when people are interested.
Another good idea is getting a few hundred business cards run up with your name and contact info, so if a person seems interested in getting a deck, or just has questions, they can hit you up personally. In this business, the best advertising is word of mouth and nothing represents that more than a rider happy to help.
Working with Shops / Shop VisitsShop visits and just checking out shops is another way to keep the public and the vendors that sell your sponsors gear happy. Find stores in your area that carry your decks and show up with a few shirts, bag of stickers and a few catalogs. The kids that work in skate shops generally love that they do regardless of awareness of skateboarding tech. So, show up, stoke them out, and maybe meet a few customers. If the owner is cool with it, you can order some pizzas for the crew and just hang out. If the shop is a good distance from where you live or you are traveling and checking out shops, try calling ahead to find out when would be best to visit. If your company has some new hotness dropping, take it with you and show them what you are up to.
If you’re visiting a shop that doesn’t carry your stuff, make sure you call ahead and find out when the manager will be in. As helpful as it is to stoke out the workers, it’s the manager and the skateboard buyer who have the last call on getting your company’s gear in their shops. Bring swag, stickers, shirts and a few boards to show them. If the guys seem very sure they want to carry the boards make sure you get a shop package sent to them from you’re reps and maybe find a way to hook them up with a board. If the shop owners are more "thanks but no thanks", don’t take it personal. Keep visiting just as you were persistent to get sponsored use that same technique for shops.
Working with the CopsThe following should be just a basic when understanding of how to deal with authority for any skater, but it takes a greater level of importance you ride for a company. You are now no longer just a representative of all skaters everywhere, you represent your sponsor.
When you are approached by cops the first thing you should do is put your board down, take off your helmet and hold it in your arms. If the cop is making motions to walk towards you, stay put and wait for him to come to you. If he is in a car or is yelling for you to come to him, do so. Only approach him with one person. The others should hang back: it’s easier to deal with authority and the last thing you need is one of your groms getting mouthy out of turn. Then you get an angry cop, a blown spot, and ya gotta lay out a beating.
If the cop is just chill and checking you out, which they sometimes do, just talk to them like a human. Don’t be on the offensive but don’t supplicate yourself to him. Just tell him what you guys are up to and point out that you guys are riding with protection, not destroying property and being careful. Usually this bores the cop into walking away. Before he leaves, make a point to call him by name, "Officer ____", and shake his hand. At this point, introduce yourself and let him know who you ride for and that you appreciate his service. You never know when this cop will get called on you again. If he does he will be "Officer Chill" the second he recognizes you.
If the cop is a full 100% on the Clinical Anger Scale, do not engage. Don’t cross your arms or put your hands on your hips. The second you see the aggressive cop, be prepared to go for your ID if it is on you, If it’s not on you, tell him where you are getting it from before you reach for it (in your car, backpack). Don’t go for it till he asks. He’s nervous and could easily misunderstand the movement. Keep your body neutral, with a non-aggressive stance. Do not argue with the officer as to what you are doing wrong! This is never an argument you win. Point out what you are doing correct, not impeding traffic or pedestrians, using safety gear and not damaging private property. This SHOULD calm him down at least one degree. If at this point it's a simple get lost, then do it! Pack up and go. Next time you see this cop, he will remember you didn’t challenge him and may be more lenient. If the cop has taken ID’s, everyone whose ID was taken should stand in place with hands out of pockets. If the cop seems cool with it, engage in small talk but to not deride or revile authority. It's not cute, rebellious or unique: the cops hear it all day long. When you get your ID’s back, the cop will give you a final warning discussion, usually pointing out what not to do next time. If the cop tells you that you cannot skate there, then ask in a very genuine manner where you can skate. He may have some suggestions, and he may not. After everyone gets their ID back, make sure to thank the officer for his time. Even if he just screamed at you for what you think is no reason for 45 minutes, thank him. Their job is hard and they might just Taser you if you give them an excuse.
The reason I added this section is that it gives the sponsored skater a chance to do something not many can... (Continue on page 2)