Hard work and dedication to a cause, be it a for profit endeavor or a charitable one is always worth the effort. I don’t think it’s the result of the event that measures the success, but the effort put in to making it a success that should be measured.
When we listened to the radio the other day and heard Dan Fogelberg sing Same Old Lang Syne, I commented on the line, “the audience is heavenly, but the traveling is hell.” I was focused on the traveling part of the line, I should have been thinking about the audience.
We put on events all over the country, some days we can measure success by the spectator gate, other days the world stacks against us and the weather is lousy, cold, rainy, hot, it doesn’t matter what, if it’s not what your spectators expect, it equates to a lower turnout. And while measuring the number may equate to financial success or failure, that isn’t the true measure of what we do.
We have a number of stakeholders in our events, people that deserve the best event we can put on, regardless of any outside factors.
We have our competitors. These people have put their heart and soul in to the event and come with the expectation to win every time. Only one of them does, but the effort expended to travel and prep, to participate is put forth by all of them. They deserve respect, attention and fair play each and every time.
We have our property owners. These are our partners, the ones that have committed to using their facilities, partnering with us to ensure a good event. They work tirelessly with their friends and family to make sure that all is ready. Sometimes that is marking a course, other times it is advertising, in every occasion, it is a very long weekend for everyone. They deserve our best effort in bringing in teams, media and recognition. Sometimes the only pay is a slap on the back for a job well done.
We have our volunteers. These are the backbone of what we do, they come out and work hard often for just a t-shirt, free admission and a thank you. They judge, they clean-up, they set-up and organize. Sometimes the load is light, most often it is heavy. They carry the burden of a great event just as heavily as we do. They deserve our un-dying respect and thanks.
We have our sponsors. These are the folks who believe in us when no one else does, they throw money or product our way to help keep us moving from place to place. We don’t make money on our sponsors, nor should we, their dollars are designed to help keep us mobile, to make sure that the event happens. It helps to pay for fuel and insurance, repairs and trophies. They deserve attention, marketing opportunities and media play. They deserve our best face forward to the public and the industry at all times. They trust us to represent them.
We have our spectators. These are the folks that brave the weather, the roads, the competition for their entertainment dollars to spend the day with us. They expect a good time, good competition, some pageantry and the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves. On Monday morning when they go back to work, we want them telling everyone what they did over the weekend and what a great time they had. They deserve our best event, whether their neighbors come out or not.
Back in the day, I used to shoot production fireworks shows, the best pay we ever got was the roar of the crowd. Not much has changed, our best pay is the smile of the spectators, the thank you email from the sponsor, the holler from the front gate that says “Hey, we’ll see you next year!” – whether from the competitors or spectators, we’ll take it. That’s how we measure success.