Biffle Task Force/Selling the hobby/Portion control
- When we think about making our rehearsals more appealing to new customers,
we often limit our discussions to the content of the rehearsal. Rehearsal
format and content is, of course, crucially important for maintaining and
hopefully growing our membership. You won't get an argument from me on that
one. But I would suggest that the content of the rehearsal may by
irrelevant to a potential customer if you can't get them to sample the
product in the first place.
What are the things that keep people from visiting or "sampling" a
rehearsal? There are probably dozens of answers to that question. I would
venture a guess that at the top of that list for many men would be "time".
They already have busy schedules. They have work commitments. They have
family commitments. They have to get up early to get to work. They have to
get home to see the kids. The list is probably endless. There just aren't
enough hours in the day.
For most potential customers, you can talk till you are blue in the face
about the music and the camaraderie of our hobby and you may not be able to
get past the "not enough hours in the day" barriers. It's irrelevant to
these men that you sing polecats at every rehearsal (What's a polecat").
It's irrelevant that you woodshed (What's woodshedding?) It's irrelevant
that you take time out of each rehearsal for games and quartetting or this
or that. When they are told that your groups meet every week for 2-3 hours
or more, you are often sunk. (You've just pushed their "DON'T BUY" button!)
One of the Chapters I'm involved in has made some changes in the last few
years to address just this "time" problem. For as long as I've been a
member, The Dubuque, Iowa Chapter had always rehearsed for an often
mind-numbing 2.5 hours with our rehearsal ending at 10PM or later. In late
2007, in an effort to make our rehearsals more attractive to time conscious
singers and to make it easier for young men and out-of-towners to attend, we
shortened our rehearsals by 45 minutes and now sing our final chords at
9:15. By doing so, we have made our product more accessible to singers who
don't have time to devote an entire night to our hobby. They can get their
harmony fix and still get home at a reasonable hour! (This was a HUGE plus
for the parents of the young singers!) As a direct result, we've added 5
new singers, ranging in age from 14 to 24 years old, 2 of which live more
than 30 miles away, 1 of which lives more than 60 miles away! These are
guys that wouldn't have even visited us if we hadn't made the switch to a
shorter rehearsal. (The added benefit of having shorter rehearsals is that
it has forced us to streamline our rehearsals, to be more goal oriented, and
to generally pack more value into less time. Good for existing
members-Great for new members!) Yes, some of our existing members grumbled
about the shorter rehearsal, but they got over it when we had an influx of
new, young singers because of it!
The Dubuque Chapter and Linn County Metro Chapter, of which I'm also
involved, have also enacted another program which appeals to busy people.
Our "Family First" program removes all mandatory and implied member
attendance expectations and instead emphasizes "preparedness expectations".
Simply put, our members are encouraged to take care of all of life's issues,
good or bad, and not worry if they can't make a rehearsal or two. Want to
go to your kid's soccer game on rehearsal night? Go for it! We'll be here
next week. Do you have a project at work that requires your utmost
attention for several months each year? Take care of it. We'll see you
when we see you. Our simple expectation for our singers is that they are
prepared for our performances. Not on how many hours they rehearsed with
us. We put the responsibility to be show ready firmly on our members
themselves. If they can meet the standard we set for performance by only
attending rehearsals for a month of two before a show or contest, they are
welcome to do so. The Linn County Metro Chapter, which in 2007 was one of
our Districts fastest growing Chapters, couldn't exist without this
family-first policy. Most of our guys are dual members and quartet singers
and have lots of irons in the fire. They just don't have a lot of time to
devote to Linn County Metro. (And that's OK!) But, even with this very
liberal attendance policy and scant few rehearsals, Linn County Metro gets
the job done and done quite well: In our first two contest appearances since
we formed, our overall score was 73.3% and 73.5% with only 7-8 rehearsals.
(We were thrilled!) Proving that it's not always about the amount of time
you spend, it's about making the time count.
In the packaged food industry, in which I work in Sales, one of the biggest
growth segments is "portion control". It's amazing to me that people will
pay a premium price simply to get the food they want in individual serving
packages. People won't pay $3 for a 20 oz. bag of cookies but they will pay
$3.00 for a 12 oz. box of cookies when they are divided up in 100 calorie
increments. This packaging helps the consumer be more responsible. It meets
their desire for diets and health.
It's my contention that with Barbershop Harmony, "portion control" would be
a good thing too! Less is more. People don't have unlimited time to give.
Stop asking for it!
Be a salesman!
PS: I used the word "rehearsals" in this post instead of "Harmony Night"
simply because the language is less clumsy to write. Personally, I prefer
"Harmony Nights" to rehearsals.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- --- In email@example.com, "John Donehower" <donehower3@...> wrote:
> in an effort to make our rehearsals more attractive to timeThis is a great idea! Another plus is that it gives those whose
> conscious singers and to make it easier for young men and out-of-
> towners to attend, we shortened our rehearsals by 45 minutes and
> now sing our final chords at 9:15. By doing so, we have made our
> product more accessible to singers who don't have time to devote an
> entire night to our hobby. They can get their harmony fix and
> still get home at a reasonable hour!
schedules are a bit more flexible an extra 45 minutes of post-meeting
Tenor, Rollstone Sound