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Anders 2 pleas (via his messaging during the event) for workers got me thinking. What percentage of needed workers do you normally (if there is such a thing) require to sign up before the event, as opposed to walk ons, to know that you are sufficiently covered for all stages? I sure hate to see stages cancelled because of a lack of workers. But it seems like many events are scrambling at the last minute.
 
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To know that I am sufficiently covered I need 100% of my minimum required set of workers.

We always try to have more, but you can marshal a location with one worker, run a finish control with one timer and one recorder / radio operator, etc.

For an established event you have some idea of how many walk-in workers to expect; for a newer event you can never tell.
 

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The more that can sign up beforehand, the better, so you can get accurate counts for tshirts, food, etc. We've had good luck with online sign ups at 100AW as the number has gone up every year. I always have a minumum amount in mind when setting up control crews. As Peter said, you can get by with a skeleon crew, but more is always better.

The key is recruiting them early and often and keeping sign ups and potential workers informed about where/when/what, etc.
We ended up with so many walk ups this year that we ran out of shirts and pins. Will probably consider a cut-off date of online sign ups for '11 since I don't get the ones who wait til the last couple days. Also am thinking about some kind of bonus swag for online sign ups to try to minimize walk ups.
 

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It is a tricky business

- you have sign-ups who don't show up
- you have sign ups that come to registration but never make their assigned position
- you have walk ups...


It seems the percentages vary with every rally.

Couple methods for distributing goodies
- order the number you need to run the rally
- order for those that signed up
- add extra to the either of the above if you can afford it

We have never had too many workers at S*D, although we would not run a stage if it did not have the minimum staff, there are plenty of places we would like more staff

Having been on the other end of the worker scramble, all you can do is have a plan for what you will do if you don't have enough workers. I always have a plan for what stages I will give up first to see that the rest are well staffed and well run. These are not easy choices for the organizers, but thinking not only about the plan, but the multiple back-up plans helps keep the event moving as smoothly as possible.

If there is one thing I think could be done better on an ongoing basis it would be staffing. Many events have enough people, but I have been to very few events that have a seamless registration, assignments, worker info, directions, meetings, etc. Part of this is the right level of info for the drastically different levels of experience, another part is trying to distill a great amount of information down into usable "bullets" or "bytes" of information.

Anyhow - staffing events is the biggest challenge to a smoothly run event and there are no easy fixes, so we all keep learning.
 

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NASA Rally Sport grassroots!!!
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It's amazingly dynamic, as far as who signs up when, shows up when, who can volunteer for how long, how reliable they are... and what you finally end up with the morning of the event.

The NASA Rally Sport database for volunteers is finally in its second year, and it's helping in some of the aspects that Mike mentioned above, namely, who really showed up and how to get them digestible nuggets of information. When the volunteers get to registration, there's a "Kiosk style check-in" where they just click on their name (assuming pre-sign up) and they are presented with a list of all the members on their team, phone numbers for all those people, and where that team is supposed to be meeting and when. So every volunteer walks out with a customized-for-them meeting schedule and list of contacts.

And when they verified their name, the database marks them as "present/on site" in all the reports. So that helps too.

I'm seeing the last 3-4 weeks getting 75% of the volunteers, and sometimes 30% walkup. The good thing about having that data is that I don't freak out when I'm 5 weeks out with skeleton crews. :p

On the shirts, I haven't had much of a problem there, but we prioritize shirts for volunteers. So they get all the shirts they need, then what's left goes on sale to the competitors at the awards ceremony. This past RTN was an exception where I knew we over ordered shirts, so we sold them early too.

Cheers,
Anders
 

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LSPR speccie/worker & YBJ fan
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All I know is, I have to get my butt up to Houghton on Thursday for LSPR this fall. Even after pre-registering as a volunteer in 2008, they were all out of "husky" sizes by the time I checked in on Friday morning (but I still got a swag bag). However, last fall when I checked in Fri morn, everything was gone, since they had so many show up (either pre-registered or walk-ups) to check in the day before. I know it's only some simple free stuff, but a brief moment of shock set in as I walked away from the table.

Luckily my organizer buddy Kevin was able to scrounge up a cool LSPR pin and a few diamond decals & laynards, so Johnny ended up a happy rally fan. It doesn't take much to make me happy: just some free swag, a beautiful fall afternoon in the Keweenaw, and Rally cars speeding by...
 

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Part of this is the right level of info for the drastically different levels of experience, another part is trying to distill a great amount of information down into usable "bullets" or "bytes" of information.
This is tough. I tend to write everything for the first-timer that knows nothing, but that makes the packet larger and questionable as to the whether they read it all. A couple years back we started issueing top ten lists for volunteers that go with their badge. Basically, if they read nothing else in the packet, this will help em out. We have one for each type of volunteer.

Anders, on the kiosk thing, how many computers did you have for them to use? I like the idea, but wouldn't want people to wait in long lines to use em.

The other tough thing is who comes with who. You can have ten guys signed up beforehand, but when you find out at the last minute they are all riding together in two cars, it messes with your previously assigned list. I've been contacting everyone a couple weeks out recently to ask them who they are "with" so I can make more assignments earlier and streamline the actual day of signing up. Registration still takes longer than it should but the voluneers are understanding about it.
 

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Anders, on the kiosk thing, how many computers did you have for them to use? I like the idea, but wouldn't want people to wait in long lines to use em.
We got two of those Toshiba NB205 netbooks. They are small (10 inch screens) which is fine, and they were cheap (around $300). The check-in is 5 clicks:
-Click your name in the alpha sorted list
-Click to confirm that yes, that's your name
-Click print
-Click Ok (in the printer dialog box)
-Click 'Ok I'm done' to reset it for the next person

If you have a volunteer there doing it for them, I would say that it takes under 10 seconds. About a minute or so if they are doing it themselves and reading the instructions.

Generally we leave one one running the check-in app and the other set up for the "create an account and volunteer" page for walk-ups. A few days ago I added an even quicker walkup-signup-assign all in one page (that would be run by a volunteer, not self done). Naturally they are hooked up to a network printer so adding another one, or just borrowing someone's laptop for registration to add to the pool, is pretty easy.



The other tough thing is who comes with who. You can have ten guys signed up beforehand, but when you find out at the last minute they are all riding together in two cars, it messes with your previously assigned list.
Yup. That one is tough. We track who has cars, and who will or won't drive them on gravel. In the assignment list it puts a little car graphic next to those who have cars. So that part of is manageable.

Our system has a text box that you can type in who you want to be assigned with. I go back and forth on developing this further... there are many tech problems, and some social problems.
Social:
-ok, you SAY you want to work with Johnny, but if we need you to split up, will you?
-if we've given you a "assign me with this person" option, do you feel more or less happy when we ask you to split up if we really need you to?
-How can you tell if "assign with" means at the same physical location or just on the same stage team?
Tech:
-how do you say you want to be partnered with someone who isn't in the database yet?
-How do you handle grouping people with someone who IS in the database, but hasn't signed up?
-How do you manage assignments in a group, but physically spread out? (like, 10 the people for 2 spots)

Tech issues are solvable with time and effort, but social issues remain. They make the return on investing in the tech issues smaller since they are the bigger problem, really.

So, what we do is based on a text box, assign in groups that make whatever sense we can, and then we have a "lock" button on the assignment. So that way folks that are together are locked and unmovable (well, they _are_ unlockable, of course) and we won't accidentally switch half of them to some other stage team later when I've forgotten why I put them all together.

Cheers,
Anders
 

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your other left, you idiot
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Thread drift

When I saw how woefully short RTN was for workers, I started thinking:

How few workers can you run a start control with?

Can you run everything: ATC/start line/radio with one person?

I'm thinking sorta - but check in would be on the honor system - you get the time you ask for. And radio gets neglected. And there better not be any crowd control "issues". And you certainly can't do it with a newbie.

Thoughts?

press on,
 

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L1 !!! HPR into HPL
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When I saw how woefully short RTN was for workers, I started thinking:

How few workers can you run a start control with?

Can you run everything: ATC/start line/radio with one person?

I'm thinking sorta - but check in would be on the honor system - you get the time you ask for. And radio gets neglected. And there better not be any crowd control "issues". And you certainly can't do it with a newbie.

Thoughts?

press on,
One thing you didn't consider was the distance from ATC to start. Last year at Rally Tennessee worked two starts with myself, my son (never been to a Performance Rally but, heard lots about them) and a 15 year old (never been to a rally) who just wandered around.

Was about .3 from ATC to Start and first running was in a driving thunderstorm. Son worked ATC, got drenched and several of the Irish contingent were late buy wouldn't leave until he changed their in times to remove late penalty. With some experience, he might have made them leave and worry about any penalty later.

I did everything at the start including radio when I could hear it (not very often). Soaked as well as couldn't hold the umbrella and write, etc. Finally the EMT held the umbrella over me. Made things worse with the bikes trying to keep score cards dry but, next to impossible under the conditions.

Min of two and the safety issues of not being able to hear the radio should there have been a need to hold the bikes or cars was and is a serious concern.

Two people can work a finish fairly easily since the FTC person can sit in a car and do radio, timing, and writing with the second person at the line but, a Start Control with 2 people should be a no no without 2 experienced people in a pinch. One experienced plus one novice or less should cancel the stage. Safety over keeping a stage every time.
 

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I'm with Dave, Two experienced workers at a start is still asking for trouble, again as Dave said, with the radio. It's a good thing there isn't video of my non verbal communication with net control in certain circumstances :)

Anything goes out of ordinary, wait this is rally, and 3+ gets real handy in a hurry.


I have to also say that I began life as a rallyperson in '04 at 100aw. So that's all I knew of it, kind of like momma's cooking. The first time I went to Rally TN, I though Anders was nuts, It looked like he was running a whole event with the staff of a stage at 100aw.

BUT it worked. It was safe. Would he like more help? Can't imagine turning any away! He's shown he'll pull the trigger on a stage if he can't staff it to his comfort level. I feel bad for not making it this year, but I'm trying to put some of the "rally worker fund" into the "rally driver fund".


So in conclusion: 3 for start (and finish) IMHO.
 

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How few workers can you run a start control with?
Jimmy, I think we discovered at STPR that it is possible to run a traffic/spectator location when the "location captain" shows up 30 minutes after the first car was due, announces that he is now in charge of the location and then spectates with his girl friend. No sweat, just let the radio guy do everything.;)
 

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pressing on tirelessly
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I've found that just because you have people who CAN wear multiple hats, it's not often wise to actually ask them to do it. It's the old too-many-balls-in-the-air syndrome.
 

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Ummm...Dave?
Michel,

Yes, we could check them in at the start however, it was not visible from the ATC and even letting them get their declared time, even if that time had passed, still would have been very difficult to check people in while checking them out on the stage and trying to hear the radio thru the closed windows due to heavy rain.

Yes, could have left the ATC signs where they were supposed to be and hopefully all the new bikers and cars would know to drive on down to the start.

Still think a min or 2 experienced people at a ATC/Start and 1 experienced and one novice at a finish/FTC. We really need to have limits in the name of safety!!
 

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Jimmy told me at STPR that they had more workers on one stage than the entire Rally Tennessee!

Simon
For the Waste Management stages (I was captain), there were provisions for 15 traffic controls plus start and finish. Thats about 40 people. In addition to these workers who I placed, there were workers at the VIP spectator area, plus some radio operators not on my workjer list. I estimate that there were at least 60 workers on the stage. I don't know the exact numbers because as I was placing workers at locations, I kept finding extra workers who joined our caravan, but weren't assigned to work until Saturday. They just wanted a good spot to spectate and volunteered to work a traffic control.
 

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I kept finding extra workers who joined our caravan, but weren't assigned to work until Saturday. They just wanted a good spot to spectate and volunteered to work a traffic control.
I was told I could do that when I signed in on Thursday night. Then told Friday morning that it had been canceled and no I couldn't do that. That was a bit frustrating.

There should be a way to tell when you sign up for a day if you're actually going to be used on that day. I showed up on Thursday afternoon and didn't get to do anything until Saturday. I understand it gets tough to coordinate workers but if that had been my first experience volunteering I'm not sure I would do it again.
 

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Old Fart
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I was told I could do that when I signed in on Thursday night. Then told Friday morning that it had been canceled and no I couldn't do that. That was a bit frustrating.

There should be a way to tell when you sign up for a day if you're actually going to be used on that day. I showed up on Thursday afternoon and didn't get to do anything until Saturday. I understand it gets tough to coordinate workers but if that had been my first experience volunteering I'm not sure I would do it again.
Like I said, some of these workers were not assigned to our stage, but just joined the caravan of worker's cars and followed us out to the stage. As we got near to the end of the stage dropping off workers at different intersections, it became apparent that we had more cars in line than we had on our worker list. Since they were waivered workers, we put them to work at appropriate locations. (there weren't more than 2-3 cars and one of the cars included a stage captain for Saturday Stages that had volunteered to show up and help us if we needed extra help) Having extra cars join a worker's caravan at STPR seems to be pretty common at STPR. Usually its spectators and we have to tell them they can't be on the stage and we direct them to spectator areas.

PS you probably should direct your comments to the STPR officials. They are sometimes on special stage but might not see your post.
 
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