Search This Blog

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Frank Seebode's letter to COP - Why I decided to put on the Ohio Fall Challenge |


Why does a person decide to voluntarily lead an event be bicycling, boating, hiking, and the like? I would say it is because they have a passion for the event and the desire to bring others into the experience of the event. Columbus Outdoor Pursuits provided the medium for transaction to occur. COP simply asks those leaders to follow some guidelines and rules for safety, risk management, and record keeping. It is a relationship where the volunteer leader and COP both win. COP has generally kept a hands off approach to events management, even events that were fund raisers for COP. For example, in cycling a ride like Rocky lead by Peggie Shaw and Mitch O’Donnell is their ride, not COP’s. Peggie and Mitch have the passion, COP provides the medium for the ride to happen, and all parties benefit from that relationship. As long as COP gets the liability release, you are generally happy.
When there is no one who has the passion to run the event, there is no event. Nearly all people volunteer to run an event because they have a passion for that event, not because it is good for COP. An example of that is the Thursday evening New Albany. This is a large ride and when Jeff F., and Jeff S decided they had enough of running this ride did any COP members step up to run this ride for the good of COP? The answer was no. There was one person who had the passion to lead this ride. That person was Shannon Kurek. Did he do this because he was helping out COP? No, he was not even a member of COP, he did have a passion for the ride. He is now a member and both COP and Shannon benefit from the relationship.
One problem for COP has had is that over the years there has been steady decline in the number of people who have the passion to actually lead rides. That has become most apparent in more complex events where a significant amount of time is involved. Many pay events simply ceased to exist. Several cycling events (MOC, TOP, HOOT) became budget tours. In 2007 even CFC was canceled until I stepped in at the last minute to run it. Multiday events used to be quite a common offering in COP and now multiday events are quite rare outside boating.
TOSRV though was the 800 pound gorilla. COP could not let this bicycle ride die like it had with plenty of other rides when nobody had the passion to volunteer to run TOSRV. The COP board went to plan B, a paid Bicycling Events Director that was responsible for all bicycling events that generated revenue. With that for all intents and purposes COP ceased to be a volunteer organization when it came to the generation of money. COP now has a professional side and a volunteer side. As you well know the new business model formula is basically as follows:
Event Profit (no salary) + Membership Fees = Salary + Medical Insurance + Newsletter + Rent + Office Equip. & Supplies + Free Event Insurance.
The problem is I do not think event profit and membership fees will cover the expenses and thus the new business model will fail. A significant reason why it this will happen is COP’s approach to running TOSRV. The formula to generate TOSRV’s revenue was simple, provide a bare bones tour at the cheapest cost possible. COP has decided that this formula should remain unchanged. The problem has
been and in my opinion will continue to be that fewer and fewer people feel that TOSRV is a product they want to return and do again. There are plenty of people who love this ride. That number though gets smaller every year. There is only one path this can lead to, a non-profitable event. Right now TOSRV needs around 1800 riders to break even. TOSRV ridership levels with the current approach will decline to that 1800 ridership level fairly soon.
When TOSRV does not make a profit then COP’s business model will fail and the professional side will simply cease to exist. What will disappear as well is all the events the professional side runs. That means CFC will disappear. COP volunteer side will survive and you will restructure the operations so it be all volunteer. For simplicity sake you will spin off GOBA and it will become a freestanding entity.
With 5 Bicycle Event Directors of Event Directors in two years three months it sure seems that this new position has not gone off as envisioned. TOSRV 2014 will make four years that COP has had a new director learning the ropes or no one at all. COP hired an Event Director twice between November and March both times the newly hired person quit shortly after accepting COP’s job offer. Then COP had no one. I would venture to say that if Bill Gordon (a cyclist) did not offer himself as a candidate there would be no Events Director even today and thus no attempt to put on CFC. The question is how long will Bill want this job and how long COP wants Bill.
I have a passion for tough bicycle rides. I want to make sure a tough two day ride continues. I was on the route committee for the first CFC. I was the person to provide the Columbus to Athens routes ideas which Ed Honton agreed to and scraped his Columbus to New Philadelphia thoughts. CFC developed its cult like following during the Athens era. When CFC was canceled in 2007 and I stepped into to run it, I did not do this for COP. I did this for the ride. Clearly I have a passion for this ride. COP has become too unreliable of an entity for me to be assured that it will continue to put on CFC for the long term. COP was well on the pathway of not having anyone to run this year. In fact I really thought that COP would not put on CFC this year. COP prospects for a long term commitment to CFC still looks very dim because your business model will fail. My passion for CFC lead me to decided that I was going to do a CFC style ride. I want a quality event run by qualified folks. I can see myself easily doing this for another 10 years or as long as people are still willing to attend.
Sincerely; Frank Seebode 



Post a Comment