My First RE Report

by Sam Fouse, NCR Regional Executive

Date: 17 Feb 2016

I’ve been reading these things for almost forty years and now it’s my turn to write one.
Okay, here goes.

After becoming RE at the Annual Banquet on Jan. 9th, it suddenly hit me that from this point forward – everything’s my fault. I also quickly realized that I was about to embark on a crash schedule for the next three months. Here’s just the first 30 days:

  • January 9: Annual Banquet, Wilmington.
  • January 17: Comp Board Meeting, Greensboro
  • January 19: Board Meeting, back to Greensboro
  • January 21-24: Fly to Las Vegas for SCCA National Convention
  • Feb. 3: Triangle Chapter Meeting, Raleigh
  • Feb. 5-7: SEDIV Meetings, St. Simons
  • Feb. 9: Breathe. It’s only been 30 days. Alright, get back to work!
  • Feb. 17: Board Meeting, Durham

And the above schedule doesn’t include the phone calls, endless hours behind the computer, the e-mails, spreadsheets, etc., etc. Still haven’t cashed my first paycheck (TIC) – haven’t had time. I think this is where I’m supposed to insert an emogi.

By the way, before I go any further, let me give a shout out to our Office Manager and Newsletter Editor, Bruce Dover. On more than one occasion I’ve sent him an e-mail at 2AM, and got a response in minutes! This man is 24/7, literally, and we could not function if it were not for Bruce. So give him a thank you the next time you see him. And tell him I said duh-huh.

So here’s my report on the National Convention. Damned good thing I took notes.
It all went by in a blur.

SCCA National Convention, Las Vegas Jan. 22-23, 2016

Four Board Members represented the Region and split up to attend various sessions in order to maximize the takeaway: Myself as RE, Mike Spencer as Asst. RE, Rex Deffenbaugh as past RE, and Mark Senior, also as past RE and Triangle Chapter Coordinator.

I tried to focus on Marketing-related sessions and I can tell you that SCCA National appears to have finally gotten the message. There were multiple sessions on marketing and promotion, social media, and even the keynote speaker topic was hospitality. Looks like they finally get it.

The most impressive of the presenters for me was Heyward Wagner, who now has a title I can’t fully grasp, but it has something to do with ‘experiential’ which I think means he’s into anything and everything you can interact with via SCCA. I learned lots of tips and tricks regarding e-mail advertising and social media, and have passed most of it on to our Marketing Committee. It gave me an insight into how important social media is and how big of an asset Facebook can be for very few dollars. Blair Deffenbaugh is our social media guru and to him this is not news, but all of us need to understand and become a part of his social media campaign.

The keynote speaker was Chris Robbins (not to be confused with our Chris Robbins), Senior Program Lead for Southwest Airlines and the topic was Hospitality. He gave two definitions that were the core of his message.

  • Customer Service: the minimum expectation. You just did what you were supposed to do.
  • Hospitality: exceeding expectations to the point that customers will spread positive opinions of you and/or your organization.

He suggested we view our Region as a business: Our customers are our drivers, both within and outside of the Region; our employees are our volunteers; and our shareholders are the general membership of the Region (all 750 NCR members). Our volunteers are the face of our Region. They are the ones who are responsible for the opinions others form about NC Region. Both we and they have to remember that.

I attended a session titled Building Your Region for Success. There were several presenters, but for me the one that resonated was Jim Weidenbaum, Oregon Region and Area 13 Director. His entire presentation was one page but it was core stuff, complete with an acronym, SWOT to help us focus on what’s important:

Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

Think about how that acronym relates to your own area of contribution to the Region’s success.
There were lots of other gems on that page and I will share it in another newsletter article.

I also attended a session titled Planning for Majors Success. There were some takeaways from this session that we can and should put some of them in place immediately for our upcoming Spring Sprints. They include:

  • Put a paddock map in the drivers’ packet and on the backside have the track-related facts such as camping, electric, jack stand pads, fuel restrictions, etc. In other words, the VIR-specific rules.
  • Have two helpers available at the victory stand to assist national
  • Have a race car at the Saturday night social (or a sponsor’s car)
  • Have a radio show or local radio station broadcast from the event.
  • Also, Majors–branded SCCA merchandise is available from SCCAGear.com (Rick Poore) at cost for Regions to mark up and sell. I talked with Rick and we may be able to do this via consignment.

By the way, we are required to provide a photographer and a victory circle announcer for this event.

It was also suggested that we not encumber the 90% who ‘get it’ trying to legislate for the 10% who don’t. This is a suggestion we could apply to all our events.

The RE Breakfast was on Saturday hosted by Rick Myers. Some tidbits to share:

  • New members can get a weekend membership for $15, or $45 for a year (first year only).
  • New method for buying a weekend membership is via mm.scca.com, and can be used on smartphone or tablet.
  • Demographics: We are now 47,000 members and growing at a 4.2 % rate. Our average age is 45. Solo adds more new members than club racing, but the retention level is lower, so our composition is currently 55% racers, 38% solo, 7% other.
  • Easiest way to change by-laws to allow e-voting is to simply change wording to specify that ballots will be delivered by a specific date and not specify the method.
  • Live Saturday support from National during race weekends is being discontinued. If we you don’t like it, let your voice be heard!

On Friday I attended a session on the Greenpower program www.greenpowerusa.net, an interesting educational tie-in with STEM. It deserves an article of its own.

On Saturday I attended a session on New Programs including Track Night, Bracket Enduro, etc. It too deserves its own article.

Lastly, I attended sessions on Conflict Management (Stewards) and Risk Management.

The highlight of Saturday evening was the banquet. It was MC’ed by Greg Creamer. He does an incredible job. Two of the several inducted into the Hall of Fame were names you’ll all recognize: Randy Pobst and Roger Penske. Roger especially impressed me.

Roger started out as a racer in college and enjoyed sponsorship from a Chevy dealer in Philadelphia. After winning four SCCA National Championships, and while working as an employee of the dealership, he was faced with a choice many of us have had to make: career or racing. He was offered the chance to buy the dealership and with money he borrowed from his dad’s retirement nest egg, he started what later became the Penske empire. The catch was that GM told him he had to stop racing because it was disallowed as a dealer/owner, so it was either business or racing. The rest is history.

I also had opportunities all weekend to meet other RE’s and SCCA people from all over the country. I cannot put into words the value of the knowledge and future worth that those connections could mean. Those are things you can’t get from an e-meeting.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at VIR.