“GGR Tech Inspection” Kicks Off A Great 60th Anniversary Year for the Club
Hello GGR members! It’s going to be a great year for the club! More on that in just a bit, but first a little intro.
There is no one more astonished than I at my being the incoming president of GGR. After having served two terms as GGR President (2010-2013), I never anticipated serving in that role again. When outgoing president Brad Kellett asked me last summer to serve, I nearly fell out of my chair. I had to think about it.
Then, as I did, there seemed a poetic symmetry in it. When I was first coming in as president, the club and I were both turning 50, some things were going great for the club, and there were some serious issues—including financial issues (oh, dear).
Now, the club and I are both turning 60 in 2020 and once again, some things are going great, but there are some issues including financial issues to be tackled.
So, at the board meeting this past Sunday, the board tackled these head-on with a “GGR Tech Inspection.” We “put the club on a lift,” so to speak, applauded what’s going great and then focused on what needed fixing.
First, the stuff that’s going great.
Autocross Director Ed Hunter has done an outstanding job with the series. (Kudos Ed!) Events sell out, participants get in an amazing number of runs, a new timing system is running smoothly, and Ed has seriously engineered event logistics to expedite them and remove snafus. The series is running like, um, like a Porsche!
Likewise, Motoring Director Robert Habibi has cranked up the Fun Runs to a monthly pace and built a crew of organizers to develop and execute events. The day events are a great hit, the overnighter to Santa Barbara is about the most fun you can have legally, and the year’s last event (coming this Sunday) is a charity fund-raiser. Way to go, Robert!
Capt. Mike Sherman maintains a daunting pace with membership activities. Besides the regular welcoming and follow-up emails he dispatches, he manages member badges and got GGR-logo merchandise up and running at zero up-front cost to the club (beyond loads of his time). Check it out here if you haven’t already.
As Capt. Mike might say, membership is shipshape!
Lastly, I’ll mention something which has been problem-free for so long that many people don’t recall it used to be the club’s major operational and financial problem: The Nugget. Under the direction of Executive Editor CoCo Giselle (supervising, it’s true, a witless human), The Nugget has grown in circulation to over 6,000 (bigger than GGR) and at very low cost to the club. The tens of thousands of dollars The Nugget used to consume are available for other club purposes.
Then we get to the stuff that needed a bit of work.
First, board meetings and attendance had gotten irregular. That’s a problem in an all-volunteer organization where board meetings are an essential part of keeping things coordinated and on track. The board is now committed to making that issue history.
Second, board elections had gotten out of sync with three people up in the last election, and eight slated to be up in the 2020 election. To avoid having to turn over so much of the board at once, we need to get elections balanced to something more like a 50-50 split they way the used to be. We’re looking at ways to do that, and a special election may be in the offing to rebalance the election cycles.
Next, we’ve had some turnover with ebb and flow of people’s ability to commit time to the club. That’s entirely understandable: like takes priority over the Porsche club! Still, we are looking for people to fill the Treasurer, Webmaster, and Secretary positions. All three are voting board positions.
The Treasurer does the club’s bills and financial statements. Persons interested in it should have some experience in Quickbooks or other accounting software.
The Webmaster manages the club’s online presences, including the web site and Facebook page. Persons interested in it should have some experience in managing web sites and web site templates.
The Secretary is responsible to taking minutes at board meetings and managing elections, including counting the votes.
If you are interested in any of these positions, do drop me a line at email@example.com. Pitching in is a great way to have more fun with the club! We highly appreciate people who volunteer and feed them well, including at the upcoming annual Volunteer Appreciation Day coming up on December 15 at Chef Chu’s. A 10-course Imperial Banquet with selected red and white wines awaits the volunteers as we reiterate just how much the club appreciates their efforts.
As part of these personnel matters, a web site redesign has been in process for two years now and is not done yet. Unfortunately, there have been issues with incorporating feedback from all the club areas into the web site’s design, resulting in a design that omits key areas of the club (like concours and maintaining the archive of past issues of The Nugget) and uses a generic data structure that’s inconsistent, incomplete, and just not well thought out. As is, the web site prototype would do a poor job of serving the needs of the club’s various constituencies and user groups. The Board is looking at ways to put these issues behind us and get a new web site launched suitable for the region covering Silicon Valley (that’s us!).
Lastly, Track Director Jim McClelland has done an outstanding job ramping up the track series, mixing up the drives to build driver skills, and expanding the Club Race offerings, including adding the first big West Coast Club Race to complement the PCA Club Races east of the Mississippi. Way to go, Jim!
However, attendance fell far short of budgeted numbers and every event lost money except the PCA Club Race at Sonoma Raceway (for that event we bought a run group at the NASA event rather than putting on the whole event). The season as a whole lost $138,000, which burned through half of the club’s cash reserves. Another year like this would put the club into insolvency, bringing everything to a halt: track events, autocross, fun runs, social events—everything!
Obviously, we absolutely need to protect against that happening, and the entire board—with Jim leading the efforts—is all hands on deck to figure this out and fix it. We started by canceling the first instructor training event, which costs the club money to put on. That’s a luxury we just can’t afford right now.
We also need a plan in place to cancel future events if we are beginning to continue the string of losing events. There needs to be something like a 60-day point before an event to decide go or no go on the event.
In addition, pricing needs to be adjusted so that events break even if, say, only 90% of the projected drivers register. Any extra would put the event into the black.
Lastly, we need to explore how we can expand on the proven formula of partnering with NASA to put on Club Race events. Can similar partnerships work for Drivers’ Education Events? Hooked on Driving seems a good candidate given their having the most professional drivers’ education operation and a good history of working with us on “Friday before” events. Discussions with them have started.
Additionally, we will be meeting with the Track Instructors and interested members of the track community to get them involved and get their thoughts and feedback. GGR is unique among PCA regions in having an extensive track program, and it will take the involvement and dedication of the entire track community to find a formula that keeps it going rather than just canceling it, as some have suggested.
All in all, GGR has a great 60th anniversary year ahead of it. Like our Porsches, we drive it hard, fix it when needed, and have a great time along the way! I hope you’ll take advantage of the many great activities offered this coming year as we make the most of 60 years of GGR!