Give me a Volunteer!

For over three decades I have been entertaining people, and have never given much thought to the volunteer assigned to help me while I’m entertaining. Yes, it is great to have somebody stand at the end of the line to assist in closing the line, but other than that, I never much thought about it. Until this past weekend, when my view of volunteers changed.

Image104As I entered the event with my contact, we passed a group of high school students working the event in exchange for community service time, which is needed at most schools for the kids to graduate nowadays.

I was asked, “Which one do you want?” I looked and saw a boy, about 16, with a big smile on his face and I said, “he’ll do”. Now, I have had my share of high school volunteers, and most are little to no help, but this guy, Ellis, was the best of the best.

I explained to Ellis that the job was not difficult, until the end when we have to close the line down. Ellis was a National Honor Roll candidate and has already exceeded his community service requirement by some 46 hours.

At this event, I want some pictures, so I handed Ellis my camera. As one mother pointed out, I should have given him my cell phone, as he could probably work that faster. Nevertheless, in minutes, Ellis was snapping pictures; in fact, he was taking video recordings, and posing people to get better shots. I think he learned quickly that kids do not hold still very long for pictures.

card_mockAfter several pictures Ellis wants to know if he should pass out business cards to the parents waiting in line. “WOW”, here is a kid who has business savvy, I thought. “Yes, please.” I gave Ellis 100 cards and he not only passed those out, but requested more.

When the day was done, Ellis and I parted. I praised Ellis and his work ethic to all who would listen, because he was the best volunteer I had ever had in 30+ years of entertaining. However, my experience with Ellis has taught me a lesson… I should use volunteers better to my advantage.

Eight duties I am going to request of my volunteers in the future.

  1. Line control – the key reason they are assigned is to help shut down the line.
  2. Distribute business cards to parents – the best way to acquire new clients.
  3. Photographer/Videographer – Kids nowadays take 1,000’s of pics – all we need is one or two good ones.
  4. Answer questions – Many times people in line have a question. It’s better to assist early rather than late.
  5. Errand boy – There are times you need water, food, or supplies. Ask the volunteer to get what you need.
  6. Setup and breakdown – Having extra eyes to ensure things are not lost, stolen or left behind will help tremendously.
  7. Secondary support – When problems do occur, having extra eyes, ears, and a second opinion helps when conflict erupts and the client wants to know what occurred.
  8. Intelligence gathering – Sometimes at an event you see a company who you may want to know more about or would like to do business with, but you’re too busy entertaining to check it out. Ask the volunteer to grab a business card, or to pass on your business card to said business.

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