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.
As I entered the event with my contact, we passed a group of high school students working the event in exchange for community service time.
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 had to close the line down. Ellis was a National Honor Roll candidate and exceeded his community service requirement by 46 hours.
At this event, I wanted 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; he took video recordings and posed people to get better shots. I think he quickly learned that kids do not hold still very long for photos.
After 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.
- Line control – Helping to shut down a line is their major assignment.
- Distribute business cards to parents – the best way to acquire new clients.
- Photographer/Videographer – Kids nowadays take 1,000’s of pics – all we need is one or two good ones.
- Answer questions – Many times people in line have a question. It’s better to assist early rather than late.
- Errand boy – There are times you need water, food, or supplies. Ask the volunteer to get what you need.
- Setup and breakdown – Having extra eyes on equipment will ensure things are not lost, stolen or left behind.
- 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.
- 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.