We are starting a new series of Customer Case Studies, in which we take your stories and share your challenges and successes as a learning tool for other RunSignUp users. A This Columbus Running Company Case Study focuses on a Bib Assignment & Pickup at multiple locations, experimenting with new options, and taking advantage of the RunSignUp/The Race Director integration.
Overview: The Columbus Running Company, Timing Services Division, uses RunSignUp to streamline Bib Pickup at multiple locations, ease data management, and experiment with new options for the future.
CRC Background: Columbus Running Company is an Ohio-based retailer with 4 store locations and an Online Store. They are also home to the largest free running club in Central Ohio (the Columbus Running Club), and have their own Race Timing Division headed by Andy Harris.
Columbus Running Company Challenge Part 1: Sharing Bib Pickup information effectively between multiple pickup points. Because runners can choose one of several pick-up locations, bibs cannot be assigned ahead of time, and all stores need to know which numbers have already been assigned.
Previous Sharing Method: In the past, Andy would pull all registration data from their previous registration provider, save it as a spreadsheet, and upload it to a google doc that was shared among stores; however, it was too easy for the method to fail. Participants signing up in the store were not automatically added to the google doc, and google-related delays or sight-error could lead to duplicate entries of the same bib number.
Process for Using RunSignUp for Bibs – With RunSignUp, Andy has created a new procedure:
- Andy uses the Info Sharing option on the Race Director Dashboard (Customize Tab) to give each store location access to participant data. Initially, he set them up with basic Editing Permission, but he has switched to Full Control Except Financial Summary to ensure that they have access to significant participant management capabilities, like switching runners between events and collecting additional funds needed. Since those responsible for pickup are all store employees, Andy is able to trust them with a high level of access.
- Each store is sent the link to access the Race Day Check-In Report from their store location. This report is customized to include Bib Number, and any t-shirt sizes or other pertinent information the store may need.
- As Runners come into a store to pick up their bib, the store employee will enter the runner’s bib number into the system to ensure that it is not assigned to another runner.
- Following the close of the store pickup period, Andy will download a report of all participants who do not have a bib number assigned, and will assign the remaining bib numbers automatically for race-day pickup.
Overall Results from Challenge #1: Andy has received a lot of input from the stores providing the store pickup.
- It’s easier to search for runners using the search function of the Race Day Check-In Report than searching a google doc.
- RunSignUp search allows for searches of names that may sound similar, to allow for spelling error:
“One thing I think is really cool: It not only searches for the exact thing you may type, but also things that may sound familiar, which I think is neat. It was a little confusing at first, but now that everyone has figured it out, it’s great that they don’t have to be the world’s best guess-er.”
- The system is a little less hands-on for Andy. He can set up each store with a work-flow checklist and fail safe procedures, and they are able to handle bib pickup on their own.
- When runners come in and register in the store, the information is instantly ready to go: there is no need to re-upload a google doc, and all bib numbers are automatically checked to ensure there is no duplicating of bib numbers.
Why it Matters: The Benefits of Store Pickup
For the stores, the upside is big.
More than just a store: “CRC is involved in the running community with a three-pronged approach: retail (run/walk specialty), events (race management & timing), and club (group runs, social events). Hosting packet pickup in our stores…helps meld two of those prongs, and “brand” the events we work with as “CRC” events. We work very hard as an organization on quality, and if we can help our charity/race partners brand the event from start (registration widgets/calendars on our website), through the middle (pre-race communication from CRC, early packet pickup at the CRC), through completion (race day & post-race communication), it helps the events gain credibility more easily, and works toward a goal of…thinking of the organization as a whole. It’s also great for getting bodies in the store. Staff are always making sure the participants picking up are “ready” for race day with apparel, nutrition, etc.
“From the race side of things, the more people that pick up in store, the easier race morning is on the volunteers. Staffing can be reduced, or shifted to other areas of need.
Challenges, Part 2 – Experimenting with more options:
Registration and Results Kiosks:
Because CRC has made refinements to their own, internal process of event management, they have a little more time during and after races to try some experimenting. They’ve started to explore the option of registration and results kiosks:
- Currently, CRC does not have registrations kiosks for in-store registration. Because their pickup is usually gradual, and spread out among multiple locations, they are able to help individuals with in-store registration as needed, or will aid them in registering on their own personal mobile device.
- CRC has not advertised or promoted any results kiosks for their races, and do not set up a dedicated location for a results kiosk. However, particularly with smaller races, they have begun to offer it when circumstances allow. This has made it easier to deal with runners impatient to her the results: when asked, the timing team will pull up the results kiosk and can answer runner questions with a quick search.
With both registration and results kiosk options, there is a choke-point due to limited hardware availability. Currently, all stores have one computer, and races do not have extra computers for dedicated results kiosks. As CRC is able to build their hardware supply, they will be able to consider offering more kiosk options.
- CRC has quietly begun to use results notifications for their races. They are finding that there is an interest from runners: in a recent race, almost half the runners signed up for text notifications and more than half for email notifications. Now that they are a little more confident in the demand for notifications and success of notifications sent, they will start to promote results notifications more. While many big races expect that type of feature, for runners of small, local races, results notifications can be a differentiator.
Columbus Running Company’s practice of slowly implementing technology without guaranteeing it is a great model for Race Directors and Timers who are interested in new options, but concerned about disappointing runners while they work out the best way to utilize the technology.
“We’re being careful with our testing so we don’t over-promise and under-deliver.”
From a Timer’s Perspective:
Andy commented that it’s the basics that make him the most happy with RunSignUp:
“What was life changing as a race timer…that sounds dramatic, but from a race day perspective, it was, was the import function through The Race Director.”
For the first 3 or 4 races that Andy did through RunSignUp, he used his old process of downloading information the night before, importing a CSV, and uploading it to The Race Director. Now that he is comfortable with the system, he uses the import function that is built directly into The Race Director software. This has a few benefits:
- Time: the one-step process is much less labor intensive.
- Consistency checks: particularly with larger events, native import eliminates human error by checking for issues such as duplicate bib numbers throughout the process.
After you sign in with your RunSignUp user information and password, you will be able to select the race from which you want to import participant data, import new participants, and update the information of previous registrants.
Final Word: Columbus Running Company effectively uses RunSignUp to streamline the processes of their Timing Services and to better unify the various arms of their business. For the future, they look to find new ways to use technology – but not without taking the necessary time to explore functionality and decide what features are a fit.
If you have a success story about your race, store or club, big or small, email us…we’d love to explore a Case Study on your topic!