After much anticipation, looks like the DC Tri winter gear has been added on the Champion System site...
Excellent. I'll be interested in ordering.
Also, the more you order, the less it costs per item for shipping (which is super expensive).
If anyone is interested I'd be happy to set up a group order to keep shipping costs minimal.
Big thanks to our gear folks for setting it up the winter gear online.
Spoiler Report -
Despite the many benefits that our CS direct buy option offers (i.e. members can purchase gear anytime they would like all year long and have it shipped directly to them in 2-4 weeks instead of 2-3 months) there has been some backlash with the increased product costs (driven primarily by CS stocking fees) and increased shipping costs. In the past many of these costs were absorbed by the club either directly (i.e. shipping costs) or indirectly (i.e. corageous volunteers like Andy and Karen became the receiving and distribution center).
The news here is that "we hear you" and are in talks with CS to come up with creative ways to reduce costs, include purchase incentives (reduced shipping on orders over X) and maintain the flexibility we've come to enjoy with the direct buy option.
Open to suggestions, rants and raves. Please feel free to post those here or send an email to "firstname.lastname@example.org" with the subject line "Champion Systems Suggestions".
Overall I think that direct buy option is definitely a positive for the club. It enables new members to quickly get gear, unlike before where it could take 3 months or more. And at least to me the higher prices don't seem that unreasonable for the convenience. Looking at the items I ordered back in the fall (bibs/jersey), it only adds a little over 5% more (shipping + slight price increase) to the total order cost.
One thing that would be nice if CS could give us an occasional promo code to help offset some of the shipping cost. Other than that, great improvement in my opinion.
Is there a way to do both?
Have the normal 2 times a year where the club orders for everyone like in prior years. Those who miss out and don't want to wait another 3-5 months can go directly to CS and order. It's kind of like an expedited service. If you want it fast and in a hurry, pay the shipping cost. If you want save a few dollars with shipping, go through the club.
Have the first order come in a few weeks before the Kona party, that way you can encourage people to go to the Kona party and pick up their shirts. Plus, it's an opportunity for folks to get winter gear at the beginning of the cold season. Have the second order come in a few weeks before Columbia bricnic or the DC Tri.
I vote for Karen Willard to be the gear person for life :)
I actually agree with your first 2 paragraphs. Maybe if club members feel the same way, the Board will reconsider the decision to eliminate the group orders, especially if the deliveries are all done in person at large events. The mailing stuff out was the real burden. The rest of the process is pretty easy.
Hey everyone -
What if we accomplished the same benefits of a group buy but had the effectiveness of direct buy? Bottom line here is that the club is trying to get out of the business of gear storage, shipping, distribution, fulfillment, etc...
To echo Karen's thought, the distribution part of the equation was the challenge for the club namely our volunteers (Karen & Andy) and it seems that as much as we tell people to show up on X date at X location to pick up their gear order, it always ends with our volunteers spending time packing and shipping gear, and not to mention our process does break! As the club grows and demand for gear grows, this becomes more of a challenge especially when our goal is for all 1100+ members to be sporting club gear!
We also have those who get very upset because they miss the group purchase deadline or those who might have bought gear at the beginning of the group order timeframe, then had to wait a month for the shop to close when we then actually place the order to them then having to wait another 4-6 weeks for the gear to arrive and then another 1-2 weeks for distribution. (Worst case scenario: 12 weeks)
The board is not apposed to the group buy option but I think we're trying to get to the root cause of these issues and from everything I've heard to-date...members want good quality gear at a reasonable price delivered to them when they want it and in a reasonable time frame. If the group buy option is the best solution to accomplish these requirements then we'll bring it back! I still believe that we can (and are) working towards a better solution.
Shout-out to Karen and Andy for doing a really great job coordinating everything for previous orders and for setting up the direct buy from CS (additional thanks for putting up with all my questions about types, threadcount, if they are fair-trade, etc).
I'd second Tuan's idea, that maybe once or twice a year we do a club order where CS cuts us a deal, but for those who don't take advantage of this can order direct. Kind of a "make up your mind now or you're on your own to buy direct till next time" deal; It's not like Andy/Karen don't give us enough notice or reminders - they make sure everyone knows!
Additionally, the forum can be utilized for folks to coordinate their own "group order" and work the logistics on their own if they miss a club group order. I did one a few weeks ago with a few members and we saved a ton on shipping (took the per item cost from $8.50 to just under $5 per item after ordering so many items). I could have gotten more people get in on it and saved more. Yes, we'll pay a premium if we want it fast, but as pointed out earlier it's not an unbearable markup. Think of it as paying for a rush order. Brady, well said. It's a positive thing for people who join the club after club orders go out.
I agree the club should work away from having so much work on our volunteers. They do enough as it is already. Also thanks to Ryan for his additional coordination in all this to steer us to a better solution in the matter.
just my 0.02 Francs..
I just do whatever Karen tells me to do!
And this is why, hands down, Andy is one of the smartest men in America.
DISCLAIMER: I'm throwing out ideas. I may not actually believe in anything that I say. I hear voices in my sleep. English is not my first or second language :)
Most of the people in DCTri are type-a folks who like volunteering and being involve in a fanatical way, if given the opportunity. At least that has been my experience in recruiting DCTri members to be part of the PeasantMan War Council.
I think that one of the benefits of keeping the manual labor/volunteer aspect of the equation is the increase of volunteer opportunities and member participation. It's another avenue that folks can take to be more active in the club. What you can do also (thinking out loud) is recruit one of the NTPers to be in charge of the NTP order, a Hipster to do the gear for the HIM program, etc. Let them distribute it at the clinics so as to encourage people to go to the clinics.
Karen and Andy can order the gear and store it at their place. They can then give it to one of NTP, Hipster, Oly, or IM program volunteers to distribute to the individual groups. This will free up Karen and Andy for the general membership and deal with a smaller subset of people. By doing this, you just got 4 or 5 more people to be involved in the club at the volunteer level. You also place less stress on Andy and Karen.
In Vietnam they build road through manual labor with people literally shoveling dirt by bamboo baskets. They do this not because they don't have big machines that can do it or that it is the most efficient way possible, but they do it to give people things to do and an employment check to have.
It may be more efficient to allow people to order directly, but having the volunteer aspect gets more people involved in the club. That might be a good benefit in the long run. If people think that 3-5 months is way too long, then they can pay the shipping cost directly. If they don't mind waiting then they can get it through the club a bit more cheaply. It's a good compromise I think.
I think that a lot of people want the gear before big races so that they can race in team colors. As long as you can put it in their hands beforehand so that they can have a few training sessions with it prior to one of the main races of DCTri, they don't mind waiting. It's not like the DCTri gear is the only gear that is in anyone's closet.
Again ... read my disclaimer :)
Haha, spoken like a true guy!
Ok we hear you guys. We're getting back a proposal from CS next week. If we can acheive lower costs while maintaining some degree of flexibilty for ordering gear, individually when we want, then I would certainly hope that is an amenable solution for all. If not then we'll offer up to 2 group buys in 2012.
I do like how the direct buy option has empowered members to perform their own group buys. If this is a reoccuring trend then perhaps this builds a case for a "group buy promotion code" from CS that individual groups can use anytime they would like to receive a bulk discount and free shipping over a certain order quantity.
If all else fails, Tuan has told me that he has the hook up on a factory back in the homeland that will cut us a good deal. :-)
@ Tuan - I completely agree volunteerism is the heart & soul of this club both with leadership and (well) everything else we do! But speaking frankly, the club is at a crossroads of sorts right now. We're outgrowing our capacity while at the same time experiencing volunteer fatigue. We're not going to always have such dedicated people as Karen and Andy on the front lines schlepping out gear and so it's the job of the board to equip and enable our volunteers with the right tools and resources (machines, bamboo baskets, whatever it takes) to serve our member's needs and to do so in a way that is sustainable and as efficient as possible.
That said, are you up for taking on some responsibilty for gear management? I'm told by my boss every day to "eat what you kill" in that you come up with the idea, you implement it! I like the idea of a gear coordinator for programs especially (and probably most importantly) NTP, you can even report to Karen as long as you follow her orders. :-)
First of all, I don't report to women. Women report to me.
I've got the DCTri Sunday Bike Ride with the Vertical Swimmer to take care of
I've got PeasantMan to take care of, which involves A LOT of DCTri members
I've got Ironman training
I've got my own marathon running club that I founded to take care of (shameless plug alert --> www.dsgrunning.com)
I've got the INS on my back because supposedly they don't have any records of me entering the country
I'd like to help, but I'm spread as thin as I would like to be. Besides, the club needs fresh blood. Royalty shouldn't be expected to do manual labor anyway.
I don't know the inner workings of DCTri and the efforts it take to recruit good volunteers for some of these major tasks so I may be speaking out of line here, but I disagree with the notion that we have volunteer fatigue. I see a lot of DCTri volunteers at a lot of events. I see a lot of people signing up to be NTP mentors. There is a big pool of potential volunteers out there that can be tapped into.
About 90% of the people that I've personally approached to help out with PeasantMan have come aboard whole hardheadedly, 8% have turned me down due to scheduling conflicts, and the final 2% are just assholes :) I think the way that you approach people to convince them to help out is the key.
would be interested in a group buy if it happens. Let me know. - Mike
Just another idea ... have one group buy with the NTP group since that's the biggest infusion of active new members that will would want the DC Tri Club kits at once. And since I heard that there can be a shortage of mentors, one of the perks of being a mentor is that you can join in with the NTP group buy and it will only be orders will only be distributed at a clinic to get everyone to show up. And if you need people to run the kit distribution, offer volunteers a free kit as payment.
But I agree with Tuan's idea where the club only puts together 2 big orders a year. And if you don't pay attention to the million and one emails and forum posts about ordering in time, you are just SOL.
As for getting more volunteers - I think that a lot of the new members might not know about how they can volunteer or might be intimated to volunteer, especially people that are new to the club or the sport. Both can be pretty intimidating to newbies (including this one).