[TheThinkTank] Incentivizing regular shifts in volunteer run shops!

Cyclista Nicholas cyclista at inventati.org
Tue Aug 7 22:30:17 PDT 2018

I second Mark's advice, my experience is similar. Fewer, more reliable 
days are more important than wishful advertised hours. Not being open 
when the public has been notified that you are is a surefire way to 
deflate  broader support and visibility - much better to disappoint with 
fewer days that people at least know they can trust. People want to know 
whether you're for real.

Unfortunately my experience has been that the only way to get real 
reliability is to pay people. With only incentives and no real 
penalties, people will always flake out. Maintaining a comprehensive and 
easy to use system for coordinating volunteers similar to the one Enzo 
suggested could work, but my take is that it would need a dedicated and 
reliable facilitator.

One unorthodox alternative might be to never have posted hours. Once 
upon a time our shop unofficially operated that way, we had posted hours 
but this was before Facebook and the physical shop sign was worn enough 
to be illegible. We had a paid manager/director, but they often flaked.

There were out-of-control key holders, in other words an unknown number 
of them (I was one), and basically during these years the community got 
trained just to roll by RIBs when they had needs to see if the shop was 
open. I think we also had a landline then and sometimes people would 
call and see if anyone would answer.

Partially this worked (sort of) because RIBs was situated in the heart 
of the physical community it was servicing; people only had to walk or 
roll a few blocks to check on us.

The other reason that it worked was that competent keyholders were in 
the shop so frequently (albeit at random) that rolling by the shop 
rewarded the visitor with open doors more often than closed ones.

Eventually this system broke down because for whatever random reason the 
critical mass of these competent keyholders ablated and the shop was 
closed more often than not. But it is worth considering that if a less 
structured and more anarchist way of functioning is attractive, 
proliferating keyed access to a growing, trusted group might keep the 
shop open often enough that predictable hours becomes less important.

On balance though, I'd say begin seriously considering paid positions in 
mixture with volunteer ones. It really helps.

cyclista Nicholas

On 2018-08-07 22:03, Vincenzo loco wrote:
> Our shop offers incentive in several ways.
> Maintaining hours is how you retain your status as a 'volunteer 
> member'.
> Benefits of being a 'volunteer member' include discounted parts, voting
> membership (being able to vote in meetings), free use of the space, the
> ability to order stuff through our distributors.
> In addition we have regular potlucks and movie nights at the shop to
> encourage shop community.
> Another strategy has been selecting folks who can maintain a regular 
> shift
> (one specific day a week) and having them be a key holder. We encourage 
> new
> volunteers to select one specific weekday that they will volunteer. The 
> key
> holder will also usually keep an open group text for the regular 
> volunteers
> on that shift so they can communicate days they might miss earlier and 
> try
> to find an alternate to cover for them.
> To keep the volunteers on the tuesday shift happy (the one I have the 
> key
> for) I often will buy cheap pizza or donuts for the group.
> Best
> Enzo
> On Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 2:40 PM, Mark Rehder <mark at re-cycles.ca> wrote:
>> I think the most important thing is to set your hours and keep them, 
>> even
>> if you will be open less often than you’re prefer. Being closed when 
>> you’re
>> advertised as open is a quick way to have volunteers stop showing up 
>> (let
>> alone customers).
>> So if you would like to be open four times per week, but only have 
>> enough
>> regular staff for three, then keep it to three. Even two. You can 
>> always
>> grow as people learn to trust that you will be open when you say 
>> you’ll be.
>> As an example, our shop is established and we usually have few 
>> problems
>> with staffing, but an org. similar to ours in another part of town 
>> seems to
>> be inconsistent, sometimes having their door shut when they are 
>> advertised
>> as open (which is only two times per week). And they do not announce 
>> on
>> social media or their website that they will be closed on one of their
>> “open” days, as we do for holidays, etc. People show up there and the 
>> door
>> is locked, and not even a sign on the door with an explanation. I hear
>> they’ve having trouble finding enough volunteers, for some reason…
>> We have two people that look after staffing, one for our Head 
>> Mechanics,
>> another for our Mechanics and Shop Assistants (we have roughly forty
>> staff). Staffers give them their availability and preferred times, and 
>> each
>> month the announcement goes out that next month’s schedule is being
>> prepared, and to advise if there are any changes needed. We use Google
>> Calendar so that everyone can access this schedule, and anyone that 
>> needs
>> to swap shifts has the responsibility to notify our email list and 
>> find
>> their own replacement.
>> Mark Rehder - Coordinator
>> re-Cycles Community Bike Shop
>> http://re-cycles.ca
>> > On Aug 7, 2018, at 5:18 PM, Sarah FioRito <sarah.fiorito at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> >
>> > Hey Folks!
>> >
>> > We at Kickstand community Bike Shop in East Vancouver  have had ongoing
>> challenges with staying open for all our our regular shop hours 
>> because we
>> sometimes do not have enough volunteers signed up to volunteer to
>> facilitate our volunteer-run  shop on a given day.
>> >
>> > Does anyone have strategies for encouraging volunteer commitment and
>> regular shifts so that we can reliably open for our posted hours?
>> >
>> > Obviously, transitioning to having paid staff is one pathway, though
>> there are probably many other alternatives that would meet our needs 
>> and
>> encourage community participation in keeping the space open.
>> >
>> >
>> > Sarah
>> > ____________________________________
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