So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Turn 8 Inches Into 10, Or 12, Or More...

One of my (recent) favorite establishments is a pizza bakery located near a movie theatre about four miles from my home. I've eaten at a few other franchise locations while on the road for triathlons, & became very excited when the local franchise opened up here. Okay, so it doesn't have the funky oeuvre the local joint (of which I am a FB fan) has. In fact, it's a little too bright, too colorful, & too television-laden...holy cow, I cannot believe I said that...for my taste. The music & the attitude of the wait-staff is fairly good, though. And they do have a 115-beer club (I think by now we're half-way there!); most of the beers are good stuff, too.
But naturally, if you're going to go to a pizza bakery, it's fairly well likely you're going to go after pizza, right? This place, like lots of other pizza joints, has varying sizes of pie. My loving wife & I can kill a 10-inch with no trouble; 14-to-16 inchers are a bit more of a challenge, & expect a couple of morning's-worth of Coach Mike post-swim brekkies if we foolishly decide to order something closer to the Philosopher's Pie.
Last Monday we had dinner & a couple of beers with a friend (& her son), a follow-up to some of my wife's business travel. I recommended the Philosopher's, & I think they ordered a 16. When the pie came out I noticed 12 ample slices of pie. As Maria & her son commenced to nosh on a couple of slices, they offered up also to Suzanne & me...who were nibbling on a salad & a meatball sub. Their pie was definitely big enough to accommodate all of us, with plenty left over. It got me to thinking about the relative size of pie slices; when our 10-inch came out the other weekend there were four slices...which I bet were probably equal in total surface to the slices on the 16. So, perhaps the 16 could feed six people as ably as the 10 could a couple?

This is not necessarily a mathematical dilemma but more of an economic one...and maybe even a sociological one, too. Events, clubs, coaches & retailers are seen often to compete for the same, small market share. I'll take as an example a recent look at my local running event calendar; I have at least two examples of two road running events of the same distance taking place in the same metropolitan area at the same time on the same day, with the same post-race fare & targeting the nearly-identical population of runners outside of their own constituents.
The challenge, if or when there are multiple providers in an area, is to figure out the niche population each provider best services. A good choice would be to then either leave that niche population be, or refer them to the provider who can best service them. This collaboration among competitors not only builds a sense of community, but might even lead to a Newtonian equal & opposite reaction. Each party has access to materials (customers, capital, community) which "make up the pie", so rather than squabble & fight over "pieces of the pie" becoming smaller because of another resource, why not collaborate and MAKE THE PIE BIGGER. If done correctly, there can be more than enough for every player who is willing to give-and-take with others rather than look out solely for their own interests. I'm not saying a business or a club shouldn't do what is in their best interest first, but if you work to not step on the toes of others, the chances are good you might get a little goodwill in return...and then some.
Of course, I'm probably looking at the world through idealistic, utopian spectacles. It's something I've done over the past (nearly) five years. This sort of thinking doesn't have to be strictly between not-for-profit groups; it would make things a lot easier for many if they were to work this way, but there can be healthy collaborative efforts between not-for-profit groups & for-profit providers. The worst thing a not-for-profit can do is to completely abdicate portions of their mission to the tender mercies of a for-profit group. Remember, the for-profit is in the endeavor to make a buck, either directly or indirectly. If it helps the community as a whole at the same time, then that's nice.
But giving up, or standing by silently as a for-profit adds another arrow to their quiver because the non-profit handed it to them is just plain bad business. Not being able to choose between a non-profit provider & a for-profit provider - whether it be coaching, a race, or even a financial institution - because the non-profit has decided to no longer engage in the activity with which it was once charged, is no choice at all.

No pizza for you. Not even eight inches.

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