I attended a regional competition for world-class drum and bugle corps. If I could describe these 150-member groups in one word, it would be precision. The flags are thrown into the air at the same height. The drummers hold their sticks at the same level. The steps are all in cadence. It is a well-oiled machine, from the moment they step on to the field until the last performer leaves.

I knew this going in, so it was quite a contrast to see the set-up for the event (which was still occurring when the doors were open). Tickets were all sold as reserved seats, but none of the seats in the football stadium were numbered. Thus, their crew was making a chaotic attempt to number everything, using painter’s tape and printed labels. The labels did not fully correspond with the seats, so then it became a scramble to find a Sharpie to do it by hand. Sections were identified with a letter drawn on a food-service wrap taped to the rails. Let’s say the pre-show was as loose as the actual show was tight. 

The rudimentary system got the job done, but it diminished the overall feeling of the night. If the corps stands for precision — its brand — then the entire operation for their big performance should at least be efficient if not more than that. Attention to detail should permeate every aspect of their organization, not just the few moments on the field.

Think about the back office or off stage jobs that your brand must deliver. Have you applied the same quality standards and expectations to the whole operation? You may not lose points for what occurs outside the spotlight, but you lose reputation, and ultimately that is worse.

beth triplett

Tape with labels to create
reserved seating in a
football stadium

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