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Dealing with "Difficult" box office volunteers.

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by jufam44, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. jufam44

    jufam44 Member

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    Ok, so let me explain my title. I work at a private high-school theater, and we rely on parent volunteers to handle box office work. I'm the house manager, so technically their activities fall under my responsibility. I'm also a student, which is where things get complicated. When they "report for duty", they check in with our director, who introduces them to me, and tells them that if they have any questions, they should ask me as I'm the person "in charge" of the house. At our last show, they only had 1 out of 2 box office windows open, even though we had a long line. There were two volunteers in the booth, and so one was handling cash and the other handing out tickets, as well as doing will call. I made a suggestion that one of them handle cash AND tickets, and the second do will call from her window. The head parent volunteer told me "No, I need to remain in control of the situation, so this is how I'm going to do it." At this point, we had a line of about 30 people and the play was scheduled to begin in twenty minutes. I checked in with my director, who said "whatever, I'm busy now." So I let her do it her way, and we ended up starting about 15 minutes late. I got "verbally reprimanded" (Read: Yelled at) for the show starting late, even though the stupid box office person's thick-headedness was the cause of our delays. What would your solution be to this problem?

    Thanks guys.
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Controls Technician - TAIT Towers
    Lititz, PA
    I would suggest that you have a meeting with all the volunteers for each show and have the director, or whoever is your boss, and you talk to them. This should be a simple meeting when you and your boss lay out what is expected of the volunteers, and what the SOP for their jobs are. If, at that point you still have issues with people not working the way you need them to, you can refer them to what was discussed, and you then have the grounds to politely demand that people work the way you need them to.
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Seattle, Washington
    Protocols and procedures are everything. I would suggest that you develop an exact procedure that you ask every volunteer to follow. This way it's not you the student telling the adult what to do, it's you reminding them what the standard procedure is.
  4. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    This is absolutely the way to handle it as many adults rankle when a mere 'child' tells them what to do. If it is posted procedure, then you have that to fall back upon.

    Our theater is driven by volunteers, many of them getting up there in years and I have the same problem, even though I'm well over 40 (*ahem*). They don't want to talk orders from a child (okay, usually that's flattering, but not in this case). Do you have a volunteers meeting? At that time, it could be brought up that "in an effort to facilitate the seating procedure, x,y and z have been put in place. If you have any questions, ask Max as he is in charge."

    if they are unwilling (or unable to do that), then you need to have a heart-to-heart with your director. To yell at you for a late start after you have alerted him or her to the situation is not fair to you.

    No matter what, you are going to get control freaks in the box office. Perhaps that person's name could be struck from box office duties or (s)he could be placed elsewhere, like an usher or concessions.

  5. Anonymous067

    Anonymous067 BANNED USER

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    Re: Dealing with %26quot%3BDifficult%26quot%3B box office volunteers.

    I learned quickly my freshman year not to bother the directors within the first hour prior to the show opening. Just deal with it best you can, and keep notes to review at the next meeting, notes session.

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