From Subman to Operations Manager

Who are the faces behind the Rocks? Who keeps the organisation running smoothly and our game day crew in check? We put your questions to Matt Young, Operations Manager, in a special feature length Back To Back Threes article. Here’s what he had to say…

1) What is your favourite memory from your days of being a subway sandwich?

“Haha, brilliant question to start! It’s a rite of passage that all Rocks off-court employees have to do time in a mascot costume – I’ve just logged more hours than most… I’d take Subman over Rocky any day – you get too hot in Rocky! I actually went on to work at a Subway while I was at University – at the interview I pulled out a photo of me dressed as Subman, that got me the job without many other questions…”

2) Could you give us a summary of your job, both on game days and a normal working week?

“Sure thing, I’ll try to keep it brief but we do a lot. We have a very small off-court team, there’s only myself and Daniel, and between us we manage all aspects of the club. During the season a typical working week is Tuesday – Friday in the office, with a home-game on Sunday. We’re off on a Monday, so during the season our weekend is usually a Saturday/Monday.

Weekdays

…I’m going to keep this section as brief as I can – just going over key areas, rather than a play-by-play – game-day is more exciting than the office.

Our office hours are usually 9am-5:30~6pm. We’ve got 4 full days to tidy up the mess from one game and fully prepare for the next fixture. Having done it for a while we’ve gotten pretty good about getting everything sorted, with procedures in place to make things easier and quicker for us.

The week usually starts by giving the office a quick tidy – putting equipment back in storage, throwing out rubbish and generally making the place look presentable.

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We believe this is the line Matt used when he first met Shay

I’m responsible for all aspects of our ticketing – including sales and event administration. This includes creating events for sale online, speaking with our provider to make sure the match is ready for sale online. Making sure season ticket seats are held and tickets for phone or group bookings are also held. I also print tickets and post them out as well as manage the ticket guest list – a master list of all tickets that have not been bought online for each game. Fridays are when we prepare tickets – making sure online orders are printed, the guest list is all ready to go and all group booking tickets are done.

I also update our social media accounts – posting pictures, promoting ticket sales and merchandise etc. I’m not the sole person that does it, a lot of people often ask who runs our social media. As well as social media I manage the club website – posting articles, picture, updating fixtures and promotions as well as updating pages. I’m also responsible for the online shop. This involves processing orders, packing and posting as well as creating product listings – taking photos, writing descriptions and managing stock levels.

I’m usually the one that answers the phone when people call the office – customer enquiries, ticket bookings as well as booking for birthday parties and experiences.

There’s also a bit of player management involved during the week as well. A lot of people are quite surprised we have little interaction with players each day/week. I usually pop down to watch the end of practice one a week, usually just to get a photo for social media. Apart from that I only see the

team if there’s items that need signed or to get their ticket requests. If they have any issues they usually reach out to me.

That’s the basics of it. There’s a lot more that goes on – such as meeting sponsors and dealing with other issues/meetings that crop up from time-to-time, as well as producing and editing videos for YouTube etc. We’re quite a small team so, we tend to get stuck in with whatever’s needing done – nothing phases me anymore.

Gamedays

I’m usually in the office for 9am on a Sunday. The first couple of hours are usually spent finalising tickets – there’s always some last minute requests and alterations to be done. Once the tickets are done, and everything is ready for the Box Office I head down courtside.

Glasgow Life are getting pretty good at the arena set-up, they’ve got a nice picture book that shows them how to set-up the court and arena. When we get courtside it’s usually just snagging the small things – making sure cables are taped and setting up the score-board and table equipment. Sometimes the courtside area needs a bit of work, but Glasgow Life are getting on top of things for us – gone are the days of us setting up the boxes, floor seating, boards and other equipment.

It’s usually about then that we have a quick chat with the Assistant Arena Manager – confirming the expected crowd numbers and going over key points for game-day. They also check to make sure there’s nothing major that’s been missed in the arena set-up.

After the court and arena are ready we head up to Level 3. We pull out the merchandise units and any tables we need – usually for the Rolling Rocks, raffle, online collection, promotional collection and set-up Tensa barriers at the Box office. We also set-up any event signage, directing people where to collect their tickets from – we split ticket traffic up into 3 areas (online collection, promotional collection and Box office).

Now’s the time to grab some lunch – depending on how things have gone up until now lunch can be quite relaxed, sometimes there’s no time for lunch. After lunch we make sure that the merchandise stock and any other equipment for Level 3 is ready to be taken down. Our match night crew arrive around 2pm, and take care of the merchandise set-up – dressing the tables and units. Depending on the game there’s usually time to have a chat with crew – always love hearing one of Jenni’s stories…

Its round about now that tings get a bit hectic, we’re about 1 hour away from doors opening. We need to finalise tickets, printing any online orders that have come in since Friday – ripping the orders and enveloping them, before dropping them into alphabetical order. I also finalise General Admission tickets, any ticket that we sell at the Box Office on the day. I fit in a quick costume change, and grab a walkie talkie, before I take all the tickets to the Box Office and the last of our equipment courtside. No matter how prepared we’ve been there’s always a panic to get the Box Office set-up and confirm all staff are ready for doors opening. I’m usually running around Level 3, confirming everything is good to go – the Arena and G4S check in to make sure we’re all set for doors opening.

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Matt is used to dealing with angry Rocks fans when there have been ticket mix ups

Once doors are opened I’m in the Box Office – dealing with General Admission tickets, guest list and sponsor tickets as well as any customer complaints/questions/issues. I tend to freak a lot of regulars out – I get to know faces and names pretty well, so by the time they get to the front of the queue I’ve already got their tickets sorted and they don’t need to give a name! The hour in the Box Office can go fast; it can also be quite stressful if the game is busy. I’ve gotten pretty good at managing the guest list – but sometimes I mess up and there are issues.

After tip-off the queues die down, I tidy up Box Office and head courtside – usually mid-way through the second quarter. I’m on hand to deal with any courtside issues – usually score-board/table issues, picking up fallen advertising boards (looking at you Will Hall) and updating twitter. Some games we have on-court games during the quarter breaks, I’m usually responsible for herding the children on-court. If there’s not too much going on I can watch most of the second half.

Post-game can sometimes involve bringing groups down on-court for a photo with the teams, it can be tough to manage a large group plus keep the team on-court and together. Once the photos are done I can get the team back to the locker room, they have a shower and change and then I bring them up to Level 3 for the post-game signings. I usually stay on the Level 3 once all the players are up, have a chat to some fans and get the last of the equipment back up to the office.

The office usually looks like a bomb has hit it, but the mess is left to deal with on Tuesday. Dan and I have a quick chat about how the game went, speaking about any issues that cropped up or ranting about something insignificant. Then it’s home time, usually back home between 8:30 & 9pm. The match result always impacts my mood on the way home, and for the rest of the evening. If everything went well with the set-up and we win the game I feel great. If the set-up was tough and we lost the game then it’s a different story…

That’s usually a typical game-day. No 2 games are ever the same – add-in pre-game camps, jump2it, arena issues or anyone of a million issues that could crop up then your typical game-day goes out the window…”

3) How fast do you think you ran the length of the court when the shot clock broke down last season?

“It wasn’t my best time, I think my PB was at the game when the referees forgot half-time was 15 minutes and I had to go and get them – we had both teams on court waiting for the referees to come out. I’ve also had to chase some opposition teams out the locker room, I think it’s the long walk between the arena and the changing rooms that confuses them.”

4) What is your role in the off season?

“The off season is a dramatic change of pace to the season. You go from being flat out, with events and pressure each week, to no events and little pressure (for the most-part).

The first couple of days of the off-season are spent gutting the office – going through every drawer and box – throwing out and sorting everything in the office. By day 3 of the off-season the office looks amazing and we’ve almost run out of things to do.

The next task is to get the players home and the apartments returned to the landlords. It’s generally Sterling that takes the players to the airport, but depending on the flight schedules I go too. Once the players are home we need to get the apartments back to the landlords – cancelling energy bills and taking out any of our stuff. Some player’s leave the apartments clean, some don’t.

This is how we imagine Matt during the off season, only without the suit!

This is how we imagine Matt during the off season, only without the suit!

After the players are home we have a sit down and make a plan of attack for the off-season – what do we want to achieve before the new season. The past 2 off-seasons have seen us take on big projects – moving to tickets.com in 2014 and launching the new shop in 2015.

Season tickets is my largest responsibility during the off-season. Selling to new fans and managing renewals – keeping on top of administration takes a lot of time. After season tickets the next challenge is our design/marketing material. I meet with our designer and deliver our brief and specification list – there a lot of back and forth communication, with proofs and quotes to look at before we hit the print button.

The off-season also gives us a chance to relax and have a holiday. I spent 3 weeks in Canada at the start of June. During the 2014 summer I worked with Great Big Events as part of the Sports Production Team for the Athletics completion at Hampden Park. During the season we don’t really get the chance for a decent break, there’s just too much going on – a long weekend is a rare treat September to April.

Players arrive at the end of August. July and August is spent finding apartments for the overseas players to stay in, finalising visas and travel arrangements for players coming to us for the new season. Once we’ve got the keys for the apartment we furnish them with the basics, to get the players started, and work out who’s going to stay where and who’s going to live together.

This season the players all came in on the same day. Sterling and I brought them all to the Arena to meet one another, use the office Wi-Fi to speak to friends and family back home, before issuing the cars and making sure they know how to get to/from the Arena and where the nearest supermarket is. The players usually have their first training session the day after they arrive – it helps with the jet lag.

August for me is spent building the games for sale online, making the season tickets and finalising our print run of marketing materials. August/September is usually quite frantic, with the players coming in and preparations ramping up for the season ahead.”

5) We know you’re a Lego fan – what’s your favourite Lego set that you own?

“I have too much Lego for a man my age, choosing my favourite set is tough. My fiancé tried to limit where I could put Lego in the flat – but I’m ever so slowly expanding. We’ve just put up our Christmas tree, I’ve got a couple of Lego baubles on there – which is a big deal ‘cos Shay’s very protective of her tree. I think my favourite 2 sets at the moment would be the VW Campervan and the Mini Cooper – particularly because I managed to sneak them onto the TV cabinet… I think my favourite childhood set is the Airport Fire Engine.”

6) Have you ever got the ball closer than the 3 point line when taking a half-court shot?

“I’m not employed for my on-court abilities; I can knock down a shot when required though…”

Our thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer our questions. Look out for another feature with Matt later in the season – we have some great questions lined up for him!