Subaru Meet FAQ

This is a how to guide to plan and coordinate local Subaru Meets in your area. It is based on my experiences as a new Subaru owner in Virginia Beach and may provide an excellent framework to build upon for others who are interested in getting together with local Subaru owners.

Preparation

1. Find your local NASIOC Chapter or NASIOC Regional Area.
2. Recognize the rules of the forum. In addition, use plain and concise language. Jumping in and showing your mad tyte typing skillz is a good way to have people dismiss you automatically. Punctuation, paragraphs, and good spelling go a long way. And with any forum, be civil. You never know who is on the other end of that monitor. If it appears someone is not being civil to you, remember that 9 out of 10 times they are joking. The written word does not always equate emotion or intent as well as it should. Smilies do help though.
3. Say hello on your local forum. The easiest way is to make an introduction post. This should state things like your real name, where you live, where you work, what car you have, what cars you did have, marital status, or any other items you feel comfortable with.
4. Become an active member of your local forum. Just because “Bob” 200 miles away makes a post doesn’t mean you can’t interact with him. Be cordial, be polite, and be civil. Once you start getting your bearings, you will start to recognize the usernames, “clicks”, and peculiarities of people that make the local forums so much fun.
5. Recognize the existing “leaders”. Many major metropolitan areas already have people who coordinate events. It is best to work with rather than against or parallel to these people. The main reason for this is that locals recognize their username and view their posts. You being the “new person” may get skimmed over. This will be overcome in time though.
7. Add locals to your PM list. Religiously check the location block under usernames. Obviously, many people don’t fill this out or have some “cool” phrase there instead, but if they are local to you, add them to your PM list. This way when you schedule an event, you can PM them with the thread link. Ensure you only PM these people with event info and put a sentence in there at the end as sort of an “opt out” of the PM notices of local events. Some people live on the forums and would rather not receive your PM notices. Respect this.
8. Treat everyone with respect both online and in person. Recognize that you will be interacting with blacks, whites, and everything in between. Also there are economic, education, and other differences. If you cannot celebrate the diversity, you should become a follower rather than a leader. Be particularly attentive of first time posters in your area as well as first time attendees. That particular attention goes a LONG WAY towards them feeling welcomed and attending future events.

Planning

1. Schedule a time, date, place, and activity 2 weeks to a month in advance. You can never make everyone happy, so when you plan it, realize someone is going to be left out. You give people enough notice so that they can hopefully rearrange their schedule to make the event. You MUST HAVE these 4 things set in stone or your event will fail.
2. Generally speaking, the best days are Friday night through Sunday. This may vary with your particular area though. Also, coordinate these events so they do not interfere with other regional events. You will get better attendance on a 100% free weekend than a local Saturday event scheduled in the same weekend as a regional Sunday event. Check for conflicting dyno days, autocrosses, or other events that may impact yours.
3. Directions are very important. Always provide a street address to the event, mapquest/yahoomaps directions, as well as plain jane directions. You would surprised how “smart locals” get lost going to HUGE local landmarks.
4. Event planning is important. Group activities are well received and can be divided into the rivalries that always come through. RS vs. WRX folks, East side of town vs. West side of town, and the like. Bowling, go karting, pool halls, and local car shows are excellent activities that any and all can enjoy. Ask the locals for ideas on the next event.
5. Get your grub on! Meal planning should be coordinated with the whole group in mind. This means you should cater towards a vegetarian, 18 year old (can’t go to a bar), with no money. Restaurants should be chosen based on wide menus and affordable pricing. Popular establishments are Ruby Tuesdays, Applebees, Chilis and the like. While these aren’t the “best”, they offer an affordable variety. Good old cookouts or carry in dinners are another easy and affordable option. When going to a resaurant make reservations, or if they don’t take reservations, at least let them know that at X time, you will be there with a party of X. Specify seperate checks too, otherwise your will have a lot of credit cards and $20 bills appear which will require high math skills.
6. Timing. No one is on time these days, so just roll with it. Build in an extra 30-60 minute time cushion into your events. Generally speaking, you will kill this amount of time anyway if everyone was actually on time.
7. The location should generally be within easy travel of everyone. Obviously, there are local on the outskirts who will almost always have to travel, but try to centralize events or at least move them around so some are “close” and some are “far” for everyone.
8. Your Subaru Meet post title should contain the date, time, and event/place name. Such as New York City Subaru Meet, Saturday, Aug 5th. This draws attention to the time and place of the event for locals who frequent the forum and those that don’t recognize your username. Example post 1 Example post 2
9. Cross post your event on the other Subaru forums and any local forums. Just when you thought you knew all the locals, someone new will pop up on one of the other forums.

Advanced Events

1. Get to know your local dealers. Talk to the sales, service, and general managers at your dealership and see if they are willing to sponsor an event at their dealership. This may take some time though to develop rapport and a relationship with your dealer. While the sales manager may be a cold fish, the service manager may be interested in coordinating an event with/for you. Realize that not everyone at the dealership shares your enthusiasm about Subaru, just keep talking to people until you find the right person.
2. Set up local discounts. Talk to the dealership’s parts manager about setting up a local parts discount. If a heart to heart talk gets you nowhere, advise him/her that you can obtain the same OEM parts through several online retailers. This common sense approach is often enough to bring your idea to fruition. Additionally, your contacts through the dealership can network through their peers at work to set up discounts. If you can’t do it, have the friendly service manager have a talk to the parts manager on your behalf.
3. Get to know your local SOA representative. Generally speaking, each dealership has 4 SOA reps that are responsible for the dealership and they are assigned based on regional areas. One for parts, service, and sales and an overall manager. Try to establish contact with any of these folks to see what support SOA can offer your local Subaru Club. As with the dealership personnel, they may or may not be very helpful. Find out from your dealer when these people are going to be in town and schedule an appointment with them. Having the backing of your local SOA representative will have an immense impact on the quality of many of your events!
4. Coordinate an event with another major area. Find out the leaders of adjoining areas and coordinate an event with them. This really depends on the travel distance as some people are hesitant to drive more than 4 hours or so both ways in one day. For help with a nice group drive to another area, please view the Subaru Caravan FAQ.

Problems and issues

1. With leadership comes responsibility. Always promote the right values. This means preach the “party line”. This consists of responsible use of alcohol, responsible use of vehicles, and responsible interaction of your fellow Subaru owners. What is responsible behavior is a subjective opinion, so you will have to temper your personal opinions to the group opinion.
2. As the leader, you will lose some of your otherwise free time coordinating events, making phone calls, answering phone calls, etc. A successful event requires a little of your time and effort, but generally those sacrifices are small compared to how the events turn out. Also, local members truly appreciate your efforts and occasionally this will lead to a “hook up” that the average person wouldn’t end up receiving.
3. Semper Gumby. That is latin for Always Flexible. Flexibility is mandatory as is a sense of humor.
4. Saying Thank you. Many Subaru owners are of the younger generation and the people we can/do interact with are of the old school manners generation. A $1.89 thank you card sent to the host dealership of the event goes a long way towards establishing your credibility as an “organization”. Also, encourage the locals to follow up their experiences, while naming names, with SOA via the SOA contact page. This “back ends” the dealership as with every positive comment made, SOA backchannels the email to the dealer and everyone named in it. I believe this goes a long way towards major brownie points with both SOA and the dealers. These type of positive reinforcements keep the time, contacts, and possibly event dollars flowing.

If anyone has any specific questions as to how to set up local events, please feel free to email or PM me with your questions. My first Subaru Meet in Virginia Beach was 4 guys and 4 cars at someone’s house for pizza. Our last event featured 80 Subarus.

Ron
“leader” of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia
Hampton Roads > *.Subaru Club

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