Thanks for posting this question. It is a worthwhile discussion for me for all the reasons discussed here.
One thing I have noticed lately is some "shopping" for measuring rates. This is the way a free market works, but it can push rates down to a point where it is hard to justify the effort even as "a hobby that pays".
Sometimes that competition comes to the D.C. region from out of the area. Travelers from other parts of the country charge fees that are lower than we in the D.C area charge. When you consider the difference in the cost of living between say, cities in the Midwest or the South to the D.C region, D.C measurers are paid less than measurers in other areas if they charge the same rates - such as those on your web site. As much as 35% less.
Occasionally I measure in D.C itself, when Bob Thurston is not available (I live close by in Maryland). When you measure anywhere near the U.S. Capitol or the White House, the amount of time you must spend with the authorities in advance of measuring spans a range from non-trivial to daunting, depending on the course in question. I have been detained by police on 4 occasions while measuring despite hours spent ensuring advance notification to all authorities concerned of the exact date, time, purpose, and place of measuring. Coordination between the numerous police forces in D.C. is notoriously lacking. Once I was detained by Capitol Hill Police for 30 minutes. No kidding, I believe it was only the "USATF" on the old course map I had with me that convinced the out-of-the-loop detaining officers that I was who I said I was.
My clients get a professional-quality color map for web posting and a black and white version for printing. Due to the recent discussion here, I intend to start including an elevation profile on my maps(thanks for all the tips).
My point is that measuring jobs sometimes take a large amount of work relative to the meager fees we charge. I feel we are worth nearly whatever we charge. Furthermore, I think our current fees are almost ridiculously low with the possible exception of that rare 5K on a quiet nearby road whose RD contacts you well in advance of race day. When you think about our fees on a per-hour basis, it is clear that one has to do this as a labor of love.
If I decide to put up a site advertising my service, my rates will definitely be higher than Duane's. If I am asked to travel out of the region to measure - I have not yet done so - I will not lower my rates, nor otherwise intrude into another established measurer's territory.
Originally posted by Duane Russell:
I accept that some measurers are performing their service as a way to "give back" to the running community. I also understand that some make themselves available, for a fee, to any race who needs their course certified, while not actively marketing their service. I am one of those, however, who are actively soliciting measurement opportunities, as a way to have a hobby that pays. While some see this as blasphemous, I see nothing wrong with encouraging a race to offer a better (accurate) product (course) to their participants. With that in mind, I want to get opinions regarding the solicitation of business outside of my residential area.
What I am looking for is comment regarding, for instance, planning a vacation to some distant area, and contacting the races in that area who do not currently use a certified course, to line-up measurements while I am there. This would take planning, but it not infeasible.
If there is no measurer in a town, I don't see a problem. But, if there is a measurer there who does not actively seek to measure non-certified courses, would I be stepping on toes when I contact a race director? It seems to me that if a measurer is not actively seeking measurements with existing races, this is fair game for anyone else to pursue. If I want to do some work while in an area, I can write-off my trip, and still have some relaxation time.
Does anyone see a problem with trying to plan measurements away from where a measurer lives, even if there is currently a measurer nearby?