It’s about time for DIVA!
When talking to her, three words come up to our minds: determination, positivity and care. Three characteristics that we, at RaceSplitter, share deeply.
Her name is Audrey Jackson, but she’s better known as DIVA, a timing company that in just over a year became very popular in the Mississippi area.
Audrey was a runner herself before starting volunteering to time races for the Pine Belt Pacers Running Club, that she directed, and she’s now hoping to make her timing business into a full-time job.
For a year now, she’s been using RaceSplitter as her timing device and we couldn’t wait to share her story with all our supporters and customers. She is a great example for anybody who wants to start any successful business and, in the process, change their lives.
But let’s hear it directly from her.
How did you come up with the name DIVA? Are you the DIVA?
The name DIVA was a brain storming collaboration between me and my husband. I wanted a name that folks would remember. I came up with DIVA and of course my husband felt this was appropriate (silly man!). Then we came up with the acronym “Dedicated Individualized Verifiably Accurate” Race and Timing Services. My husband says I am the DIVA, but I say my clients are all the DIVAs, deserving of special treatment and that extra customer service.
How did you get into timing?
There was a gentleman I know that started his own company several years ago and he could not keep up with the demands for timing. I was the president of the Pine Belt Pacers Running club and was seeing more requests for me to assist with timing. I decided at that point that the demand in the area warranted another timing business. I called the established timer and asked if I could volunteer and shadow his events. He was very nice and showed me his business. We have since become good business friends and refer races and events to each other.
Is DIVA Timing your full-time job?
DIVA Timing is my part-time job. I would like to be able to eventually quit my full time job and only do race and timing services. Recently, I have purchased a second set of equipment and have a B team so I can double book events. I’m a certified race director and I want to begin certifying courses to expand my business opportunities.
How many and what type of events do you time every year?
Starting in February, I am busy almost every weekend timing road races and fun runs. In the summer, the weekend races drop off because of the heat in Mississippi. I primarily time 5K’s up to a 12K. I have not timed half marathons yet, but would love to expand into the bigger events.
I believe in customer service and if I’m not satisfied with my results, I will do the event at no cost.
Tell us about your typical race day.
A typical race day for me consists of traveling to the event with my equipment in tow. I usually have an assistant who sets up my timing equipment while I sit at the registration table and input new registrants for the event. I will gather participants at the start line, give pre-race instructions, then get my assistant to start the race on RaceSplitter while I start the participants. I then start my clock to coincide with RaceSplitter, time the race, compile the results and then present the awards. If no one has exchanged bibs, or switched events, I can usually be done with the event by late morning depending on the distance I am timing.
What differentiate you from other timing companies?
I am very involved with the running community. I am up on my feet with my bull horn encouraging the crowd and the runners. I believe in customer service and if I’m not satisfied with my results, I will do the event at no cost.
I timed an event with 400 participants before and the race director gave out bib numbers incorrectly and started another part of her event before I was finished timing the first event. Runners were logged in as walkers and visa versa. It was my worst experience with timing. I fixed the errors, but it took me at least a week. I did not charge for this event.
Also, I will meet with race directors who don’t hire me and give them direction on their event. I want each race to be successful whether I time the event or whether someone else times the event. I always tell anyone who contacts me that advice is always free and call me anytime… and they do!
With RaceSplitter, I have more freedom to move around and the customer support is superb!
You’ve used RaceSplitter to time your events for a year now. What do you like about it?
The race timer that I shadowed used race director. He is an excellent timer but he is limited by his computers. I liked the fact that with RaceSplitter and the iPad app, I had more freedom to move around. If a runner puts a bib on his hip, I can move to a position to catch the bib before he crosses the line.
I have to be honest, though, my first experience with RaceSplitter was not so good. I had to fall back on my backup Seiko/tag system. I contacted the support team and explained the difficulties that I was having using RaceSplitter. Soon afterwards, upgrades were made and the bib-less input feature was added to correct this issue. Every single suggestion that I have made for improvement has been addressed and the customer service aspect of RaceSplitter is superb.
I feel like I know the support team. I give to my customers the best customer service and this is what makes me special. You do the same for me, and that is what makes you special!
What is the best feedback you have ever gotten from a customer?
It has been voice to me over and over again that my timing service takes the stress off of the race directors. The speed and accuracy for a manual timing system has been mentioned several times. Also, folks often mention how quickly I have the results posted (usually a couple of hours of the event). I actually could post quicker, however I like to review and verify the accuracy of my results and cross reference with my back up system.
My all time favorite comment, though, was from a runner who runs races in many different areas and raced in a different state. She facebooked me and thanked me for my timing ability and all that I do for the area events. She told me that she wanted to give my number to other race directors in other states because of the poor quality of the timing of the events.
How do you see DIVA grow in the future?
I would like to grow with race and timing services to quit my day job and expand to bigger events, tri events or maybe ultra ones. Next year, I want to invest in a chip timing system. I want to grow with RaceSplitter and I look forward to the next upgrades and our continued success in the timing world.
Audrey, from all the RaceSplitter team, we wish you every luck with your timing business and hope we’ll have a very long-lasting relationship.