Is it possible to have an event that’s too successful? Unfortunately, yes. But with good planning, any growing pains associated with unexpected success can be minimized, or even avoided.
A good example is the popular “Cars & Coffee” franchise, which a Dallas area BMW dealer brought to North Texas to showcase his new facility. It was a brilliant way to expose a new location and attract thousands of car enthusiasts , especially when you’re selling “The Ultimate Driving Machine”.
The intent of Cars & Coffee is to recreate the 1950s “cruise night” atmosphere with every type of vehicle. People come to park, look at the cool cars and leave whenever they want, for free. It’s a great idea.
And it has worked, but much better than anyone probably ever envisioned. After a year, the event is crowded within a few minutes of opening. Over 600 cars cram into the parking lot with more waiting in the street. The event is so packed that many are beginning to simply stay away.
The negative fallout is reminiscent of Yogi Berra’s famous quote about Ruggeri’s restaurant in St. Louis, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
What lessons can be learned from this situation?
- Plan for exponential growth to minimize problems. Be ready if you go “big time”.
- Have an exit strategy. If the goal is to create exposure and goodwill, you need a milestone that triggers the decision to offload or cease when that objective is reached.
- Include local authorities in planning from the outset. Local and state police officers patrol streets adjacent to the Cars & Coffee event in North Dallas, but none work the event. Police, fire and city officials need to be part of the solution.
Will Cars & Coffee survive in North Texas? We certainly hope so. Regardless, lessons learned from their growth can help others build more successful events in the future.