Form an Activities Committee to Promote Your Events
By Joe Dinoffer
Successful retail merchandisers in shopping malls across the country create promotional events so often and so well that we hardly ever notice being lured into their stores. But for most of us, our event programming seldom consistently generates the kind of participation we would like.
Here are some tips to consider if you want to increase participation at your events. Keep in mind that each part of the country will always have its own specific ways to maximize participation.
Commit to a Committee
The first steps are to set your goals and get a committed group to work together to achieve them. The best people to have on your committee are enthusiastic and responsible hard-workers who are also very busy. It’s long been proven that busy people are most often the ones who get things done.
Call the group your “event committee” or “activities committee” and realize that this group will be your promotional workforce, so take good care of them. At the first meeting, offer them a free one-hour clinic with refreshments beforehand. Make them feel special and you’ll have a much greater chance of creating a highly productive group.
Set the Calendar
Work with your committee to establish an annual calendar of events. Too many tennis directors just sit down at their computers and create the annual list by themselves. Wrong approach.
Let your committee do the driving. Your job is to subtly navigate from behind the scenes. Get a commitment from each as to which events they will participate in themselves and also that they will each sign up a certain number of players.
The committee should meet monthly, always including that free clinic and refreshments. Schedule these meetings within a week after each monthly event, and limit the meeting portion of these gatherings to 30 minutes.
The three main topics are: (1) To briefly review successes and failures of the event just held and put those notes in a file for that specific event, (2) to break into subcommittees to finalize plans for the next monthly event, and (3) to discuss any other general business for the committee.
Note that these meetings must start punctually and end punctually. Get a good person to facilitate the meetings to keep them on track and focused, otherwise, they will not succeed.
Timelines are Time-Tested
To stay organized and focused, set up promotional timelines for all events. For example, at three months ahead, list the event in your club newsletter, on your website, and on your bulletin board. Insert a flier of upcoming events into all pro-shop purchases and mailings.
Two months ahead, post a sign-up sheet and start it off with your own committee members who are committed to participate. Have each of them commit to sign up four more players each. One month ahead get all the details together in your monthly committee meeting.
Share Income Proportionately
This can be touchy and tricky. As manager or tennis director, you need to maintain a global view in order to keep your committee active and motivated.
The two extremes are the “one-man show,” where the tennis director does everything without the help of any committees and takes in all the revenues from entry fees. The other extreme is where the players or members do everything. Guess which one always has the largest participation? The member-run programs, of course.
Your goal should be to support your committee by doing the work they don’t have the time or desire to do. We won’t cover the potential details here, but you will get a feel for your duties very quickly. It all depends on the strength of your committee. After all, the strongest tennis event programming in the U.S. is run largely or entirely by volunteers. Look at the history of the USTA or Atlanta’s renowned ALTA.
The bottom line? At your facility, be generous with your members. You should earn an appropriate percentage of the income, but make sure there is never a perception from your committee that you are making too much money off an event they are organizing.
What they do with their share of the proceeds is up to them. A few ideas are: (1) Start an emergency fund for a member who may face a personal crisis. (2) Start a scholarship fund for promising juniors to get more private or group lessons. (3) Buy a new ball machine or backboard for the club.
Recognize your Committee
While all these ideas sound good on paper, this is where they will stay unless you take the first step. And remember — while initiating a committee and getting it started takes effort, the real trick is maintaining it year after year. You need to see the long-term goal of maintaining your committee as the key to its success.
And, of course, make the journey fun for your committee members and enjoyable for yourself. If you have fun, your chances of success increase tremendously.
See all articles by Joe Dinoffer
About the Author
Joe Dinoffer is a Master Professional for both the PTR and USPTA. He speaks frequently at national and international tennis teacher workshops as a member of both the HEAD Penn and Reebok National Speaker's Bureaus. He is president of Oncourt Offcourt Inc. and has written 16 books and produced more than 30 instructional videos.