To Drum up Business, Take Your Show on the Road
By Joe Dinoffer
Whether you’re managing a private club or public facility, one essential piece of information to identify is the value of your customers. Sounds simple but few have this number at their fingertips. Here are some tips to ballpark this figure.
At a private club, divide your gross annual revenues (dues, lessons, food and beverage, gross margin from pro shop sales, etc.) by the number of members. At a public facility, again take your gross revenues and this time divide by the number of active players. This calculation will give you an “annual value” of your customers.
However, to get the real value, you really need to look at the bigger picture and determine the average customer’s “lifetime value.” Do this final calculation by multiplying by the average number of years you feel your customers are active in your programs. Perhaps five years is a good starting point, but it may be longer.
The point is to get a general idea of the value of your customers. Let’s say you came up with $10,000 as the lifetime value of a customer at your facility. That’s a large amount of revenue to either gain or lose.
Attrition is inevitable—it’s a simple fact of life and business that customers move on to other things. They may leave the game due to physical injury or they may physically move to another city. Whatever the reason, customers or members will inevitably be lost each and every year. In academia, the saying is “publish or perish.” For tennis pros and programs, it’s “recruit or perish.” If you’re not constantly looking for new members, you’ll be out of business.
So, how do you get more customers? Here are some ideas to get you started. As you’ll quickly see, it’s all about networking.
Chamber of Commerce
Just about every town and city has a Chamber of Commerce. What’s the purpose? To provide a setting for business owners to network, make friends, and grow their businesses. Opportunities to share your passion of sport and fitness will be welcomed with open arms. Consider offering free quarterly chamber clinics along with a luncheon or “happy hour” with snacks at your club.
Every area also has various service clubs: Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, Ladies Clubs, and more. All of these clubs have one thing in common. They have regular meetings and are always looking for speakers to make presentations to the members. This is where you come in.
Each year come up with a presentation that will be fun, engaging, and educational to tennis players and non-players alike. Pick something you are passionate about and make it as visually engaging as possible, whether you create a slide presentation or show video clips. Keep in mind that you can make the same presentation over and over again to different groups. A little bit of work at the start of each year can make a huge difference. We are lucky that our industry is extremely multi-faceted. Here are a handful of topics you might want to consider. I’m sure you can think of many others.
- Tennis as the sport for a lifetime.
- Teaching tennis to special populations.
- Tennis for seniors.
- Tennis around the world.
- Life skills and character-building through tennis.
Schools programs have been broadly promoted by the USTA. This program comes with good news and bad news. The bad news is that few teaching professionals contact the USTA offices to help with or direct programs in schools. Hey, this is where the sport is promoted to future frequent tennis players. These programs offer numerous opportunities to promote junior development programs, holiday camps, summer camps, and more.
The good news is that because few tennis professionals participate, those who do step forward to work alongside the local USTA staff generally are welcomed with open arms. Take advantage of this opportunity.
League Player Events
Most active tennis communities across the U.S. have active leagues: men’s leagues, women’s leagues, singles leagues, doubles leagues, mixed doubles leagues, junior leagues, senior leagues, you-name-it leagues. The number of participants is significant—and they’re all prime candidates for recruiting. They are committed to tennis, play regularly, and are always looking for an edge to improve and have more fun with their sport of choice.
This is where you come in. Many of these leagues have annual events such as award luncheons and social mixers. Make arrangements to become a local celebrity in the eyes of these players. Give a free clinic at a mixer or speak at a luncheon. Get in front of this audience and gain their respect. If your program stands out from the local competition you’ll attract your fair share of new players at the facility you call home.
Make It Fun!
Above all, make all programs and presentations fun, drive home the benefits of tennis, and stay focused on your mission to get people hooked on our great sport for a lifetime. Do this and your own personal success is bound to follow.
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.