Use the Internet to Improve Your Business Skills
By Liza Horan
Is tennis your life? It’s certainly your work if you’re reading Racquet Sports Industry. You likely attend industry conferences, and even play tennis for fun on the weekends and on vacation. It’s a great gig, but “all tennis, all the time” could make you stale on the job.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources right at your fingertips. If you take a little time to use the internet as a tool to professional development, you will reap very real, tangible results for your bottom line. The tips below can help you improve your business form for tennis.
Score Free Marketing Advice
E-mail newsletters abound, and they are full of free advice from business consultants and publications. The tips will help you better service your customers and promote your business.
Opportunities: Learn how to improve the visibility of your website, encourage referrals, and find new customers.
Keep Up with the Joneses
You can glean much from the websites of colleagues in tennis and those outside the sport. If you run a pro shop, sign up for the e-mail newsletters of fellow tennis shops, as well as other local retailers. You could learn a useful tactic from a non-sports retailer or align for a joint promotion. Contact these people to find out what’s working for them.
Opportunities: For shop owners, aligning with a non-sports retailer could mean a joint promotion around the holidays where the customer shows the receipt from the non-tennis store and gets a discount at your shop. For club owners, a joint promotion could mean sign up for a tennis clinic and get a free yoga lesson at a local studio, or a discount on an art class.
Take Action: Bookmark competitors’ websites and subscribe to their e-mail newsletters.
Find Networking Events
Step outside tennis organizations and go to local chamber of commerce events, town fairs, church bazaars, and school functions to publicize your business. This could mean exhibiting at a local event, volunteering for a city effort or participating in a local retailers’ roundtable.
Opportunities: For club owners, set up a mini court at a town fair to promote lessons and programs. For retailers, set up a clothing rack and be sure to bring your “bargain bin” to move last season’s merchandise. Both should sell bottled water, and place water bowls for dogs near their exhibit spaces.
Connect with Others in Your Discipline
While it’s important to belong to tennis organizations that suit your job role—the PTR and USPTA for teachers, and SGMA and NRPA for facility managers, the ASBA for court builders and contractors—you can gain knowledge, networking, and real benefits by joining groups based on your area of specialization in your region, state, and town.
Opportunities: The internet allows you to connect easily with those sharing your professional trade through directories, e-mail and listings of local happenings. Shop owners can join the national retail federation or the National Shoe Retailers Association. Anyone working in tennis could get involved with one of the groups listed at the site of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. The American Association for Active Lifestyles & Fitness and the American Association for Leisure & Recreation recently combined to align their goals of promoting a healthy lifestyle through activity. Tennis is a perfect fit.
Take Action: Go to google.com and search your area of expertise—such as “physical education,” “court construction,” “apparel design,” or “retail management.” Research national groups to see if they have local chapters, then search for similar organizations in your state and town.
Expand Your Knowledge Base
Yes, internet schooling is for real and a great source for continuing education. The University of Phoenix Online reports that 44 percent of students are technical or licensed professionals, while 50 percent are business owners or managers. You can earn a professional certificate on your terms of availability through an online course. Or if time is an issue, take a one-night seminar at your local YMCA, college, or through the local Small Business Administration.
Take Action: Go to elearners.com to browse online courses from “operations management” to “exercise physiology.” Even barnesandnoble.com offers free courses on such subjects as “Caring for Your PC” and money management. Don’t want to take a course? Go to ehow.com and soyouwanna.com for advice on almost everything.
Step Outside Tennis
Visit websites of non-tennis trade magazines to gain an alternative perspective.
- Facility managers: athleticbusiness.com
- Retailers: stores.org
- Teaching pros: PEdigest.com
- Manufacturers: sportinggoodsbusiness.com
Tips for Searching
When searching the web, try to be as specific as possible with your search terms. If you don’t get the results you seek, broaden the search by removing adjectives or by using quotation marks around words you want to appear together.
- Specific search: “Chevy Chase” chamber of commerce
- Broad search: Maryland retail association
- Search sites: google.com, yahoo.com, ask.com
- How-to guides: about.com, ehow.com, soyouwanna.com.
See all articles by Liza Horan
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