Service & Return
How simple customer service techniques can increase your revenue.
By Mike Carter
Things are good in Tennisland! Tennis play is up. Racquet sales are up. It’s nice to see the hard work that all of us have put into the game start to make a difference.
So, you can just sit back, relax, and let the phone keep ringing, right?
Uhhhh … no. I think we’ve been down this road before — just a few years after Billie Jean beat Bobby and graphite racquets were “space age.”
For the good of the sport — and for our own careers — we need to continue our efforts to keep tennis on the rise to the top. We need to plan and strive to be the best and brightest business leaders and professionals we can be. It’s critical that we keep looking for new and exciting ways to make our wallets bigger than ever. If we do, you win, your business wins, your community wins, and tennis wins!
This series of articles will touch on some important customer-service concepts, especially key for bringing in new players or recapturing lapsed players, that can improve your bottom line and ensure that your tennis facility will be the best that it can be.
Don’t get me wrong — I know you’re good. But I bet you can be even better!
Remember how uncomfortable you felt trying a new activity or sport for the first time? The clothes were weird, the lingo was weird, the surroundings were weird, and you probably thought, for good reason, that you looked weird, too! Well, that’s what all new and returning tennis players are going through when they finally get the nerve to come to your facility.
You need to acknowledge that “newbie fear” is real. And you need to do whatever you can to make potential new players and customers feel more at home. Understand that players new to your facility may not know the customs and protocols that are second nature to your existing longtime players.
Think how nice it would be if you or one of your staff spent five minutes with a new customer and showed them the facility personally. Instead of just lazily pointing at the stairs and saying, “The locker room is down there,” take the time to show the new person the lockers yourself, meanwhile explaining about the towel return policy, or the court reservation system.
And introduce newbies to other players in the club, too. The quicker these new players get to know the facility and the people in it, the more at ease they will feel.
“Newbie fear” will come up in other articles in this series. But for now, understand that it is very real, and that all new, returning — and even many current — players have some amount of anxiety from playing tennis!
The clothes we wear, the car we drive, the vacations we take, and the sports we play all are ways we define ourselves. So it stands to reason that it is important for us to help our newbies quickly identify themselves as tennis players. It won’t happen overnight, but simple things you and your staff can do will start your new and returning players identifying themselves as tennis players.
Some easy ideas you can implement are providing photos of them during clinics, parties, and events; creating and distributing event T-shirts and certificates; having tennis bumper stickers; mentioning them in newsletter articles and press releases; and generally creating a family atmosphere so that they feel part of the team.
Other important ideas, which may not be totally under your control, would be for you to put them in a position to make new friendships and relationships on the tennis court. If tennis can impact a person at a personal level, there will be a lifelong connection to the sport.
Do The Opposite
Let’s play a quick game called “Sabotage.” Write down five to 10 ways you would sabotage tennis in your community or at your facility. If you had all the power and desire to do so, what things would you do or implement to kill the sport of tennis? Write down far-fetched ideas such as “all tennis has to be played naked,” or as real as “broken glass and torn-up nets on every court.”
As you probably noticed, if you turn each of these items around, the opposite will help grow the sport, and also help grow your business. The opposite of playing naked is playing with really cool tennis outfits. The opposite of trashed-up courts is really clean, attractive courts.
Play this game at your next staff meeting or community tennis gathering. Then discuss your answers, and you’ll all discover ways to improve tennis at your facility or in your community.
Let Tennis Do the Work
We’re each “time-poor.” Every year just seems to fly by quicker than the last because we are packing so much stuff into our lives. But if we, as tennis leaders, can provide the necessities for today’s consumer, we’ll hit an ace every time.
Tennis is an amazing quality-of-life activity. After just one hit of a tennis ball, players are having fun, getting fit, learning, and socializing. Tennis itself does the work for you. In essence, the sport will sell itself. You just need to set the stage.
For instance, make sure that you are offering class times that make sense for your current tennis consumers. Make sure your instruction is at a level that your players will relate to. And make sure that players can meet others with whom they can practice and play.
Tennis has a lot of good things going for it. Set it up right for your new, returning, and current players, and you’ll be golden!
See all articles by Mike Carter
About the Author
Mike Carter has been a certified tennis teaching pro with the PTR and USPTA for more than 20 years. For the past 14 years, he has worked to promote and develop the sport for the USTA Texas Section. A guest speaker at tennis conventions, symposiums, and training seminars, Carter was recognized by Tennis Industry Magazine in 1997 as one of the Top 25 Unsung Heroes of Tennis.