Multi-tasking can be a great tool for your business. But if you’re not careful, it can also drag you down.
By Joe Dinoffer
There are a number of trends in the business world that, when used properly, can put you in the winner’s circle. Conversely, if followed blindly, these same trends can run you into a brick wall and be harmful to your business.
“Multi-tasking” is just such a notion. At the right time and in the right situation, multi-tasking in your tennis business can propel it toward success. However, multi-tasking at the wrong time and under the wrong circumstances can become a reputation-killer.
Some 20 years ago, the concept of multi-tasking was the theme of many leading management books. Nowadays this buzzword is used so commonly that concern for how to properly multi-task has almost become lost.
In your tennis business, here are some examples of positive multi-tasking:
- Stringing racquets in a high-visibility area. There are two extremes for stringing racquets in pro shops. Some shops outsource stringing to someone who picks up the frames then returns them restrung. Other shops create a slightly raised and attractive platform in the middle of their specialty store just for the stringer. And they hire someone full of personality who will educate and entertain customers while they wait (and hopefully shop, as well).
- Events and activities for kids and parents together. In most clubs, a “kids’ event” is just for kids and an “adult event” is just for adults. If an activity is geared for children, the parents either drop them off or hang around and passively watch. Another approach involves positive multi-tasking, and it can help you grow your participation numbers (and income) significantly. Sometimes it may be an event where the parents and children both play together. Or, while the parents play, offer a sports and skill-building mini-camp for the kids. And, if the kids are on-court, how about a sit-down session on tennis-parenting or mental toughness with a guest speaker for the parents?
- Create onlooker interest when teaching. This opportunity for multi-tasking is too seldom considered. Many facilities put their teaching pros on the back courts, out of the way. Consider this: Teaching experiences can and should be seen as education and entertainment, and not just for the student on the court, but for the onlooker as well. Lessons and drill sessions should be focused, generally high-energy, and visually interesting. Use ball machines, visual teaching aids, and create an environment where positive feedback and reinforcement of success is the benchmark of the lesson experience. What better way to create more interest in your lesson program?
Backfiring on Your Business
Unfortunately, many of us who are in the habit of doing more than one thing at a time may think that all multi-tasking is a good thing. But, in many cases, this theory can backfire and hurt business. Here are some examples of negative multi-tasking:
- Answering your cell phone while teaching. While this may seem obvious, it happens way too often these days. People are paying for the teaching pro’s time. Receiving phone calls while teaching gives them less than what they feel they are paying for. If you think this seems extreme and that it’s harmless to speak on your cell once or twice for a minute or less on each call, have someone take an informal and confidential survey of a dozen people at your facility to see what they think. You may be surprised.
- Court cleaning and lawn mowing during high-activity times. Somehow or other, especially at golf and tennis clubs, the tennis facility often is the neglected stepchild. On the golf side of things, management would never think of scheduling lawn maintenance during peak hours. Don’t let it happen at your tennis facility.
- Desk staff talking on the phone to friends. It sounds silly, but the truth is it happens all the time. Pro shops can be slow during various times of the day. A brief phone call to a friend is certainly understandable (perhaps a few minutes at a time and a few times a day at the most). However, when a customer walks in and needs help, make sure they don’t have to wait even 10 seconds. Be proactive. Give your desk staff projects to work on during slower times. Examples would be receiving merchandise, cleaning tasks, phone calls to welcome new members, phone calls to offer birthday greetings, stringing racquets, etc.
Multi-tasking can be a good thing at the right time in the right situation. Focusing on the single task of the moment, or being “on-task,” can challenge the compulsive multi-tasker, but it’s worth the effort. Your customers will remember you by how much you pay attention to them, not by how many things you can pay attention to at the same time.
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.